Despite its global popularity, professional wrestling has a largely poor record of looking after performers’ health and wellbeing. Facing barriers of class, economics, snobbery, lack of unionisation or representation, as well as the expectation of macho toughness, professional wrestling has not kept up with improved practices in dance/physical theatre or sport. Modern progressive British professional companies and training schools might be broadly committed to caring for wrestlers’ wellbeing, but there has been no research on the most appropriate methods of care, or the stresses this unique art-sport places on mind and body. Wrestling research at Loughborough University takes a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, conducting a supportive health check of British wrestling in a global context.
An initial exploratory sandpit event took place in November 2019, funded by the Sport and Exercise Beacon at Loughborough University. It brought together wrestlers, medics and academics to identify some of the key issues and concerns.
The team then secured funding from the British Academy to fund the Health and Wellbeing in Professional Wrestling project. This project was based around a series of semi-structured interviews with members of the wrestling community – wrestlers, promoters, trainers, referees and medics.
Since then we have presented numerous talks and written reflections on our findings. We also collaborate with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Professional Wrestling to make British wrestling safer and more inclusive.
Images on this website are courtesy of Rob Brazier, Troy Grant and Wrestling Resurgence.