Barry Bonds' new lawyer Allen Ruby was a wrestler

Amid countless cameras and sign-waving fans with nowhere better to be on a working day, a woman wearing only a leaf of lettuce over her tomatoes handed out Vegan sandwiches at Barry BondsSan Francisco court appearance last week.

Clearly we have left the real world and entered the surreal. Yet Bonds has chosen wisely – his lead attorney, Allen Ruby, is no stranger to standing up in front of maniacal crowds and bellowing into the cameras what he will do to his opponent. That’s because Ruby – a boffo trial attorney who successfully defended the NFL in a billion-dollar Al Davis suit and earlier bled an $80 million settlement out of the federal government – is a former wrestler.

While several papers have noted the hulking San Jose attorney’s athletic past, none have clearly made the distinction that Ruby was not a Rulon Davis, Olympic-type wrestler. He was one of the guys with a cape or a mask who traveled to country fairs in places like Battle Creek, Mich., where he braved bottle- or hatpin-wielding drunks from the audience.

The lawyer’s late father was Bert “The Magyar Hercules” Ruby, a Hungarian immigrant who worked his way from fighting cage matches at Canadian gas stations in the 1930s to owning his own Detroit-based wrestling troupe. By the time Allen Ruby was 17, he was co-hosting his father’s local wrestling TV show, “Motor City Wrestling.” “I learned how to get beat and not whine about it, and that was the most valuable lesson I could have learned as a trial lawyer,” he told Stanford Lawyer magazine in 2001.

Of course, in pro wrestling, you likely learned if you’d win or lose in the changing room before the match when you went over the night’s script. But at this point in the federal trial, no one knows whether Ruby and Bonds’ other lawyers will win an acquittal for their client.

One thing’s for certain though: There’ll be plenty more klieg lights, breathless coverage and, in all likelihood, gals wearing flora and four-inch heels handing out Vegan sandwiches. Taking in the flood-the-zone media coverage of Bonds’ plea entry (not guilty, by the way), one retired judge shook his head. “I think,” he said of Ruby’s wrestling experience, “that it’s a transferable skill.”

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