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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. This collaborative, interdisciplinary project tackles this by 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. Since then we have presented numerous talks on our findings and collaborated with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Professional Wrestling (thanks to follow on funding from Loughborough University) to make British wrestling safer and more inclusive.

This project is funded by the British Academy. Images are courtesy of Rob Brazier and Wrestling Resurgence.