For the past year I have been working with an amazing group of athletes who also consider themselves storytellers. When I first heard these men and women refer to wrestling not only as a sport but storytelling in the ring I knew there was something special happening here. Something that most people were failing to notice due to the stereotypes connected with professional wrestling. Attended my first match I had my doubts of what I might experience. Click the photo above, or here to enter the gallery.
I had grown watching WWF wrestling, following my favorite wrestlers, practicing moves I saw on TV with my younger brother and random neighborhood kids. Often times hurting each other, not quite understanding it was fake at a younger tender age.
What I quickly learned walking into a small garage in Hayward, California, one evening was that these athletes cared about their sport passionately. The all practiced it like an art form, with one goal in mind, to entertain their audience at any cost. Sometimes this meant physical pain, and long term wound recovery, if something hadn’t been executed properly. These men and woman were dedicated to their characters. They were dedicated to their fans, dedicated to telling a story in the ring. One thing was for certain they all shared one common, yet passionate goal, to tell their story in the most believable way that even though the die hard fans in the crowd new this was fake, for one split second they might believe that the last punch, slap or body slam onto a folding chair was real.
I immediately connected with these people as a storyteller, as a parent, a friend, and athlete. These dedicated people risk their health, dedicate their time, work hard for little; usually no money, to do what they love., wrestling. Some have gone on to become famous with WWE contracts. But the rest continue to work their full time jobs at grocery stores, as bankers, teachers, or stay at home parents, bringing their family with them as they travel the wrestling circuits with a hope to get noticed and make it big.
This slide show represents a working edit of images that attempts to visually explore the indy wrestling subculture from the perspective of one wrestling school in Hayward, California, APW- All Pro Wrestling. Founded by the legendary Roland Alexander in 1991, school and wrestling club became a hot bed for indy wrestlers looking to learn the art and excel in the industry. Unfortunately, Roland Alexander recently passed away unexpectedly. The future of the legendary APW school and club is now in a limbo.
More to come in the next post.