I SWAPPED BEAUTY PAGEANTS TO TAKE UP WRESTLING

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - PHILIP DEWEY Re­porter philip.dewey@waleson­line.co.uk

WEAR­ING a pur­ple jump­suit, with curlers in her hair, im­mac­u­late make-up, per­fectly man­i­cured nails and a whole lot of sass, Na­dia Sap­phire is not your typ­i­cal wrestler.

The 27-year-old, from Cardiff, has been on the Welsh wrestling scene for al­most a decade and, with her “bad-guy” per­sona, au­di­ences just can’t get enough of her.

But Na­dia wants to use her po­si­tion to pro­mote a se­ri­ous mes­sage of body pos­i­tiv­ity and to en­cour­age peo­ple to fol­low their dreams – no mat­ter what their shape or size.

She turned to wrestling af­ter tak­ing part in a few beauty pageants.

Pro­mo­tions man­ager Na­dia, whose main wrestling moves in­clude her Ger­man su­plex pin and a north­ern lights su­plex, said she wanted to en­cour­age peo­ple to love their own bod­ies and not to con­form to how so­ci­ety thinks they should look.

She said: “When I was younger, from like the age of 16, and when I was wrestling, I also started do­ing a few beauty pageants. I got a lot more press for do­ing that, and when it was put on the web­site peo­ple would say things like ‘that girl has had too many Mars bars’.

“I was a 16-year-old girl, you’re feel­ing down at that time and I was big­ger than I am now and there would al­ways be some­one slag­ging me off about my weight and that was re­ally hard for a young girl.

“As I got older I be­came hap­pier with who I was. I started dat­ing and I found peo­ple that liked me for me and men liked my curves.”

The for­mer Cardiff High School pupil, from Lake­side, be­gan her love af­fair with wrestling as a child while watch­ing her favourite stars in­clud­ing Lita and Tr­ish Sta­tus per­form­ing with WWE.

But it was at the age of 14 when her dreams of be­com­ing a wrestler were set in mo­tion, af­ter she trawled the in­ter­net and found a wrestling school in Cathays.

Na­dia said: “I started to learn the ba­sics, like how to bump, run­ning the ropes, lit­tle things like that and how to do things safely, drills, tim­ing and ev­ery­thing like that.

“I even­tu­ally found an­other train­ing school in Swindon when I was 15. I used to get the train to Swindon. I was quite in­de­pen­dent and I would use all my pocket money to go down there.”

At the age of 16 Na­dia be­gan tak­ing part in wrestling bouts and com­peted reg­u­larly up un­til the age of 18, when she suf­fered a ma­jor in­jury while per­form­ing.

She said: “I suf­fered quite a bad in­jury in my knee dur­ing a show. It took me out for two years and af­ter that I went away from it for a bit as I had other in­ter­ests. I re­turned when I was 22.

“I just thought I would get back to train­ing and started to do shows from there again, re­ally.”

Na­dia now com­petes all over the UK and Europe, and reg­u­larly per­forms at Coy­ote Ugly in Cardiff city cen­tre on a monthly ba­sis.

De­scrib­ing her on-stage per­sona, she said: “My char­ac­ter is flam­boy­ant, over the top and very con­fi­dent, sassy and doesn’t like be­ing told what to do. She’s quite spoilt, she thinks of her­self as a princess and she thinks she’s more spe­cial than ev­ery­one else.

“I think it was an over-the-top ver­sion of me. When I was in train­ing the boys would laugh be­cause I was a girly girl and I was check­ing on my nails. I loved make-up and tan and stuff like that.

“I play a bad char­ac­ter so I like the fact I can come across as a bad char­ac­ter on stage. It’s hard for some peo­ple to get a re­ac­tion out of the au­di­ence but I al­ways seem to be able to get a re­ac­tion. It’s eas­ier to be the bad guy and I en­joy it.

“There’s quite a few women wrestlers and quite a few dif­fer­ent pro­mo­tions in Wales. Over the past two years women’s wrestling has evolved and has pushed for­ward so much even on the big screen. It’s not just a boys’ sport any more.”

Speak­ing about why she loves wrestling so much, Na­dia said: “I love vis­it­ing new places in the UK where I might never have been, and I have been to coun­tries such as Switzer­land and Ger­many, which are such beau­ti­ful coun­tries, and ob­vi­ously there’s the en­joy­ment fac­tor of it.

“It can be quite bitchy and it can be quite cliquey, but other than that it’s fine. The other con can be my age, be­cause I have just turned 27 and I am ques­tion­ing my­self, think­ing am I too old and can I carry on for the next so and so years?”

Na­dia’s next wrestling match takes place at Coy­ote Ugly in Cardiff on Septem­ber 24.

NA­DIA SAP­PHIRE

Wrestler Na­dia Sap­phire in ac­tion

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