Aspire Wrestling Alliance: a brief history of was founded in 2016. We opened the doors in April 2016. We were set up by myself and Mark. Together we had always been wrestling fans. I had some serious mental health issues which led to a suicide attempt. Mark stopped me from following through with that and from that day forward, vowed to build something to help others struggling.
From Day One we always wanted to run something which had Wrestling as close to our heart. We both understood how much wrestling itself helps people. Besides being amazing and fun, we wanted more on top. After all in my late 40s at the time, I was never going in the ring.
We then spent months preparing a building ready for opening. With a ring and a café and rooms to hire out to the community, there were important mental health support sessions booked. A great deal of my time was spent sitting in Council Chambers, the offices of Derby Homes, and n Neighbourhood Boards and Young People’s Boards. I was also in meetings with the Police and others were telling them what wrestling can do for young people. We discussed how it increases physical fitness and helps so much with mental health. It creates a sense of belonging.
Aspire Wrestling Alliance
By doing something you are fiercely passionate about and how you have to work to protect each other’s bodies. As opposed to hurting others and how you work to make the winner look good is so unselfish. In doing so we were extolling the virtues to enable the support to flow. It was weird sitting in these highly officious meetings. Outcomes the random wrestler name generator app and these senior figures in Derby would lose all interest in the discussion. We would share names given and start cutting promos on each other!
After we opened, we continued down this theme Children In Need liked what they heard. They agreed to fund us to help us to reach a greater number of vulnerable children. Kayfabe could sadly it could not be kept to in these situations. It was all about the real-life benefits wrestling brings to so many and as a life long wrestling fan. Like so many of us, accustomed to people sneering at the fake fighting of people in trunks. It is incredible to witness so many listen and understand and agree to how Wrestling can help and how many people then spread the word.
Fast forward to where we are or were prior to COVID-19 and we work on a project funded by Derbyshire Police that sees us delivering emotional wellbeing sessions in primary schools for up to 1000 children a month, our wrestlers go in often in their gear in as appropriate a manner as is needed and teach the sessions and have become heroes to these children, raising awareness on a locally massive scale of wrestling, it is building relationships with schools asking us to do shows there.
Aspire Wrestling Alliance: A Brief History Of
The Journey Continues
We get booked on nearly every outdoor event in the summer and at the biggest event in the City. They ask us to do a Royal Rumble which we use as a title match for The Right Road which is our school project. Last year the police trained with us and participated in the match!
We have schools come to Aspire during the daytime as they have put Wrestling onto their curriculum. Can you believe that? Imagine being at school, after Maths we pop to Aspire for the weekly Wrestling session kids!
The Wrestling itself, we started less than four years ago. We have already had over 500 try it out. Up until the enforced break we had close on 100 different people across all age groups at our training school. They were doing so on a weekly basis. Many football clubs would be proud to have those numbers.
How passionate is the fanbase?
Our shows often run at capacity and due to the number of quality performers coming through our training school. We have started to run additional academy shows at our training center to provide openings for the newer trainees. It would help them to become show-ready. Our original head trainer was well known UK Star ‘Stixx’. Also involved is an equally well known and established UK Star ‘Paul Malen’ who has been our head coach for nearly three years now. Both guys have wrestled on our shows, Paul is our current champion.
Our own trainees have now been branching out onto shows all over the UK. Fans are encouraged to watch out for names such as Roarke and Ronon and Joseph Cardinal. These names along with many more look to be coming out of the Aspire school. The intention is to ensure they are being booked with increasing frequency elsewhere.
Whilst we embrace all styles there is definitely a feeling of old school about our shows, good old fashioned storytelling often eliciting real emotion at shows, matches given time to unravel and tell their own stories and making everything matters doing it right, virtues of Paul Malen himself and really influencing the trainees positively.
Aspire Wrestling Alliance: A Brief History Of
More Than Simply Wrestling
We run food banks and toiletries banks, we help residents in the community with issues, we run bereavement counseling sessions and host community activity groups during the daytime and we also run community fun days throughout the year.
We sit on countless boards across both the City and the County discussing and often helping to steer policy on sport and also on young people – for a Wrestling organization to be granted such a level of credibility is incredibly refreshing.
We also get offers to partner up with other organizations to team up to add to what both they and us can deliver, we have formed partnerships with others to help run playschemes in the area and also to help deliver professional mentoring services helping the youngsters to put into submission issue they experience.
We win awards, yes Wrestling is recognized for awards in the non-kayfabe world! We’ve won local awards, voted for by members of the public for community impact and also been national runners up for best new UK Community Impact Awards which resulted in a House of Lords visit – Wrestling joined the Nationwide Community Hall of Fame!
We’ve been featured on BBC One twice and on BBC Radio on many occasions including live broadcasts from Aspire for the Breakfast show with live Wrestling on audio!
We love what we do and are very proud and have an incredible team of passionate people who have formed their own community at Aspire but at the hub of all of this is Wrestling, getting Wrestling firmly embedded into the mindset and culture of a City, open acceptance of what it is and what it can do, viewed and treated with respect and love, getting referrals from organizations 20 miles away working with children who have been through really tough times but who have heard that Wrestling may be able to help with these kids.
Being in a position where I am in constant meetings but often no longer have to sell what we do – others do it for us, being approached by organizations saying they’ve heard about the wrestling and how amazing it is can we link up with you guys, etc.
Then, of course, COVID-19 struck…
Instantly nearly all of the above stopped in addition to the Wrestling, so our income which is largely self-generated also came to a complete halt – we are very fortunate as due to our legal status and the links we’ve formed we are eligible for a number of schemes for funding although whilst we have reached out to all, nothing is guaranteed, competition is fiercer than a Jim Cornette rant on Orange Cassidy but we never ever lay down – it will take more than however many finisher attempts COVID tries to put on us to get the 3 count!
We are running a full-time food bank during the crisis. Aspire was appointed by the Derby Food Forum Central Response HUB which was commissioned by Derby City Council. This is to operate one of the city’s 10 Local Food Distribution Hubs, supporting two Neighbourhood Wards in Derby.
As well as working together with the NHS supporting vulnerable pregnant ladies, we’ve formed links over the years with several supermarkets. It has helped. We are also working with other community organizations to also help with the delivery of non-food essentials for those vulnerable. Additionally, we have been asked to help coordinate day to day monitoring of all emergencies. This has been on both wards ensuring that anything bad happening is dealt with and quickly.
Aspire Alliance Wrestling: A Brief History Of –
How Can You Help?
Anyone who wishes to get involved right now with supporting our efforts can do so. To help people with COVID-19 and hitting those spears and suplexes again please do get in touch on any of the following. Aspire Wrestling Alliance
If you wish to watch any of our home-grown stars in action here is the link.
Rob Shade (Founder and Managing Director of Aspire Wrestling Alliance Ltd)