Ask any professional wrestling fan who Vince McMahon is, they all will surely know. But not many people know that Vince McMahon, the professional wrestling promoter and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who was once listed in Forbes being personally worth more than $1 billion spent part of his life in Waynesboro. Before WrestleMania, before Pay-Per-View, before Triple H, the Rock, or even Hulk Hogan ever found their way to the professional wrestling ring, Vince McMahon was a cadet at Fishburne Military School.
After growing up as a troubled youth in 1950’s North Carolina and getting caught stealing cars, McMahon was given a choice, either reform school or military school. He chose the latter. For him, it was a chance to start over from what he calls his “unruly” past until that time. “No one really knew me at Fishburne,” he once said. “I had no badass reputation to uphold.”
His past of being raised in a broken family and growing up selling moonshine, getting into fights, and stealing cars was hard to shake. At Fishburne he still exhibited his fondness of stealing cars. Even though he was never caught, he claims he stole the commandant’s Buick for which the commandant was known to leave his keys in. Once he even gave the commandant’s beloved dog a laxative. “I love animals, but one day I couldn’t resist giving that dog a laxative,” McMahon has said of the infamous incident. “I put the laxative in some hamburger and he did his business all over the commandant’s apartment, which thrilled me greatly.”
School sports were McMahon’s outlet at Fishburne. He credits wrestling and playing football for keeping him mostly out of trouble. However, he was insubordinate, and eventually became the first cadet in Fishburne history, since its founding in 1879, to be court-martialed (according to him). Charges were eventually dropped and Vince McMahon graduated Fishburne Military School in 1964.
To some Vince McMahon’s behavior at Fishburne comes as no surprise. In his very successful professional career he is both loved and hated and his public personality carries a hard edge. To those who have met him he is a very smart and thoughtful individual. But it was at Fishburne McMahon feels his life started to change for the better. Even though change was slow in coming for him, it was a period he says, “I at least started to change.”