Between the Ropes

Between the Ropes

Last month, we featured pole fitness for guys out there looking to try alternative sports. This time, we are taking you on the road to something that is just as physically challenging and perhaps, as some might say, a little controversial.

It is no longer a secret that professional wrestling matches are choreographed with predetermined outcomes. The legitimacy of the sport has constantly been the subject of debates between fans and critics. Yet it is still quite popular and has even slipped into today's pop culture. But did you know that pro-wrestling began in a carnival?

Wrestling matches in circus fairs
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Back in the 16th century in England, the circus fairs usually featured performances like acrobatic acts, comedy routines and wrestling matches. They adopted the catch as catch can style which is a variation of Greco-Roman wrestling. After the Civil War in New England in the 1800s, Irish immigrants introduced to them a new form of wrestling called collar and elbow.

Wrestlers in various costumes
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On top of that, wrestlers also had creative personas while wearing colourful costumes. One would become the circus strongman while the rest would be hookers because they would apply crippling holds called “hooks” onto their opponents. Sometimes, one would take on the role of a local countryman either a labourer or farmer to beat the strongman in a match in an effort to entertain the crowd even more.

Hey, women can wrestle too!
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It is said that women are no stranger to the general sport of wrestling either probably since the days of ancient Greece but lady pro-wrestling specifically first started out as a sideshow attraction at these fairs. It was only in the early and middle part of the 20th century that it became a true crowd-pleaser.

Either he’s in pain or he saw something creepy in the crowd…
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In order to attract and keep the viewers interested throughout the entire show, wrestlers need to sell which is reacting to each other’s moves. As part of the match, wrestlers would need to take a bump or two which requires physical training to build up pain tolerance too. It is no joke taking a fall more than once while still being able to get back up and continue with the planned fight. These feuds portrayed between competitors are made to look believable which is why they are actually working together during matches. This is called a work where everything from what they do in the ring to what they say to each other is scripted. However there are some genuine cases which have been said to be free of creative team involvement and this is known as a shoot.

What not to do when greeting your boss at work
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For years, pro wrestling has blurred the line between reality and fiction. It keeps the business alive by showcasing the fights to be dramatic for entertainment. Thus, creative planning needs to be kept a secret within the company, to the point of having a whole other language with their own terms shared by others in the industry. A similar system is also used among wrestlers back in the old carnival day; speaking in their secret tongue in pig latin they called “carny”.

“But aren’t we bros? Let’s hug it out!”
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Today, there are many major promotions around the world like the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the United States and New Japan Pro-Wrestling in Japan. This reflects how much the sport has gained in popularity over the years despite it still being a niche sport.

Female wrestlers today can do what men can do while still looking pretty
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Even the women get to shine as much as the men, showcasing their prowess in the ring. There are also companies that feature strictly female talents like REINA and SHIMMER. In mixed-gender promotions like WWE, women sometimes even compete with guys who are bigger than them! This ever-growing interest has compelled more pro-wrestling schools to open up in many places to train new talents, both male and female. Our little sunny island here is no exception.

Just four of the stars from the SPW talent roster
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Hailing as the first Singapore and first Southeast Asian professional wrestling school is Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW). They offer classes taught by head trainer Vadim Koryagin, the director of Independent Wrestling Federation in Russia, and co-founder Andruew Tang who is also SPW’s operations director. Since the school’s inception in February 2012, they have grown in roster size for their showcase events like the latest one at PROVE on 23 November 2013.

Making Singapore proud one leap at a time
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SPW also boasts the first ever Singapore female wrestler, Lee Xin Yi, who is only 18 years old. She made local headlines when she beat three other guys in the Junior Cup match at the Breakthrough tournament this past August. The high-flying rookie is a student from Republic Polytechnic who first developed an interest in the sport as a fan during primary school. After the recent transition to becoming a performer in the squared circle, she has worked harder to build up her body fitness level.

Pro-wrestling involves a lot more physical training than one might think. Behind the theatrical elements of this niche sport at its finest, these men and women can still be considered top athletes. Clearly there are many risks involved especially with the "stunts" that they do but with proper training and preparation, it can be quite safe.

So if you are looking for a fitness option that is different than the usual, check out this alternative sport of pro-wrestling!

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