Organization puts headlock on hunger


“When you’re hungry, nothing else matters.” — William Murdock

As executive director of the Asheville-based Eblen Charities, Bill Murdock knows all too well about hunger and the devastating

Last year Murdock’s organization reached more than 150,000 needy individuals with more than 70 programs providing medical, utility, rent, clothing, food and emergency assistance. Continue reading “Organization puts headlock on hunger”

WWE stars to headline WNC food drive

Claire Hansen, [email protected] 3:45 p.m. EDT June 27, 2016

ASHEVILLE- Two World Wrestling Entertainment stars and hall of fame members will join Ingles Market and Eblen Charities for the second annual Headlock on Hunger Food Drive, Eblen announced in a press release.

The drive, benefiting the Ingles/Eblen Food for Thought Program, will be 4:30 a.m.-7 p.m. June 29 at the Ingles on Tunnel Road. It is sponsored by Ingles Markets, iHeart Media, the Asheville Citizen-Times and Eblen Charities.

Hall of fame broadcaster, former WWE Executive Vice President and current Fox Sports commentator Jim Ross will be at the event from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and again 4-6 p.m. collecting food and donations. Former world wrestling champion and WWE Hall-of-Famer Jimmy Garvin will be at the drive as well, taking donations from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Headlock on Hunger drive aims to bring together public, private and sports organization to help provide meals for local students who may not have enough to eat at home during extended holiday breaks. The drive also aims to provide snacks for students in primary and elementary schools, as well as students in after school programs, whose parents cannot afford them.

Eblen Charities wrestles against hunger

Beth Walton, [email protected] 11:01 a.m. EDT May 28, 2015

ASHEVILLE – Last week, Eblen Charities took its fight to end hunger to the wrestling mat.

On Wednesday, professional wrestler Elizabeth Kocianski, better known by her ring name “Beth Phoenix,” partnered with the charity to distribute food at Hominy Valley Elementary School, Sand Hill-Venable Elementary and Enka Middle School.

Kocianski is a former World Wrestling Entertainment Divas Champion and a three-time WWE Women’s Champion.

The visit was part of Eblen Charities new Headlock on Hunger initiative. Started this fall, Headlock on Hunger encourages local wrestling teams to collect food donations for children in need.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Fox Sports Network have partnered with Eblen Charities for the project, a continuation of its Arby’s Eblen Joyfull Home for the Holidays and Ingles’ Eblen Food for Thought programs.

Child hunger statistics show that one out of five children does not have enough food at home, said Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities. Sometimes, the only meal a student receives is at school. Over the summer and during holiday breaks, finding food can be challenging.

“It just great to see this great public-private partnerships that brings Ingles, Arbys, the school system, as well as the wresting and mixed martial arts communities together,” Murdock said. “It’s everyone joining together to make sure every child has enough to eat.”

Get Involved

Join the fight against the hunger and meet wrestling stars Beth Phoenix, Edge and Jim Ross at a food drive scheduled for June 10 at Ingles, 29 Tunnel Rd., from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Events will also take place on June 11 at the Ingles store at 575 New Leicester Highway and the store at 2299 U.S. 70 / Swannanoa. June 12 food drives will be at 1141 Tunnel Rd. and 1865 Hendersonville Rd.


World Wrestling Entertainment Superstars Join Ingles and Eblen Charities in   Fighting Childhood Hunger with Ingles / Eblen Food for Thought Program

It has been less than a year since the most recognizable and influential names in the world of amateur  wrestling and sports entertainment came to Asheville to   announce Eblen Charities’ new children’s hunger initiative Headlock on Hunger at UNCA’s Kimmel Arena.

Since that announcement hundreds of students in our community have received thousands of meals and snacks thanks to area and national wrestling teams, coaches, and fans.

As successful as the program has been the fight is far from over.

As a student,when you are hungry – you can’t study,

when you are hungry  – you can’t think, when you are hungry – you know that you are different from your friends who have enough to eat at home when you don’t.

You know you have a   secret to keep.

When you are hungry – nothing else matters.

On Wednesday June 10th Ingles Markets is once again reaching out to help ensure that no student in our community goes hungry with the inaugural Headlock on Hunger Food Drive at Ingles on Tunnel Road. September 10th

Wrestling Entertainment Executive Vice-President and current Fox Sports commentator Jim Ross, former sixteen-time world heavyweight champion Adam Copeland who wrestled as Edge, and former world’s women wrestling and Diva’s Champion  Beth Kocianski who was known in the ring as Beth Phoenix will be  at the event collecting food and donations for Headlock on Hunger.

In addition many of Ingles vendors have joined us by generously donating their products to make sure all students will not have to face hunger.

“We are excited and most grateful to Ingles, their vendors once again, as well as Jim, Adam, and Beth who have joined us for Headlock on Hunger, not only lending their name but their time and effort to touch so many children and continue our fight against children’s hunger in our community” states Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities.

“I am honored to be a part of the Headlock on Hunger team as there is nothing more important or rewarding than to help feed a child in need. Hunger will be pinned!” adds

Jim Ross.

Jim will also be appearing at various Ingles in our area on Thursday June 11th and Friday June 12th as Ingles launches JR’s Barbeque Sauce in their stores.










Headlock on Hunger brings together public, private, and sports organizations to help provide meals for students who may not have enough to eat at home.


An outgrowth of the Ingles / Eblen Food for Thought Program and the Arby’s / Eblen JoyFull Home for the Holidays, Headlock on Hunger assists in filling the gap during those times the students are away from school and provide food at home as well as providing tens of thousands of snacks during the school day for primary, elementary, and after school programs.


Many thanks to our Headlock on Hunger Food Drive Partners including Ingles Markets, iHeartRadio-Asheville, the Asheville Citizen-Times, and all of the participating Ingles vendors. Special thanks to Bobby Ingle, Jim Lanning, Tom Outlaw, and Melissa Leavell of Ingles for making this event possible.

SoCon wrestlers do well with “Headlock On Hunger”

March 7, 2015  By: Tyler Norris Goode

ASHEVILLE – Because getting to a lower weight class is common to the sport, most wrestlers who battled for Southern Conference titles Saturday at Kimmel Arena have some idea what it’s like to go without regular food rations.

There is one key difference between the SoCon’s best grapplers and the Buncombe County residents they helped by bringing thousands of pounds of nonperishable food items to be given away as part of Eblen Charities’ “Headlock On Hunger” program: The athletes know where their next meal is coming from.

But as Virginia Military coach Chris Skretkowicz pointed out, the steps wrestlers take to compete at different weights give them sympathy for those battling food instability.

“I would not wish hunger on my worst enemy,” Skretkowicz said.

Neither apparently would any of the other league’s athletes and coaches whose donations impressed

Bill Murdock, executive director for Eblen Charities.

Murdock estimated more than 10,000 pounds were delivered by league schools in addition to cash gifts of more than $3,000 through the wrestling drive as well as the “Hoops Against Hunger” effort through the SoCon Basketball Championships.

Murdock said the food will be given to qualified Buncombe County and Asheville City public school students to take home over spring break.

“We know one thing: when you’re hungry, nothing else matters,” Murdock said. “You’re not able to study. You’re not able to think. You’re not able to have a regular academic career because you have a secret; you know you’re different from some of the other kids who do have enough food at home.”

Murdock said there was no official competition to see which school could bring the most boxed and canned items, but he added VMI probably brought more than anyone – roughly 700 pounds. Davidson’s wrestlers brought an estimated 500 pounds. (Continued on page 3)

Skretkowicz said his school actually did hold a contest to see which of VMI’s 11 military companies could produce the largest haul.“It wasn’t just our wrestling team; it was our school who did it,” Skretkowicz said. “They’re really big on who’s company is best.

“To me, this is a close topic for wrestlers because wrestlers know what it’s like to go hungry at times,” added Skretkowicz, who wrestled collegiately for Hofstra. “But what we do is voluntary. For someone who has no option … we just have compassion for these families. We want to help them.”

A sophomore who competes for VMI at the 125 weight class, Dalton Henderson said his past experiences with backing off on regular eating rations ahead of weigh-ins are etched in memory. “Your energy goes down a little bit, and it starts getting depressing because your moods can really change,” Henderson said. “Just depending on how long you’ve gone without food or how long you’ve gone without drinking something, it can really affect how you react.”

Murdock said the donations are extremely vital for times like spring break, when some local children have little at home to eat.“One story we’ve heard is a local middle school student who’d been at home for two weeks over Christmas break,” Murdock said. “When she came back to school, she went to the counselor’s office and was eating corn meal straight out of the box. We’re not talking about inner-city Chicago; this is right here. And unfortunately, it’s that way in every community.”

Eblen kicks off ‘Headlock on Hunger’ campaign

By: Bob Berghaus

ASHEVILLE – Two of the more recognizable names in wrestling were at Kimmel Arena on Wednesday to help launch a national program that will help provide meals for those who don’t get enough to eat.

“Headlock for Hunger,” an initiative by Eblen Charities, was announced during a luncheon on Wednesday that included the Southern Conference, which is partnering with “Headlock on Hunger” on a local and regional level. The SoCon wrestling tournament will be held at Kimmel on March 7.

Helping spread the word were Jim Ross, a longtime wrestling announcer best known for his work with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and a former college coach and world-class wrestler.

“I don’t believe there should be any hungry children,” said Ross, who now works for Fox Sports. “I think our federal government does a swell job of talking about obesity but they don’t talk enough about feeding hungry kids.”

Ross told a story of how he learned early the importance of helping those in need. His grandmother owned a grocery store in Oklahoma and those who didn’t have enough money were given a ticket that allowed them to pay her back at a later time if they found sufficient funds.

“I’ve had a fortunate and great career, bigger than my wildest dreams and I want to be able to give back,” he said. Smith, who won a silver medal at the 1983 World Championships and later had a successful coaching career at Arizona State, has a friendship with Eblen executive director Bill Murdock, who serves on a board at the wrestling hall of fame.

“I’ve been encouraging Bill to get involved with wrestling on a national level for a long time,” Smith said.

“This is a work in progress, were just getting started on this campaign. It’s great to have the Southern (Conference tournament) here in Asheville. The conference has been an emerging conference for a number of years. Several of the programs have upped their commitment by hiring the coaches they have and they’re doing very well and having success at the NCAA level.”

Locally, high school teams and youth wrestling programs will be encouraged to collect food and monetary donations that can then be handed over to Headlock on Hunger during the SoCon wrestling tournament, which will be held in conjunction with the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Eblen is involved in two other similar ventures: the Arby’s/Eblen Joyfull Home for the Holidays and the Ingles/Eblen Food for Thought programs.  “This makes our food outreach stronger,” Murdock said.

Headlock on Hunger will work with high school, youth and college programs throughout the country to collect food and raise money for their respective communities.

“Jim, Lee Roy and I have been talking about the Headlock on Hunger program for some time and we thought it would be a great fit to involve the Southern Conference,” Murdock said.

Others that are part of the program include Arby’s, Ingles Markets, Pepsi, the Heath Shuler Foundation, JR’s Family Bar-B-Q (owned by Ross), the Brumit Restaurant Group and the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission.

Headlock on Hunger has Some Big Name Supporters

By: Kari Williams  – August 5, 2015

As the 2015 recipient of the Frank Gotch Award, the former Glamazon Beth Phoenix has focused her career on being the best version of herself, which led to three WWE women’s championship reigns and, ultimately, to her current work with Headlock on Hunger.

Phoenix said while others who have received the award that recognizes philanthropic work outside the ring “have done incredible things in the world,” she feels as though she’s just starting to scratch the surface.

“I hope that I can make everybody proud,” Phoenix said, “and make them feel like they made a good choice in choosing me to receive this honor.”

Phoenix said at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction ceremony in mid-July that she partnered with Eblen Charities’ Headlock on Hunger organization, spearheaded by Bill Murdock, because her daughter, Lyric, “means so much.” She joins many other wrestlers who have taken up the fight against childhood hunger, which affects one out of five children.

“No child should ever feel empty. No child should ever have to be fearful of what tomorrow (will bring),” Phoenix said. “Eblen Charities, under the guidance of its unsung hero Bill Murdock, has begun organizing an army to head to the front-lines of this battle.”

The former WWE Divas Champion works alongside national chairman Jim Ross, Adam “Edge” Copeland, Nikita Koloff, Lex Luger, Shawn Michaels, Gerald Brisco, Road Warrior Animal, award winning journalist Mike Mooneyham, Brian Blair, WWE official artist Rob Shamberger, Dan Gable, Lee Roy Smith, and others to help ensure that no child goes hungry.

Ross, who emceed the induction ceremony in Waterloo, and has become a national spokesman for Headlock on Hunger, said Murdock “does more good-hearted charitable work” than anyone else he has met.

“He’s a guy that’s written books about Mother Theresa, and he does more for people in need than anyone I have ever known,” Ross said to the hall of fame attendees.

Brian Blair, the 2015 recipient of the Lou Thesz Award and supporter of Headlock on Hunger, said during his induction speech that his family life reminds him of the organization’s cause, though his situation wasn’t as dire. After his parents divorced, he said the family started buying “powdered eggs and powdered milk and all this stuff that I didn’t like to eat.”

“It just was really bad,” Blair said, “but my mom didn’t really say much when I kept asking her, ‘When are we gonna have some chicken or some hamburger or some beef or some meat?’” Then one day during fifth grade, Blair said, his mom gave him the necessary coupons and let him buy groceries. While at the register, some sixth-graders approached him.

“(I had the) cash register lady asking me for money at the same time, and I didn’t want to bring the coupons out, but I did,” Blair said, “and anyway, handed them to her and she handed me the voucher back like my mom told me that she would and I heard this heckling from the audience in the line.

Gerald Brisco, who also works with the organization and introduced Blair during the induction, said the issue of childhood hunger is “near and dear to every one of us.”

“As a wrestler, we went hungry by choice. Because we had to because we had to make weight,” Brisco said.

But the children around the nation going hungry have no choice.”They have no funds, no means to get food,” Brisco said.

“And it’s up to each and every one of us to provide for those means and those funds … (Headlock on Hunger is) an organization that’s near and dear to me, and I’ll give my last breath to the organization.”

The non-profit, based in Asheville, N.C., collects “food and cash donations during the wrestling season at meets (and) tournaments,” along with creating social media campaigns to further its cause, according to its website.

For more information on Headlock on Hunger, visit