John Mair had the rare opportunity to both pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and teach younger generations the craft before dying unexpectedly on Jan. 23 at the age of 49. The cause of death is still unknown.
“He wanted to lift people up,” said his cousin, Patrick Sciacca. “It’s just how he was built.”
Mair was born on April 6, 1970 in Valley Stream, and grew up in Elmont. Even after he moved from Valley Stream, however, Sciacca said, the cousins remained close. They were born only three days apart, and when they were infants, their mothers would dress them in matching outfits.
Then, as they got older, Sciacca said, they became more like brothers than cousins. They formed a band in high school that they continued throughout their college years, and Mair took Sciacca to his first wrestling match. “It was actually pretty awesome,” Sciacca recounted.
When he was a pre-teen, Mair and a friend threw snowballs at Jennifer Shukofsky and her friend. Two years later, Mair left a note in Jennifer’s locker at Elmont Memorial High School, and they started dating. “He was my one and only,” Jennifer told the Herald, noting that he eventually proposed to her at the site of their first snowball fight.
On the first date, she recalled, her parents asked Mair what his aspirations were, and did not seem impressed when he answered that he wanted to be a professional wrestler. He was thin at the time, Jennifer said, calling him a “beanpole” who was trying to gain weight to be able to pursue his wrestling dreams. “But he stuck with it,” she said, “and he got it.”
They were married in 1992, and moved to Tampa, Fl. shortly after for Mair to learn professional wrestling under the famed Malenko wrestling family.
He went on to wrestle in the semi-professional circuit, and even had the opportunity to perform on professional wrestling shows in Japan, but decided instead to stay home and support Jennifer and their newborn son, John.
When they returned to Elmont four years later, Mair became involved in the New York Wrestling Connection, a Deer Park-based training academy, and gained notoriety as “Crusher Doogan.” He competed in 10 total matches from 2003 through 2011, and realized he enjoyed teaching wrestling and being behind the scenes.
Mair was one of the first people to train WWE competitors Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins and Tony Nese, according to John Curcie, the former owner of the Deer Park studio, who called Mair “probably one of the most-knowledgeable people” about pro-wrestling.
Mair used his humor to teach his students, Daniel Davids, who learned under him, explained, and never made the younger students feel bad if they could not master a move. “I think he really yearned to help people,” Davids said. “I think he just loved, loved, loved teaching.”
Outside of work, Mair was “the definition of a doting father,” Sciacca said. He would often call Jennifer to ask if the family needed anything he could pick up before coming home, she said, no matter how tired he was or how much pain he was in from the injuries he sustained over 30 years of wrestling.
“He just always thought about everyone else,” Jennifer said. “He put everyone else first.”
She said he would often donate recyclables to those in need, and kept poppies in his car for veterans. “Whenever he would help someone randomly with something and they thanked him he told me he would tell them, ‘Each time I help someone I get another hour on my life,’” Jennifer recalled. “I realize that I am so lucky for that, for I’m sure he would have been taken from me so much sooner.”
Besides Jennifer, Mair is survived by his son, John; and daughter, Jessica. A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for the family under the title, “Support forJohn A. Mair, ‘Crusher Doogan’ Memorial. It can be found by searching for ‘John A. Mair’ or ‘Crusher Doogan’ on the GoFundMe website.