An important lesson a friend taught me with his passing.
There are many people I met in the United States Wrestling Federation that I've never called by their given names. Victor J. Cavalera, X-treme, Brando Spade, The Lariat, and Ryan Starr to name a few. The Giant Puma is one of them, and I'm sure he's preferred it that way. I didn't even know what his actual name was until we became friends on Facebook.
Puma was 34-years-old at the time of his passing, the same age range as most of the USWF crew. I'm 33 at the time of this writing. We all assume that we'll live at least into our 70's, if we're lucky. But life is an unpredictable thing, and no greater evidence of that is when one so close to us dies without warning at a young age. As if taking great care to live a safe and long-lasting life weren't hard enough, there are outside forces beyond our control that could either greatly inhibit our health or eliminate us altogether.
Puma created a wonderful family and amassed a collection of the best friends anyone could ask for, and he clearly loved life and made the most of it. How many of us can say we're completely happy with our position in the world? And if we are, is there any way we can make it better? I don't like where I am right now. I know I'm capable of much more than what I've done so far. I've squandered my youth with procrastination and complacency. Do I have enough time to make a definitive mark on the world?
The Giant Puma may have passed, but he'll live forever in the memories and stories of all who knew him. Let his life serve as both a guideline and a warning. Enjoy as much of it as you can and as soon as you can. Because you just never know when it might
Rest In Peace, Matthew Goddu. July 29th, 1980 - January 19th, 2015
The Giant Puma's USWF profile
I'd also like to share the obituary I wrote for The Giant Puma on the USWF Facebook page.
It is with a heavy heart and tremendous sorrow that we report that USWF Legend Matthew "The Giant Puma" Goddu has tragically passed away. He was a beloved father, husband, and friend, and a valuable human being to the entire world. He will be missed by all those fortunate to have met him, and his memory will forever live on in the hearts, minds, and spirits of his family and friends.
The Giant Puma debuted in the United States Wrestling Federation in 1998, although he could be seen in attendance for matches years earlier. He had been a main event caliber star since day one and a Federation mainstay ever since. Very few in the company's history could stand toe to toe with him, and even less could defeat him in a fair fight. He dominated the company for years, and none could command the fear and respect of the locker room as Puma, being a valuable ally to his friends and a nightmare to his opponents as he annihilated them with his finishing move, The Puma Tumor.
His most notable achievements in the squared circle are: five time World Champion, Intercontinental Champion, Canadian Champion, three time Tag Team Champion with Maniac Mike, Six Man Tag Team Champion with Mr. Glen and Luis Cortez, 2009 Rumble of Fears winner, 2010 Wrestler of the Year, and participant in the 2010 Match of the Year with his cousin Bryan Money. In his path of destruction are memorable matches and unforgettable promos.
While we all love the wrestling group that brought us lifelong friends and countless memories, very few held the United States Wrestling Federation so close to his heart as Puma did. Both in his wrestling life and "real" life, he strongly identified himself as The Apex Predator, and was proud to boast of his affiliation with our little "backyard wrestling" club, even getting the promotion's initials tattooed on himself. He was always the most hyped for each show even weeks before their scheduled dates, relishing the opportunity to spend quality time with the men and women he called his extended family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Goddu family. We all love you, brother. Rest in peace, Matthew, and thank you.
And as an added bonus: A few years ago I mused what it would be like if I could attend my own funeral. Puma chimed in with an obituary he wrote on the fly that would have made my corpse tear up.
"Jimmy Gannon,a man we all affectionately refered to as james. A man without ever know i might still be able to pick up chicks. A man who wair his sunday best on a tuesday afternoon. I remember the first encounter between myself and "james". He wore wristbands and an undertaker necklace..i think it was plastic. I didnt have the heart to tell him his attire screamed "mark" or that maybe one of charlies entourage had invited themselves to this gathering. After an extencive time had past uncle jimmy became a close personal friend of mine. Sure we didnt talk daily or hang out or exchange birthday or christmas gifts but i know deep down other than the few tortured and decayed pets found in his home after he passed and of coarse myself,someone will miss him terribly. Just ask the master."