Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bono Has Earmarks of Greatness

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bono Has Earmarks of Greatness

Article excerpt

Ears . . . the Bono family is talking ears.

Specifically, the thick, calloused, cauli flower bulbs on

either side of Chris Bono's head.

His mother, Rita, de scribes the horror she felt the first

time her son came back from an out-of-state wrestling

tournament with ears that looked like they belonged in specimen

jars.

His brother, Ernie Jr., says those ears, those wonderfully

gnarly ears, are like a battered badge of calcium-deposited

courage.

His father, Ernie Sr., proudly explains how cauliflower ears

are a rite of passage to the serious wrestler.

And in Iowa, where college wrestling is as revered as college

basketball is in Indiana or college football is in Florida,

there is massive sex appeal for a man with ears such as these.

"The women love 'em," Chris Bono explains. "They chew on 'em

like beef jerky."

At this point, the entire Bono family breaks up laughing, just

as the entire Bono family broke down crying just a few days ago

when Chris became the first Florida high schooler to win an NCAA

wrestling championship. The former Bolles School star who is now

a junior at Iowa State won the national title in the 150-pound

weight class at the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis

-- a feat the family celebrated then and is still celebrating

two weeks later. The Bonos popped a bottle of Dom Perignon when

Chris arrived in Jacksonville Thursday night for long weekend

home from school.

And on Friday, the entire Bono clan -- including two dogs

(boxers, of course) -- was there for a group interview with the

hometown newspaper.

Dad shows off his collection of fine wines and wears a look of

mock disgust when a rube sports writer suggests dropping a

couple of ice cubes in a glass of muckity-muck, $2,000-a-bottle

red wine. Mom talks about the $5 initiation fee it cost for

Chris to join his first wrestling club when he was 5 years old.

Ernie Jr., three years older than Chris, talks about why he and

his kid brother rarely fought when they were growing up. …

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