Ann-Marie Rae, a former bodybuilding, professional World Championship Wrestling competitor known as Midnight, now serves as a guiding light for young people throughout South Florida.
Rae, 44, will address young and old alike on Wednesday evening, July 28 at 7 p.m. at the Christ Community Church at 901 East McNab Road in Pompano Beach. She will spread the word on how to live a positive and productive life.
Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.
“It’s very important that we start to show our children how to develop a positive self-image, and that they are all unique in their own way,” Rae said. “We need and have to show [young people] that there is something special they have each been gifted with that no one else can do as well as they can.”
She continued, “They need to identify that gift or talent and start now to nurture and develop it so that they can be all that they have been called and destined to become.”
Rae, who has assisted and motivated teenagers and young adults at venues such as the North Lauderdale Boys & Girls Club, was invited to speak at Christ Community Church by Pastor Edward Hernandez and his wife, Amanda, after they heard how effective Rae has been in reaching youth.
“Given our group of kids, her past, and her career as a former professional wrestler, we felt that the kids could better relate to her as opposed to another speaker,” said Amanda Hernandez, the church spokeswoman.
The Rev. Edward Hernandez agreed.
“It was [Rae’s] character that attracted us to her,” he said. “She is passionate about what she says and passionate in her desire to motivate young people to do better.”
Rae, who now juggles a career as a licensed real estate broker and the co-owner, with her fiancée, of a fire safety equipment company called Redemption Fire, began her work as a motivational speaker after she became a born-again Christian three years ago on Christmas Eve.
“Although I had all of the material things one would want, I was in a bad marriage and in a bad situation, and found myself fully turning to God for the answers I needed,” Rae said.
Rae said that she has never been happier: She divorced her husband, found love once again, and discovered that all of the adventures she has had in her life and career pointed her in one direction: to give back to the community, especially the black and African-American community.
“This is the most important thing I have ever done in my life,” Rae said.
And what a life it has been: Rae was born in Jamaica and moved to South Florida with her family when she was 13 years old. After completing high school, she joined the United States Air Force, and spent two years based in Germany.
Then, in the early 1990s, the woman then known as Ann Marie Crooks became a competitive bodybuilder, winning and placing in several contests.
One day in the late 1990s, when Rae was in South Beach, the strong, beautiful, muscular, athletic woman was discovered by a WCW wrestling executive, and was given the opportunity to become a professional wrestler.
Rae jumped at the chance, began training at the infamous WCW Power Plant gym in Atlanta, signed a contract, and a year later launched a career as a professional wrestler named Midnight.
Rae was best known as being part of the Harlem Heat, which also consisted of black pro wrestlers Booker T. and Stevie Ray. She left the tough world of wrestling in 2000, tried her hand at several business ventures, and is now at a place in her life where she says she is at her happiest.
“When I speak at Christ Community Church, I want the young people to walk away knowing that life is filled with trials and tribulations, but we will succeed as long as we adhere to God’s plan, make the right choices, associate with the right people, and learn how to develop our strengths.”
Photo by Khary Bruyning. Ana-Marie Rae
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Former WCW professional wrestler Midnight (Ana-Marie Rae) will give an inspiring motivational talk to young and old alike.
WHERE: Christ Community Church, 901 E. McNab Road; Pompano Beach.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 7 p.m.