British professional wrestling should be classified as a sport, All-Party Parliamentary Group finds

By Daniel RazaBBC Sport
A parliamentary group has found that wrestling should be classified as a sport
A parliamentary group has found that wrestling should be classified as a sport

British professional wrestling should be classified as sport within training schools, a report by an All-Party Parliamentary Group has found.

The inquiry, led by a group of MPs from various political parties, recommends that wrestling training schools be considered as "sporting" but shows and promotions be considered "theatrical", "artistic" or "performative".

It also urged the Arts Council and Sport England to do the same.

Classifying professional wrestling as both a sport and entertainment will help to increase health and safety as well safeguarding in the discipline, the MPs said.

The inquiry found health and safety standards across wrestling in Britain are "worryingly low" and looked to seek clarity in designating the discipline, often referred to as 'sports entertainment'.

Professional wrestling in Britain currently operates as an entertainment industry run by various fight promoters, inspired by the glamour and theatrics of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the United States.

Last summer, BBC Sport spoke to the #SpeakingOut movement, British wrestling's #MeToo moment, where widespread allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct emerged and highlighted the lack of regulation and safeguarding in the industry.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group was later established and sought to look into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as "reviewing the current laws and regulations governing the industry" and to make recommendations and suggest measures to support British wrestling.

The co-chairs of the group, Alex Davies MP and Mark Fletcher MP, said in a statement: "We are delighted to take what we hope will be a first step towards strengthening and improving the British wrestling industry which brings joy to so many people, ourselves included. We look forward putting our recommendations into action in the coming weeks."

In 2020, Tracey Crouch MP, then Sports Minister, introduced a Private Members Bill that would amend the Sexual Offences Act 2003 "to make sports coach a position of trust for the purpose of child sex offences".

With reference to this, the inquiry recommends that wrestling coaches be "explicitly recognised as being in such positions of trust".

The report also addressed the difficulties professional wrestling has had falling between sports and entertainment.

It found "the absence of any proper governance and oversight" created "serious implications for the mental and physical health, safety and wellbeing of performers and others".

Among other health and safety measures, it recommended "all promoters, trainers and referees be physical and mental health first-aid qualified and trained in concussion awareness and protocols".

It also recognised the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has caused has been "devastating" and that there was "significant confusion among wrestling promotions about which guidance to follow".

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