The 30-year-old Rapuano has been hooked on the sport since he was 13 years old, and in the late '90s, he ran hands-down the most consistent, best-attended wrestling events in South Florida with his company Future of Wrestling. "At the time, from nothing, he became the biggest promoter down here," says Bruno Sassi, a Davie-based wrestler with a given name so good he uses it in the ring. "Nobody did anything like Bobby. His claim to fame -- well, I don't know how much fame there is -- he put over 3,000 people in the Davie Rodeo Arena. I think we outdrew the Marlins that night." In South Florida sports terms, that's huge.
Lately, though, Rapuano/Rogers has had his share of scrapes. He pleaded guilty to charges in 1998 that he stole $3,500 in lottery tickets and $3,000 in cash, both from shops where he worked. On a mischievous whim in 1999, he placed his kidney for sale on eBay and stirred an international media cacophony that grew so outsized, it generated a Jeopardy question. Two years ago, a Tampa man complained that Rapuano passed him a bad $9,500 check; sheriff's deputies sent to arrest him instead escorted him to a mental hospital, where he stayed for a week because he had made suicide threats. He was collared again last December, when the Secret Service and U.S. marshals delivered warrants. "When [the authorities] first came around asking me questions, my mistake was that I wasn't cooperative with them and was evasive," he admits. He was held, indicted June 3, and pleaded guilty last month. The feds have recommended he spend the next 70 months in the cooler.
As he awaits sentencing next month, he declines to fess up further -- "I pleaded guilty, I'll put it that way," he says -- but hasn't succumbed to cabin fever.
"Been sitting here working on a book," he adds. "I'd pretty much be a fool not to write one." The working title: Wrestling with the Truth. The movie rights still haven't been snapped up.
-As told to Edmund NewtonReason number 324 why the City of Fort Lauderdale is going broke: The Deferred Retirement Option Program allows a member of the city's senior staff to collect a salaryanda pension check.John H. Kluttz Maintenance Chief