Victor the Bear


I, like many, grew up with an older brother, Mark, who was the bane to my youth. Seven years older, always much bigger (eventually topping out at 6’ 2”, 220 pounds), and consistently entertained by my torment. No matter how hard I tried, I could never seem to best him in anything or have any revenge. I could punch him with all my strength, and he would just laugh.


As fate would have it, our father was a Free Mason and both my brother and I were in the Fraternal Order of DeMolay, a preparatory youth version for boys from twelve to twenty-one. At one of the events they held for fund-raising, they were going to have a live bear that brave souls could chance to wrestle. I know this sounds crazy in this day and age, but back then entertainment did not all come on digital devices. My ever-so-arrogant brother immediately decides he will test this bear. It may have been the one time in my life where I felt like my prayers were answered and I was betting heavily on the bear. I wanted nothing more than to see my brother eaten by a bear. Sounds horrible when you say it, but that is what I had been driven to.


The fateful evening came, and I was electric with excitement. My brother got some last-minute instructions from the handler and then walked in to face a bear that had been declawed and was muzzled. So much for Mark getting eaten, but still the bear looked twice his size, so my wager still seemed prudent. Mark made a fine show of it taunting and grappling for a bit, but when the bear had enough, he easily swatted him across the mat. Though Mark escaped uninjured, it was still a glorious victory for the bear and vicariously for yours truly. That bear became the hero of my youth.


In the time we had together before he passed, we recalled some of these unforgettable moments of our lives together. I shared with him how tremendously I had favored the bear. Oddly, it was a little disappointing to hear that, from his perspective, he thought he had won against the bear. I assured him that his thinking was flawed but didn’t demand a rematch. I still love that bear!


A FB post taken from my brother’s page, posted May 29, 2014 for Throw Back Thursday:

“Not the best pic ever taken, but somewhere there in the middle is me in a blue shirt wrestling “Victor the Bear”. It was at the old Outdoors Show at the Farm Show Arena around the early ’80’s. Witnessed by my brother, my friend Mike Harclerode and my ex-wife….and no matter how THEY tell the story, I whooped that bears arse.”


20 Responses to “Victor the Bear”
  1. beth says:

    all about perspective – great story and glad you had the chance to revisit it with him

  2. You may not have bested Mark in physical strength then, but you bested him in so many other things! Plus, in that last 10 years of his life, before he got sick, you could have whooped his ass and laughed at him lying on the ground before helping him back up! Another great story-telling read!

  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    A great story Brad, what would we be without moments such as these…

  4. kristianw84 says:

    I love reading these personal posts and learning more about you. Highly entertaining and well-written.

  5. Great story, great post. Funny how my siblings remember my stories in different ways than I do.

  6. petespringerauthor says:

    History can be remembered differently depending on one’s perspective. I don’t know if it still exists today, but I remember when we were traveling through Florida when I was a kid, there were exhibitions of people wrestling against alligators. Even from a little kid’s perspective, I thought, “That doesn’t seem very safe.”

  7. Jim Borden says:

    love the story, andlyour brother’s self confidence. at least he hung in there for a while with a bear. not many people could say that…

  8. jonicaggiano says:

    What a great story Brad. You are not the only man I know that has had an older brother that was determined to somehow demean, embarrass or just flat bet him at everything. In every case I have thought that actually the older brother was jealous of the younger brother. You are kind, gracious, intelligent, and a man of great ethics. That is a man to look up too. I know I do. Have a blessed day Brad and sending my hugs and love ❤️ Jonikins

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I am sure, as is the case with most sibling rivalries, the jealousy ran in both directions. Thanks Jonikins!

      • jonicaggiano says:

        I think boys are different then girls or maybe I am just weird. I came from a family of three girls 13 months apart exactly. “Leave babies,” and then ten years later another girl born. I looked up to and admire my older sister and took care of my little sister. Sending you more love ❤️ Jonikins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: