Like many kids of his generation, Upper Iowa University alumnus Mark McDowell ’05 often woke up on weekends, plopped down in front of the TV and watched morning cartoons. The Grinnell, Iowa, native maintained this routine until one day his grandfather turned the channel to professional wrestling. After a brief moment of disappointment, McDowell was quickly fascinated by the entertaining action showcased by the likes of wrestling icons Bulldog Bob Brown, Danny Little Bear and Harley Race.
McDowell remained intrigued by various pro wrestling television shows while growing up and had just completed his service with the U.S. Army when he seriously contemplated getting involved with the athletic entertainment himself. At the time, he was an avid viewer of WWE’s Tough Enough MTV series and was still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life.
“I was either going to go train to be a pro wrestler in Atlanta, Georgia, or go back to school at Upper Iowa,” McDowell said. “I ended up choosing the latter due to the small faculty to student ratio and the opportunity to participate on the football, track and cheer teams. After graduating with a management information systems degree, I moved to Des Moines and began working at Tension Envelope Corporation. But I was still needing an outlet for my inner athlete and was not quite ready to take up slow pitch softball or golf quite yet. It was then I stumbled upon a local wrestling promotion in Des Moines — 3XWrestling. I went to a show and was instantly hooked. It wasn’t as big as WWE, but it was still a professional product and the wrestlers were every bit as larger than life as the ones you saw on television.”
McDowell inquired about the 3XWrestling training program and enrolled in September 2006. He was trained by regional wrestler Brian Ash, who happens to have earned his MBA from Upper Iowa in 2010. McDowell started wrestling consistently about six months later. He has since traveled from Colorado to Tennessee, wrestling 40-60 matches a year. In addition to Ash and his many training partners, McDowell lists wrestling promoters Todd Countryman and Chris Gough, regional wrestlers Jeremy Wyatt, Arik Cannon, Mark Sterling, Derek Stone and Bull Schmitt, and the WWE’s Trevor Murdoch and Hacksaw Jim Duggan among those who have personally influenced his pro wrestling career.
Today, the 43-year-old remains employed as a production planner/purchasing order engineer with Tension Envelope. By night, he turns into 3XWrestling co-owner and championship wrestler Mark “Maddog” McDowell. McDowell typically trains three to five times a week in the gym, and inside the ring on weekends. In addition, the organization hosts a 12- to 16-week Saturday training session and an annual training class for its stable of wrestlers.
Among his long list of pro wrestling accolades, McDowell is a four-time 3X tag team champion and currently holds the 3X heavyweight championship belt. He has also teamed inside the ring with current WWE superstar Seth Rollins and was once featured as a manager for Alicia Fox on a WWE Smackdown House show. In addition to wrestling, McDowell’s duties with the regional wrestling organization include promoting, marketing, graphic design and video production for 30-50 pro wrestlers and approximately 20-25 shows per year.
“There really is nothing quite like pro wrestling, which is why you still see people in their 60s competing in the ring,” McDowell said. “The whole experience provides the wrestlers with a natural high. Meanwhile, the audience experiences an athletic spectacle that showcases the ongoing tale of the bad guy versus good guy, where booing and cheering is encouraged and your inner child is allowed to marvel at one of the oldest forms of entertainment.”
3XWrestling has made three appearances at UIU’s Fayette Campus. As in any performance, McDowell appreciates the opportunity to put smiles on the faces of audience members, saying, “I have always enjoyed the athleticism and pageantry of pro wrestling. Now that I’m part of it, I thrive on entertaining the crowd,
especially the kids that look at you like you’re bigger than life. Doing it in front of the Peacock family makes it just that much more special.”
McDowell is greatly appreciative of the career and social skills that a Peacock education and its diverse campus experience provided him. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, he credits UIU for providing him the tools to become a problem solver in today’s competitive and ever-evolving business world.
McDowell said that when he first started attending UIU in 1993 it was home to a modest Fayette Campus. He noted the student body was small, most of the campus was under asphalt in the form of a parking lot, and the facilities were dated.
“I watched firsthand as Upper Iowa evolved into a premier learning establishment,” McDowell said. “The administration worked hard and alumni provided support for Campus improvements. It made a grand transition by the time I resumed my studies in 2002, but the school didn’t stop there. Improvements continue every year as we strive to become the absolute best we can be. I’m truly proud to be a Peacock.”