(Calcutta Tube) We’ve seen them on television screens, jousting with opponents, holding them in a vice like grip, writhing on the floor and breaking bones. Outside the ring, however, Total Nonstop Action’s (TNA) star wrestlers love their peace and even their fat-laced butter and tandoori chicken.
Three TNA wrestlers, Kurt Angle, Jay Lethal and Mick Foley, are on a six-day India tour, taking in the famed Indian hospitality and promoting the hunt for TNA’s Indian wrestling star. The trio, who have been to Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad before coming to Chandigarh, give a glimpse of what their lives are like outside the ring.
‘When we are inside the wrestling ring, our job is to engross people and to entertain them. We have to showcase extreme anger and use various tactics for this. At times some fights get really violent, resulting in fractures or even permanent injuries some times,’ TNA’s leading wrestler Kurt Angle told IANS.
‘But once we are outside the ring, we are normal human beings spending time with family and friends,’ pointed out Angle, 40, who won the Olympic gold medal in wrestling for the US in 1996.
He’s overwhelmed by Indian hospitality.
‘It’s simply amazing. I had never seen such a warm reception as the one we got at the Mumbai airport.’
As for Indian food, it’s so good that he’s even given up his diet.
‘These days I have also altered my diet chart and have started eating a lot of Indian spicy food and I am really enjoying tandoori chicken.’
His colleagues Foley and Lethal, amongst the 35 wrestlers with the US-based wrestling promotion company, agree.
‘This is my first visit to India and I have discovered that Indians are very passionate and full of energy. I liked their food very much, especially the butter chicken,’ Lethal, TNA’s youngest wrestler, added enthusiastically.
‘In fact, after coming here, I have also started listening to Indian music and watching cricket… unfortunately this game is not that popular in the US. Though I don’t know the name of even a single cricketer, I have started liking this game very much.’
Lethal, 24, who became a professional wrestler whe he was only 16, said: ‘Players are alike in both countries, with strong physique and stamina but the style of playing is difference. In the US, we have different rules and the main idea is to entertain the spectators at any cost.’
The veteran in the group is 45-year-old Foley, who is known for breaking many bones over the years. He has received over 300 stitches and even lost a ear and two teeth during death-defying falls and brutal fights during the years.
Foley advises youngsters to not copy wrestling stunts outside the ring.
‘One has to be very alert and cautious while in the ring as sometimes only a single hit can end your career forever. That is why a professional training and a stiff regime are very essential in this sport,’ Foley told IANS.
‘But we always try not to harm the opponent player and not to make him permanently disabled. Moreover we have medical help and other experts available to take care if there is any trouble. I advise youngsters to not to imitate the stunts outside the ring as it could even be life-threatening,’ he stated.
It’s not all about the fight, however. Foley takes part in comedy shows and various charity and literary activities that have also helped redefine the public image of a professional wrestlers.
And, he’s an author too.
Three books written by him were among New York’s best-sellers.
‘I am also ready with my fourth book, ‘Countdown to Lockdown’, which will be released in October 2010. This book describes the circumstances that made me sign up with TNA as well as my first few months with the company,’ said Foley.
Soon, Indian wrestlers too could be part of the TNA fraternity. As part of the wrestler hunt programme, TNA has invited entries from all over the country. Twenty people will be shortlisted and one chosen.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)