Down home Southern rock & roll blared over the loudspeakers, setting the tone as people gathered around the fenced off square of the vaunted Cabbage Patch wrestling arena. Heads were more than ten deep, some arriving early with lawn chairs to claim a front row spot for the action. Others brought step ladders or stood on the seats of their motorcycles to get a better view. Thousands of bikers converged on this rural farm road west of Port Orange to witness the infamous Coleslaw wrestling matches at Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch.
The smell of BBQ chicken and brisket filled the air from the vendors who busily grilled tasty fare as the Budweiser girls were busy tending to the needs of a thirsty crowd. But the masses were here for more than beer. They were here for slaw, and nothing else would do. Two-thousand pounds of it, in fact, mixed in with gallons of Wesson oil, all spread out in a makeshift pit covered with a giant blue tarp.
After a bikini contest highlighted by a 65-year-old lady who strutted her stuff with the best of them entertained the crowd,
Almost 2000 lbs of cabbage and gallons of Wesson oil add up to some serious cole slaw wrestling fun.
it was time to prep the pit. The Cabbage Patch Pit Crew set about shredding the ton of the green stuff as one head at a time was tossed into on orange chipper connected to the back of a tractor, and bam, instant slaw. A local news helicopter flew by to take in the action as the oil was added and then raked to a shiny green mass.
Twelve competitors would vie for the title, a few local girls and others who came from as far away as Summersville, West Virginia and Waldorf, Maryland. The stakes were high. Just before the bouts started, $250 was added to the winner’s stakes, raising first place to a lucrative $750. This wasn’t all fun-and-games anymore, and many of the girls stretched and warmed up before the matches began.
The referee, Two-Dollar Jim, went over the rules before the match. No choking, no headlocks, no hair pulling, ol’ Two-Dollar ran it down to them. Then Ron Luznar, the man responsible for all this, called out the names of the first two girls – Bonnie vs. Charlene. The two sized each other up and shared a friendly handshake, tossing handfuls of slaw on Two-Dollar for tradition’s sake before getting down to business.
The wrestling was no joke. What Bonnie lacked in size she made up for with aggressiveness. She maneuvered around her opponent with speed and technique. The guy next to me said she must have watched some MMA action to get her psyched for the match. The crowd around us laughed. The match lasted a good five minutes, the girls panting heavy, shimmering with cooking oil, slaw clinging to their bodies as they engaged in combat again. And though Bonnie was the initial aggressor, Charlene’s size advantage won out in the end. The crowd cheered as Charlene advanced to the winner’s bracket and Bonnie would have to fight her way out of the loser’s bracket in the double elimination competition. This scene would repeat itself many times over the course of the afternoon, low brow, primal fun. And as I left I noticed that there was a smile on everybody’s faces that attended. Thanks, Sopotnicks. I hope this is a tradition that never ends.
For more on the coverage of Daytona Bike Week, check out Motorcycle USA’s 2009 Daytona Bike Week Page.