Heafford, 36, is one of the performers at EVE, an all-female
wrestling show that takes place once or twice a month in
London's Bethnal Green. The event features costumed combatants
taking part in carefully choreographed contests.
While female wrestlers have long featured on the professional
circuit in the U.S., their amateur British counterparts have
faced challenges before climbing into the ring.
"We had numerous venues cancelling us when they realized that
the professional wrestling was featuring woman, because they
thought that was the equivalent of porn," Dann Read, who along
with wife Emily organizes EVE, told Reuters.
Their cause has been helped in recent months by the advent of
U.S. streaming giant Netflix's program "Glow", a 1980s-set drama
chronicling the lives of aspiring female TV wrestlers.
Heafford agrees that the program has helped to broaden British
female wrestling's appeal.
"I've got friends who have been watching "Glow", have read the
Time Out article, and now are like, 'oh this is kind of cool
what you are doing - I want to come down and watch'," she said.
During the performance, held before a 200-strong, mixed gender
crowd in a venue beneath the archway of an elevated railway
track, the atmosphere evokes a concert or a party.
There is music and audience participation along with
back-stories of rivalries between the wrestlers, to spice up the
action in the ring.
Though staged, the fights see wrestlers put on displays of
highly-coordinated athleticism - bouncing off ring ropes and
jumping off corner posts to slam their opponents to the mat, and
flipping and twisting into elaborate holds.
"It is an absolutely fabulous thing to have here, and women’s
wrestling is only opening up, there's just no stopping," an
audience member who gave her name only as Ellen told Reuters.
(Reporting by Pedro Caiado da Cunha; writing by Mark Hanrahan in
London; Editing by Toby Davis)
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