A pro wrestling champ receives the key to Oyster Bay

Pro wrestler Maxwell Jacob Friedman, second from left, the AEW World Champion, received the key to the Town of Oyster Bay April 5 from Supervisor Joseph Saladino, second from right. // Photo by Yaw Bonsu/Long Island Advocate

By Yaw Bonsu

Decked out in a classic two-piece suit, popped dress shirt collar and one of his 55 Burberry scarves, one of professional wrestling’s rising stars made his way home to Long Island on Tuesday.

“Ladies and gentlemen, just in case you are deaf, dumb, blind, stupid or poor, my name is Maxwell Jacob Friedman,” he said. “I am the youngest and fastest rising star in the history of professional wrestling.”

All Elite Wrestling World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman, 27, better known as ‘MJF,’ was honored with a key to the Town of Oyster Bay. The ceremony took place at the township’s town hall, with the star wrestler surrounded by friends, family and fans.

“The only place that has people I care about is UBS Arena, so it feels like home every time I come to UBS,” Friedman noted.

The champion is back on the Island as AEW prepares for a show at UBS Arena this Wednesday, but he took the week to reflect back on his high school days, especially when receiving the key to the town.

Friedman was a linebacker for Plainview-Old Bethpage High School, notching All-County Honorable Mention during the 2013-14 school year. 

“When I was a young man and I tried out for the football team and I got to start at middle linebacker my first year trying out, there were some kids that didn’t appreciate that,” Friedman recalled. “They threw quarters at me and said, ‘Pick it up Jew boy.’

As someone who practiced Judaism, Friedman has made anti-Semitism a focus of his philanthropic efforts, partnering with All Elite Wrestling to combat acts of violence against the Jewish community. 

“It’s unfortunate when Max was young he did encounter anti-Semitism, as I did as a kid,” said MJF’s father, Steven. “It affected Max pretty hardcore because to this day he’s really proud of the fact that he’s Jewish.”

“I know for a fact that every single time I’m on the TV screen, there’s a little Jewish kid that gets to watch me, and he gets to see someone who’s cool and in shape, and a world champion and a world beater,” Friedman said. 

Friedman debuted with All Elite Wrestling in 2019, signing a five-year contract. Three years later, Friedman won the promotion’s World Championship at the “All Out” event in September 2022.

Friedman, left, showed off his AEW championship belt with Saladino, center. // Photo by Yaw Bonsu/Long Island Advocate

“He’s a lot out there because of his way, and he’s a hurricane and he’s got a mouth on him,” Nina Friedman, MJF’s mom, said. “He’s our jerk.”

The parent-proclaimed jerk said he never forgets where he came from, as it shaped the loud-mouthed, often controversial figure that he is, both in and out of the ring.

But it’s that same way he carries himself that led him to be honored with the key to the town, an honor that he will never forget.

“When I come here, I just legit feel at ease. This place doesn’t just feel like home, it is home,” Friedman said. “…and it means the world that I now have a key to that home. It means everything to me.”