Zach Gowen’s journey takes him from losing a leg to cancer, to professional wrestling, to drug addiction, recovery, now yoga.
When Zach Gowen has gotten knocked to the mat during his life — whether by bone cancer or drug addiction — he’s somehow managed to get back up.
Perhaps wobblier than some, which is understandable. The 35-year-old Livonia Churchill alum lost his left leg to osteosarcoma when he was just 8 years old.
“All I did was play sports when I was a kid,” said Gowen, a Plymouth resident. “So it was super-devastating to have my leg taken away, because I couldn’t keep up with my friends on the ball field or on the basketball court.”
Gowen’s extreme roller-coaster ride — he was a headliner on the World Wrestling Entertainment bill at age 20, but by 25 he had to sell pizzas to support his drug addiction — might have been too much for him to bear.
But then he got hooked on something else to get high. He discovered Diamond Dallas Page’s yoga program, as well as a burning desire to help people become champions of body, mind and possibility.
The root of it
On Aug. 8 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Gowen (with Bryan Durren) taught DDP Yoga to about 150 people as part of the Summer Yoga Series presented by Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
“Everything I do is rooted in spiritual principles,” Gowen said during an interview following the LCA session. “So whether it’s talking to kids, doing yoga or wrestling or even how I interact and raise my own kids, it’s all rooted in the same spiritual principles. And so everything I do is an extension of that.
“It’s important for me to make a living, it’s important for me to stay active in my recovery, it’s important for me to be of service to not only myself, not only my family, but my community and the people around me.”
Always in role-model mode, Gowen demonstrated some yoga techniques despite having a prosthetic left leg.
“I’ve been hopping around on one leg since I was 8 years old,” Gowen said. “So I don’t even think about having one leg anymore, it’s just something I’m used to.
“There’s always a way around an obstacle or a challenge or a handicap. You just have to put your mind to it. The secret for me is to figure out what doesn’t work first and, once I figure out what doesn’t work, I’m left with what does work.”