Eleven years ago, I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional wrestler like my boyhood hero Hulk Hogan.
However unlike Hulk and the other global wrestling superstars of the 1980s and 1990s, I'm just 5'4". I'm 10 stone when my wallet is full. NO CHANCE you are saying?
Well, that what everybody told me! There were no exceptions. Parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues, strangers, their friends, everybody! "NO CHANCE" they'd say... or just point, laugh and tell me how ridiculous it sounded!
Yet here I am, 11 years later with my dream staring me right in the face. That dream is to bag a contract with TNA Impact Wrestling in America. The company that was founded in 2002 and has gone from strength to strength ever since and boasts stars such as Hulk Hogan, Sting, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, AJ Styles and countless others who I watched as I grew up in the business learning, dreaming and wanting to be where they were.
I'm not there yet. Currently I wrestle on the British 'independents', the reality of which is very different to the glitz and glamour that TNA fans witness on Challenge TV every week.
As an 'indie' wrestler, you drive multiple miles in vehicles with as many of you crammed together as possible, bags on top of each of you, some asleep, some staying awake all evening to keep the drivers eyes on the road, some texting their girlfriend, some just happy to be there to listen and learn. All dreaming of making it in the big leagues.
You arrive, have your match and the promoter gives you the wage you have agreed, however little that may be. Some don't get paid at all. Then it's back in the car to get everybody home and by the time your head hits the pillow it's the next morning already.
This isn't a full-time living, by day this is not what I do.
Brace yourself... I work in a bank in Birmingham. It drives me insane. Not the job, just NOT being able to perform. I have sat sheltered and 'conformed' to the 9am-5pm, sitting there day after day dreaming about nothing but professional wrestling since I first started in the trade at 16.
Sometimes people make comments about what I do as if I'm somewhat 'different' to the real 'lads' out there who go the pub to chat about the football and their latest sexual conquest. You see, instead of the pub, I'm in the gym. Instead of football, I'm watching and talking about wrestling. Instead of sex? A gentlemen never tells... but I'm no gentlemen, so that is for another blog ;)
But this is partly the reason my father didn't really accept what I did. It was a very tough thing to explain to a man, who sees the above as the norm for a young 'lad'.
Then one warm Wednesday August evening - yes, they occasionally do happen in England - my life changed. I was leaving the bank for the day, looking forward to wrestling in front of 200 people on the Friday in Wolverhampton.
On leaving the gym, I had a call waiting from TNA's UK representative Simon Rothstein about a new show the company were producing called British Boot Camp. Two months later I was at TNA Bound Of Glory in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the biggest events in the wrestling calendar with thousands in attendance, being introduced as a competitor in the series and a possible future international star.
The show starts on Challenge TV on 1 January, pitting myself against Marty Scurll and The Blossom Twins in numerous situations to show which one of us has ALL the tools it takes to be a TNA superstar. The winner, you ask? They will receive a contract with TNA Impact Wrestling, live in the United States and potentially go on to be a huge star representing the United Kingdom.
Since September we have had cameras in our faces everywhere we turn - not the greatest of things first thing in the morning, I can tell you - been staying in some of the world's most glorious hotels and been chauffeur driven to locations I could only have dreamed of. Simon now brings me chocolate and has to pretend to like my singing.
We've been flown to the United States of America and treated like we were one of their own. Best of all, we've met, spoken and shared the company of our wrestling heroes - including Hulk! People we have dreamed of meeting our whole life, who are now talking to us like I am their equal.
Recent events have seen us interviewed by many of the UK's leading newspapers, radio stations and websites. We have been on location at the Sky/Challenge TV studios being treated like celebrities. We were given VIP tickets to see Rock Of Ages in London's West End and got to hang out with the cast afterwards. It's a show I'd highly recommend, I was in my element and I seriously have not had a better time in my entire life.
So life, for now, has indeed changed.
Remember I told you 11 years ago I made the decision I wanted to be a professional wrestler? Now I've got one foot in the door. Tune in to Challenge TV on Tuesday January 1 at 10pm and watch TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp to see if the other foot comes with me.
For more information on TNA Impact Wrestling and British Boot Camp go to www.facebook.com/tnawrestlinguk
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