Yes, on the surface, pro wrestling is exactly like what you see on television – people in colourful costumes trash-talking each other in the ring before opening a can of whoop@$$. But the reality is that a lot of physical work goes into pro wrestling, and in the ring, the pain is real.

“Trust me, you will never get used to the feeling of getting slammed in the ring,” said wrestling coach Ayez Shaukat Fonseka, 27, explaining that the wrestling ring is made of solid steel and wooden planks, with a one and a half inch-thick mat covering the base.

“It’s a very thin mat,” he said. “When you get slammed onto it, it knocks the wind out of you, your chest hurts, and if your opponent is not careful, you can be seriously injured.”

Of course, like any professional sport, practitioners do their best not to injure their opponents. The objective of pro wrestling is, first and foremost, to entertain, not maim. That’s why the wrestlers’ stories are scripted, matches pre-determined, and fighters pull their punches and kicks.

However, the art of NOT hurting somebody too badly is actually more difficult than it seems!

“Yes, the sounds of chops to the chest are real hits,” said Ayez. “But there are ‘safe areas’ on our bodies that can withstand great impact without sustaining long-term damage. It all comes down to a wrestlers’ mastery of techniques.”

And while it looks like fun and games, mastering the art of pro wrestling definitely doesn’t come easy.

Pro wrestling classes were launched at Harry Gym Warrior in 2014, kickstarting the burgeoning Malaysian pro wrestling scene.

Typical training sessions last up to four hours, covering strength and stamina conditioning, basic pro wrestling drills, techniques and ‘spots’ (a set of choreographed techniques).

There’s also speech training as well as acting classes to improve trainees’ showmanship, charisma and self-confidence.

And that’s just for beginners! Those who have leveled up to the bigger (read: international) leagues train up to six days a week.

Ayez himself trains five days a week, despite a long list of injuries including a dislocated knee and torn ligaments. The stuntman-turned-wrestling coach has had to schedule his training around rehabilitation, but refuses to give up his passion for pro wrestling.

“My knee is still not 100%, so I just have to train and work safely to ensure that it won’t dislocate again,” he said.

However, he was keen to emphasise that injuries are part and parcel of being a pro wrestler.

“You need to train around your injuries if you ever want to bounce back,” he said, showing the steel underneath his otherwise-affable exterior that has made him the professional he is today.

Ayez also had some words of advice for would-be pro wrestlers: “In this sport, there is no room for big egos. This is a form of performing arts, not a competitive sport. Both wrestlers need to work with each other to put on a good show, and tell the story they’re supposed to tell.”

To enquire about training and book tryouts, call or text Ayez at 011-1160 2590.

Pro wrestling is part of Unbeatable, a series where we highlight young Malaysian athletes practicing unconventional sports in conjunction with Hari Sukan Negara.

Check out some of the videos here.


Literature grad-turned-journalist who loves our R.AGE team karaoke nights a little too much. While her literature background has left her with a slightly twisted sense of humour, it has also given her a passion for writing on social issues.

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