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19 May, 2009 08:09

Wrestling: not proud job in Russia

It may be pure entertainment in the US, but some in Russia take it very seriously. Here professional wrestlers don’t make as much money as their American idols, but look like they love their job enough to kill for it.

It’s a big boys game and a multibillion dollar industry. But if you think you’ve seen it all on wrestling shows, think again – because you haven’t seen it Russian style: try traveling to Kapotnya, Moscow’s most forsaken industrial neighborhood, and try finding a local culture center – a former Soviet pioneers club.

Here Russia’s wrestling stars are born and taken down.

The action is fake, but the passion is real. While the Americans like to bleed for their buck, the guys at the Moscow club run on sheer will and teenage screams.

“Of course it's painful,” says Volcano, wrestler of the NFR (Nezavisimaya Federatsia Restlinga – Independent Federation of Wrestling). “It looks like a show if you’re watching it from a comfortable chair. Try going in the ring yourself!”

But how much do they really get paid for their black and blues?

“We better not talk about it, it's our painful subject,” confessed Rayv, an NFR wrestler.

“It’s not a lot, and not enough to cover medical bills. In Russia, If you tell someone you wrestle, people point fingers at us and laugh at us. It’s not a proud job”.

But the Russian wrestlers still look up to American showbiz wishing their own country, too, would embrace it as mainstream.

“I’ll keep on fighting as long as I’m healthy!” says NRF wrestler Kasanova.

Maybe the heroes in the tiny underground world can be called professionals one day.