Female wrestling coaches 'should be regulated'

By John Fernandez
BBC Scotland


Scottish wrestling promoters are calling for coaches to be regulated following a series of allegations of sexual abuse within the industry.

Professional wrestling is self-regulated, which means anyone can set up their own training school, or promotion and put on shows.

The #SpeakingOut campaign has led to a number of female wrestlers reporting abuse and misogyny in the industry.

Some promoters have introduced their own safeguarding policies.

Glasgow-based wrestling promoters Fierce Females have taken action to ensure that anyone working with them is safe to do so.

Image caption,
Brooke Badgley said she was shocked by the issues revealed in professional wrestling

Brooke Badgley, who runs the company, said she was shocked by the issues revealed within professional wrestling.

She said: "There were a lot of things that I didn't even know, but every time you find out a story you find out there's 10 times more behind it - inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, drugs at shows".

Fierce Females has introduced a full safeguarding policy, which covers how the club works with its younger trainees, and how it operates when it books performers for shows.

'It was 100% grooming'

Image source, Getty Images

Lucy, not her real name, started at a professional wrestling training school in Scotland four years ago when she was 15, after being a fan of the sport for years.

She went along to her first session but was immediately made to feel uncomfortable.

"They all stood in a group and asked who would you rather, the blonde or the Russian?," she said. "It was that kind of old boys club mentality that I knew I was getting into and from then I felt a little bit uncomfortable with it."

Lucy didn't return to the school for the next session, which led to the main coach messaging her on social media asking her to come back. When she turned 16, the messages he sent took on a sexual nature.

"I really was a child back then. I think I was scared to say anything about it as well," she said. "I kind of just thought he's an older man, he has a lot of power and I really like wrestling and I don't want people to fall out with me.

"It was 100% grooming and I don't think it's just me he's done it to."

Fierce Females first safeguarding officer, Sammie-Jo, said: "Any adults who come through the Fierce Females School are now required to be PVG checked.

"To make this place as safe as possible we have information-sharing between other schools, so if there is a trainee who is involved, who may be there for the wrong reasons, that is cascaded to other schools."

The company is keen to see a system of regulation that will lead to greater accountability in the sport.

Image caption,
Fierce females have introduced a safeguarding policy

Insane Championship Wrestling, one of Scotland's biggest professional wrestling promoters, said it had changed the way it worked following the #SpeakingOut movement.

A spokesman said: "We've created an official code of conduct, a dignity at work policy, employed a welfare officer and are now carrying out personnel checks on all performers and crew."

'Zero tolerance'

A spokesman for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) said: "Individuals are responsible for their own personal actions.

"WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Upon arrest for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately suspended. Upon conviction for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately terminated.

"WWE's ability to fine, suspend or terminate a WWE talent will not be, however, limited or compromised in any manner in the event incontrovertible evidence of such illegal misconduct is presented to WWE."

Police Scotland confirmed it was investigating "a number of online allegations relating to abuse in wrestling" but said inquiries were at an early stage.