Before Bobby Horne wrestled in the WWF as Mo with the tag team “Men on a Mission,” his life already had a purpose with a calling he might not have known that he had back then. Today, Bobby is 51 years old, and the trainer at Bumps and Bruises Pro Wrestling Academy. He is also the matchmaker for SOAR Championship Wrestling. He takes a powerful anti-bullying message to schools in the Dallas area, and he uses professional wrestling to steer kids away from going down a negative path in their lives.
“People want to feel loved. They want to feel wanted and they don’t want to be treated as an outcast,” said Bobby Horne. “My whole goal before I die is to save one million kids, and that would be through the process of me saving one, and that person saving one, and so on. I want to be the guy that talks the next person out of wanting to shoot up a school.”
Growing up in North Carolina, Bobby’s father wasn’t really in the picture. He looked up to his older brother Gerald, but Bobby was denied the discipline, guidance, and love that comes from having a father present in his everyday life. By the time he was 10, he had gotten into some trouble from breaking into a store, and he ended up with a juvenile record. From there, Bobby was put on probation for three years. That incident was a wake-up call for Bobby, and he straightened up, but the entire ordeal shaped how he would continue with his life.
“I needed a father or a good role model,” said Horne. “So, I decided that I would be a father to any kid who needed or wanted one, and I would be a role model for all.”
In 1988, Bobby was medically discharged from the United States Army. Two years later, he was working at a rent-to-own store and was also a Sunday school teacher. However, he missed the brotherhood that he experienced in the service and thought there was something more that he could be doing. One day, he went to an independent wrestling show in Charlotte and was impressed with what he saw. After the matches, Bobby approached Gene Anderson, an original member of the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew.” At that point, Bobby asked Gene how he could get into the business.
A week later, Bobby showed up at Gene’s wrestling school in Monroe, North Carolina with $300.00 that Gene had asked for. Bobby thought he was going there for a tryout or to show Gene what he was able to do, but it turned out more like a weeding process. Bobby was warned about what might be in store for him regarding the people who knew Gene. Bobby was given the advice not to quit.
For nearly five hours, Gene basically tortured Bobby by having him do 3,000 squats, run more than 15 miles, perform a countless amount of s pushups and wind sprint combinations, and execute multiple firemen carries, which is running 50 yards back and forth with someone on his back.
“He damn near ran me to death. When it was over, my friends literally had to pick me up and put me in the car, and carry me home,” said Horne. “I had complete muscle failure, but I didn’t quit, and because of that, Gene agreed to train me.”
Bobby was into his second week of training when 19-year-old Nelson Frazier arrived at the school to see if he could begin training as a professional wrestler there. Nelson was from Goldsboro, North Carolina, which is three and a half hours east of Charlotte. The teenager was six feet and ten inches tall and weighed 560 pounds. The world of professional wrestling would eventually know this giant of a man as Mable.
Prior to Nelson coming to the school, he had been running with the wrong crowd, which had gotten him into some trouble. Nelson was accompanied by his father, who was concerned for his well-being. Bobby had a chance to talk to the young man’s dad who had a question for him.
“He asked me if I could help keep Nelson out of trouble,” said Horne. “I felt honored, and I took the request very personally, and wanted to fulfill his wishes.”
Nelson made it through the tryout as well. He didn’t quit. Bobby invited Nelson to move into his apartment so he wouldn’t have to travel so far for his wrestling training. At that time, Butch Reed and Ron Simmons were wrestling as a tag team in WCW. On Nelson’s second day of training, he and Bobby decided they were going to be a tag team as well.
“Our total combined weight was over 850 pounds, but we worked and moved like cruiserweights. If you go back and look at some of our earlier matches, we didn’t work in the ring like we were big and out of shape,” said Horne. “We were big guys, but there was a lot of movement in there, and that’s what stood out to everybody. We were very agile for our size.”
After their training, the two men wrestled for the Pro Wrestling Federation, an independent promotion run by George South and Gary Sabaugh. They put on wrestling shows throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia. Bobby and Nelson would wrestle as the Knight Brothers, calling themselves the Harlem Knights.
Working for the PWF allowed Bobby and Nelson to cut their teeth in the business. George became their mentor. He taught the Harlem Knights tag team combinations and how to polish up their in-ring skills. George even encouraged the two men to look into wrestling in Memphis. George knew the business there and thought those good things could happen for the Harlem Knights in the USWA.
However, there was a downside in working for the PWF. Other than some gas money expenditure from time to time, Bobby and Nelson flat out didn’t get paid.
The Knight Brothers became the promotion’s biggest draw, literally and figuratively. When they started wrestling for the PWF, the attendance was approximately 50 people per show on a regular basis. Six months later, the attendance grew to nearly 500 people at each show almost everywhere they went.
“This wasn’t our ego, this was a fact. We did a show at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia that drew 4,000 people, and we were the only talent advertised on the poster for that event,” said Horne. “We never asked for money. We were promised money, but never got it.”
So in April of 1993, after two years of working with the independent promotion, Bobby and Nelson took George’s advice and made the decision to drive to Memphis. They took their last 40 dollars with them and drove 14 hours to meet the owners of the USWA wrestling promotion, Jerry and Jeff Jarrett.
The tag team brought photos and videotaped matches to show to the Jarretts. Bobby and Nelson slept in their car for a day and a half at the TV 5 Studio so they could catch Jeff and Jerry when they showed up for work on Saturday morning.
Fortunately for Bobby and Nelson, there was an opening for a tag team due to the fact that the Harris twins had quit the company a week earlier. The Jarrett’s were so impressed by the size of the Harlem Knights, that they had them do promo interviews that morning. The next day, the two men went to Jonesboro, Arkansas for a tryout, and they were hired that night. On the following night, Bobby and Nelson wrestled Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett in the main event at the Mid-South Coliseum in front of 8,000 people.
“We were there three days, and they put us in the main event. We got paid 150 bucks a piece that night,” said Horne. “For two guys who worked as long as we did without ever getting paid, to us, we felt like we had made it.”
They would go on to wrestle all the top names in the USWA. As the summer season approached, however, the Jarretts needed cut the crew back, and unfortunately, they started with the Harlem Knights. Bobby and Nelson were told that they could come back to wrestle in the fall, however, the two men moved to Memphis, hoping their wrestling careers would last longer than just a couple of months.
Fellow wrestler Brian Christopher informed Jerry of Bobby and Nelson’s decision to come to the USWA. Shortly thereafter, Jerry told them that he would make some phone calls. He was confident that could get the Harlem Knights a tryout with the WWF, or a job with the WCW by the following Monday. On that Monday morning, the phone rang before Bobby ever got out of bed.
“It was J.J. Dillon, and he said that Jerry Jarrett had arranged a tryout for us, and they would fly us out to Portland, Maine the next day. They pretty much hired us on the spot, and we really couldn’t believe it was happening,” said Horne. “It seemed like we were always getting put in these situations where we had to make a decision, and it always seemed to work out better than if we stayed doing what we were doing.”
Bobby and Nelson would team up with Greg Girard, who would become their rapping manager. Bobby would be called Mo, Greg would be Oscar, and Nelson’s name would be Mable. Together, they would be known as the “Men on a Mission.”
Not only did the WWF take Bobby and Nelson all over the United States and around the world, but it also allowed them to work with some of the best wrestlers in the business at the time. On any given night, they were stepping into the ring with the likes of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, the Headshrinkers, the Smoking Gunns, and the Quebecers.
“Working with the Quebecers was like having a night off. You learned a lot. Jacques Rougeau was brilliant, and he knew how to bring the best out of us,” said Horne. “When you’re on the Indie scene, you’re not learning something new each night because you’re working with people you can’t learn from. Most of the time, you’re working with people that you’re trying to teach.”
The “Men on a Mission” would have a three-year run in the WWF that lasted between 1993 and 1996. Some of the team’s highlights included becoming the WWF World Tag Team Champions, appearing at Wrestlemania 10, and Mable winning the King of the Ring tournament.
“Nelson was an amateur wrestler in high school, and he always wanted to be in the WWF,” said Horne. “It wasn’t my dream, but Nelson talked about it so much that I wanted to see if we could do it and we did.”
It wasn’t just about wrestling in the WWF for Bobby and Nelson. Additionally, Vince McMahon really had them on a mission. The two wrestlers would visit inner-city youth programs and community centers and share a positive message of hope with the children.
“We would let the kids know that we came from their same situation, how we got out of it, and that they could too,” said Horne. “Sharing that message still continues today, and it all started in the WWF.”
Bobby says that helping young people escape from hopeless situations started with the Men on a Mission, however, it really started long before that. It started in North Carolina when he met Nelson at Gene Anderson’s wrestling school, and where he ultimately made a promise to Nelson’s dad.
On February 18, 2014, Nelson died of a heart attack. His death hit Bobby really hard. For six years, the two friends lived together and lived out their wrestling dreams together. Wrestling sometimes has a way of coming between relationships, but not in this case. Bobby and Nelson remained close friends for 24 years.
“We didn’t have any animosity between each other, and we loved each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better tag team partner,” said Horne. Nelson was top-notch. He was like my big little brother.”
Favorite wrestler: Shawn Michaels
Career highlight: Mabel and I wrestling against Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels in Madison Square Garden.
Favorite band: Stone Temple Pilots
Favorite sports team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Hobbies: Saving kids
Dog or cat person: A dog person
Favorite food: Chinese food
Movies I’ve seen multiple times: Straight Out of Compton
Favorite actor: Morgan Freeman
Favorite color: Purple
A book that you’ve read: The Five Love Languages
Favorite dessert: Pecan pie
Favorite state: North Carolina