"It's been my dream since I was 11 to wrestle a fully grown African lion," Merkenson told reporters. "I've been working this whole time toward that goal, and I feel like I'm finally ready to take it on, sort of."
Justin's parents, Larry and Marylou Merkenson, acknowledge they've faced criticism for allowing their son to take on a challenge many see as too dangerous for a boy his age, or any age, really."I do grapple with it," concedes Larry Merkenson. "But he's ready for it from the standpoint of animal wrestling ability, and emotionally I believe he's ready to tackle this head-on.
"I've tried to scare him away from it by showing him some ugly stuff that can happen when you get that close to a ferocious jungle predator, but he just gets more encouraged," he said. "He's kind of stupid that way."
Justin notes that he began wrestling small animals, like cats and possums, at age 13, moving up to larger-breed dogs and eventually more aggressive creatures like raccoons and domestic goats.
"The ones with the horns can get pretty nasty," said Justin.
He plans to keep a record of his attempt via a blog called Justin's Lion Wrestling Blog, although he admitted it might be difficult to type while attempting to keep his head out of the lion's massive jaws. "But nobody ever said this would be easy, I don't think," he noted.
Still, opposition to the attempt is mounting. Darlene Fortenski, spokeswoman for Mothers Against Everything (MAE), denounced the idea, calling it "a very bad choice."[Read the rest at CAP News.]