Matt Graifer, a teacher at Matanzas High School, is a proud loud mouth.
By: Tyln Beard
Matt Graifer, known professionally as The Young Professor, doesn’t like making five-year plans. “It’s unrealistic,” he said. “If you asked me five years ago, I would have never thought any of this would be happening.”
Graifer is quickly becoming a well-known voice in the local entertainment world, including his new role as emcee of the Daytona Tortugas games.
He was first recognized for his voice when he was in junior ROTC, he said. “They pulled me out and told me I would be the commander for our group,” he said. Later his team entered a national competition, and he took second place.
That was 2004. After JROTC, Graifer was the keynote speaker at his masters graduation, where he gave a speech titled, “Your Playlist for Success.” Embracing public speaking, he became a college professor in exercise sciences — until he was laid off.
By this time, Graifer had a wife and four children to provide for. To make extra money, he started hosting trivia nights in the area. Now, it's a Palm Coast tradition: Every Tuesday at 7 p.m., for the last four years, The Young Professor has been hosting trivia nights at The Brown Dog, as well as other local bars, restaurants and events. While doing these trivia nights he was always told that his voice sounded great and he should get into sports announcing.
“As a simple question to myself, my wife and I wrote down things we wanted to do as a couple, in our home, and in our professions,” he recalled. “I wrote down on that piece of paper: ‘start announcing in wrestling or sports.’”
Graifer has been a fan of pro wrestling for years, and the wrestling gods repaid him. A few months after he wrote his goal on that paper, an ad was posted by the wrestling school in Daytona Beach. The ad said, “We’re looking for a new ring announcer. You need to be available on Saturdays, and you can’t suck.”
Graifer was available on Saturdays. He hoped he wouldn’t suck.
“I submitted a tryout video to the local wrestling company, and within days I was asked to come and try out,” he said. “I showed up that Saturday; I walked in 15 minutes before the show, and they gave me the card with all of their names, and they told me to go and get their information, their names and their cities. I did the gig, and afterwards I got paid, which I wasn’t expecting, and they asked me to keep coming back.”
For three and a half years now, Graifer has continued to go back. This has led to traveling to more shows and trying out for larger, nationally recognized wrestling companies.
Graifer is now a full-time teacher at Matanzas High School, which is where his wife also works.
This season, he is the emcee for the Daytona Tortugas, a minor league affiliate with the Cincinnati Reds.
“This is a massive opportunity for me,” he said, marveling at his good fortune, with apparently a gift for public speaking but no formal training in it. “I’m just some guy that grew up poor, in a not-so-awesome town in New Jersey, moved here, and didn’t really have a plan. I have just found ways to continue using my voice to entertain people.”