The Bay Roberts grap­pler

Bran­don Hynes mak­ing name in­side the squared cir­cle

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Burst­ing through the cur­tain at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts, Bran­don Hynes is head­ing to work.

Orig­i­nally from Cam­bridge, Ont., and billed as ‘Bull­dog’ and wrestling in the main event of Leg­end City Wrestling’s an­nual Klondye Days card, Hynes is slated to square off with Mr. Fan­tas­tic.

Hynes’ moved to Bay Roberts in 2010, but he has fam­ily from Spa­niard’s Bay and spent many sum­mers in the re­gion.

He shows no emo­tion as he makes his way to­wards the ring in the mid­dle of the gym and greeted by a chorus of boos from the some 100 fans in­side the swel­ter­ing gym­na­sium.

Tonight, the third day of the tour, Hynes is slated to play, in wrestling terms, the heel char­ac­ter. To the out­side world, he is the bad guy. He is des­tined for un­der­hand­ed­ness and dirty tac­tics.

Mr. Fan­tas­tic is the epit­ome of the good guy, or baby­face, for LCW. He wears a mask that thrills chil­dren, is their heavy­weight cham­pion, his bi­ceps bulge and he dances in the ring at the end of his matches.

In the moments lead­ing up to the first lockup be­tween the men, cracks start to show in Hynes’ visage. When the vil­lain, you’re ex­pected to be de­ceit­ful and dis­like the fans.

But at cer­tain points of the match, Hynes is do­ing some­thing heels do not do, un­less hurt­ing an op­po­nent.

Hynes is smil­ing.

“It is hard to go full heel when I know fam­ily is in the au­di­ence,” he said moments af­ter the show’s con­clu­sion.

It is not an over­pow­er­ing smile, just a sim­ple grin and he is shar­ing it with fam­ily.

Liv­ing in Bay Roberts, Hynes has half-a-dozen fam­ily mem­bers. One of those is Jaime Kel loway of Bay Roberts.

“It’s a big laugh,” said Kel­loway. “We joke about it at home.”

Dou­ble bill

On this evening, Hynes is per­form­ing twice. First in the bout with Fan­tas­tic, fol­lowed by a tag match in the main event.

It is a gru­el­ing match fea­tur­ing big moves and changes in mo­men­tum. It is Hynes’ 12th match in three days. “It’s tough,” he said. Pro­fes­sional wrestling has the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing fake. In a way it is. The sto­ries are scripted and the ath­letes play char­ac­ters dif­fer­ent from who they are in real life.

What is not fake, how­ever, is the pun­ish­ment they in­flict on their bod­ies ev­ery night.

“All that is out there is wood and metal, so it takes its toll,” said Hynes.

Hynes, 22, has been a pro­fes­sional for five years, and started wrestling while still liv­ing in Cam­bridge. Tak­ing a cou­ple of classes at a lo­cal gym, the wrestling bug never re­ally caught on un­til a friend of Hynes’ mother in­vited him to a show.

“That’s when I got hooked,” he said.

Hynes started with the Pure Wrestling As­so­ci­a­tion in Cam­bridge. He wres­tled his first match on July 21, 2009 in Kitch­ener, Ont., against an op­po­nent named War­head. He did not win the match, but it got his foot in the door.

“It was pretty cool. It was a small crowd, but it was a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Hynes.

Per­form­ing to the crowd

Pro­fes­sional wrestling, at its core, is one part well-or­ches­trated per­for­mance and one part ath­letic show­case. Wrestlers work with each other on some of the finer points of the match, but leave the mid­dle parts up to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

The re­ac­tion of the crowd may shift a match in a cer­tain di­rec­tion, while im­pro­vi­sa­tion does the rest.

“It is the crowd in­ter­ac­tion for me,” said Hynes, when asked what he en­joys about the pro­fes­sion.

Four years of high school drama helps with that.

Ev­ery night he puts on the tights and laces up his boots, Hynes is liv­ing out a dream he’s had since he was younger.

“Mak­ing peo­ple happy is what I like to do,” he said.

How does his fam­ily feel about

Hynes get­ting thrown around the ring? “I lov­ing see­ing him get thrown around,” said Jamie with a laugh.

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Bay Roberts pro­fes­sional wrestler Bran­don Hynes (cen­tre) watches the ac­tion un­fold in front of him from the apron.

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