IN A RECENT column about Karl Malone and his "wrestling" debut, I asked "wrestling" fans not to respond with letters because: they wouldn't change my mind about the "sport" and they'd be wasting their time, and I get enough pointless mail from Publishers Clearing House. But did "wrestling" fans listen? Noo-oooo. They just had to straighten me out. They just had to write.

I'm just glad they didn't listen to me. Let's go to the old Deseret News mailbag, and thanks for writing my column for me in mid-July:LETTER NO. 1: I am not trying to persuade you to watch wrestling but there are REAL athletes in this sport . . . There are men who wrestle on thumbtacks, in barb wire, with fire, steel cages made out of barb wire and much more gruesome stuff (by the way, the blood is real) . . . What you see may surprise you - for example, this year's King of the Ring, which involved a man falling 16 feet through a table. Three teeth went through his lip, (and he sustained) a dislocated shoulder, two broken ribs, a concussion, and still finished the match, which involved another 10-foot fall off the top of a cell. Remember, it's entertainment.

Hmmm, sounds like fun. Sorry I missed it. I'm holding out for something better - like a plane crash or a hit-and-run accident. I'm hoping for a good decapitation.

LETTER NO. 2: I'd just like to point out that wrestling draws HIGHER RATINGS than the NBA . . . and wrestling is on CABLE.

A LOT of people WATCH Jerry Springer, stick RINGS in their NOSES and EAT blood sausage, TOO.

LETTER NO. 3: . . . Wrestling has gotten dissed from the likes of ESPN's Linda Cohn, NBC's Bob Costas, and nameless writers like yourself. What's the problem? The fact that these guys have more of a following than you? Or the fact that they have more talent? . . . I think the real reason is that you're scared.

Scared? Moi!? Hah! I once stood in the middle of a locker room while a football coach bounced metal folding chairs off the far wall. I've interviewed Red Auerbach, one on one! I've stood in the same room with Bobby Knight and Nolan Richardson and didn't even have my following to back me up.

LETTER NO. 4: What makes wrestling so bad? The fact that it is staged, or the fact that people like you have given it a bad rep and everyone follows along with it?

Neither. It's the Spandex. That, and it's just so scary.

LETTER NO. 5: Just a comment on your article on wrestling . . . you listed six rules of wrestling; the first was "no guns, machetes or explosives." That's not true.

In IWA, New Japan, Big Japan (all Japanese wrestling federations) and to a more limited extent ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling, from Philly), items such as those (except for guns) are used regularly.

For example, Big Japan's "Ultimate Death Match" included, (among the light bulbs, broken glass, cactus and barbed wire) knives, power drills, and reciprocating saws (a little more vicious than a machete, I would think.) And, as for explosives, Japan has a history of putting on "Time Bomb Exploding Ring" matches (where the ring literally blows up, normally causing second- or third-degree burns to the participants). ECW apparently is looking for an outdoor venue to put one of these events on in the USA.

Thanks for straightening me out. So who says the world is going to you-know-where in a handbasket? Personally, I think they've only scratched the surface. Consider the possibilities for ordinary Bic razors, cigarette lighters, golf clubs and nail guns? I get goosebumps just thinking about it. And then there are some fabulous household appliances to consider: electric can openers, curling irons, a hot glue gun, salad forks. But my favorite idea: wrestling on hot vinyl car seats.

LETTER No. 6: So what if it is staged. If you watch a wrestling match I assure you that thought never crosses your mind while you are watching.

That's funny. I was at a wrestling match the other day in San Diego, and it never crossed my mind that it wasn't staged.

LETTER NO. 7: The fact is these guys are probably the greatest entertainers around. Give them the credit they deserve.

I really should give credit to entertainers whose schtick is spitting, slapping, biting and pain. My hat's off to the Three Stooges.

LETTER NO. 8: Nobody can really explain ECW except that it is bloody and as close to REAL fighting as wrestling can get in the states. For instance, they fight in barb wire. Terry Funk took part in a barb-wire match last year when he was 53 years old. In my book that counts for a lot because his opponent wrapped himself in barb wire, wrapped Funk in barb wire, then put him through a table. The result was 100-plus stitches in his left bicep. You should really take a look at this type of wrestling. Not only will you understand why wrestling is so popular, I seriously think you will actually like it. Lots of Blood, Hot Women, Bad Language, etc. . . .

Sounds like more fun. Please, keep taking your medication.

LETTER NO. 9: (Wrestlers) are some of the best conditioned athletes in the world. How many people could be in constant motion, running across the ring, etc., for 30 to 60 minutes?

I know of at least one: my 10-year-old daughter.

LETTER NO. 10: I read your article. You know what? You make me sick. You sit your (rude word for derriere) in front of a typewriter and write this piece of junk while these `wrestlers' are out busting their (derriere) giving fans entertainment. All you give people is a head ache.

What's your point? By the way, this column comes equipped with aspirin. P.S. What's a typewriter?