When I lived in Plymouth some time ago, I remember reading in the local paper about a kid who wanted to be a wrestler. The image of this starry-eyed youngster from Devon posing in his homemade costume, dreaming about WWF, had a profound Hollywood resonance that stuck with me, and 12 years later I googled “UK wrestling”.
I was astonished by what I found: guys and girls from all walks of life donning lycra singlets or costumes, throwing themselves around wrestling rings in places as varied as holiday camps, community centres, nightclubs and village fêtes. When we were researching our VICE documentary The British Wrestler, we met bankers, McDonald’s workers, teaching assistants, firemen, insurance brokers and driving instructors. Each had their own wrestling character that related to their own personalities to varying degrees. To promote their shows and characters they filmed dramatised scenes on their phones and uploaded them to YouTube where they got at best 200 hits. It was both depressing and charming, and we had to find out more.
We ended up landing on Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) in Glasgow for two reasons. Firstly, they allowed us to film them getting wasted on a birthday pub crawl (wearing full wrestling gear), and secondly, their characters are all amazing – from the Glaswegian borderline-alcoholic Neds, The Bucky Boys, to the STIs (that’s Superior Talent Initiative, obviously). But most of all, their wrestling events were just great fun to be at.
This is a shoot we did with some of the characters from ICW. It’s a glimpse into the anarchic Glasgow wrestling scene and the very normal, lovely people who make it all happen.