Joe Hendry will bring pizzazz of pro wrestling to Gold Coast

Joe Hendry says his brash style will either raise the profile of amateur wrestling or ruin its credibility. Picture: Jeff Holmes
Joe Hendry says his brash style will either raise the profile of amateur wrestling or ruin its credibility. Picture: Jeff Holmes
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Joe Hendry has made quite an entrance into the world of amateur wrestling. But that is hardly surprising given his huge personality and equally-big dreams and the years spent embracing the razzmatazz of the professional side of the sport.

A pro wrestler since 2013, he only experimented with the less theatrical arm of things thanks to Glasgow 2014. That was when he decided he wanted a slice of the action and the BBC then gave him the push needed to chase the dream of breaking into Team Scotland and booked a seat on the plane to Gold Coast.

“It has been an interesting journey. I am a pro wrestler, that’s what I do as my job. I started in 2013 after I reached a point in my life, in my mid 20s, when I hadn’t really achieved what I had set out to do and thought I might as well really disappoint my parents! So, I started wrestling and took to it really quickly and got a WWE trial in my first year, working with Glasgow-based Insane Championship Wrestling and built up a name for myself.

“The BBC were doing a documentary at the time, on some of the stars, and one of the stories they were keen to explore was what would happen if a pro wrestler tried amateur wrestling and I said ‘I’ll do it!’ I had a judo black belt from when I was younger so I had a bit of a base but I started this sport when I was 26 years old.

“It was after the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I had actually gone to the opening ceremony in Glasgow and at that moment thought ‘you know what, I want to do that’ I didn’t know at what sport but I 
wanted to be there.”

Swapping the ring for the mat, he adapted well, surprising even himself.

“Pro wrestling is a full-time thing and combining that with the amateur wrestling has been hard. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it but in November I won the British Championship, which, starting a sport at 26, was a big ask.

“I don’t cry too often but that brought a tear to my eye, when I told my parents what I had done and I found out I was [going to Gold Coast]. It is still hard not to get emotional about it. It is one of the greatest honours you can have, to represent your country, and I feel very privileged to be part of a team of so many talented athletes. It is a great feeling.”

Emerging on to the amateur scene, there was a snobbery, with some viewing the professional scene as little more than pantomime, but he has shrugged that aside. He respects the differences in the sport but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t happily inject some pizzazz into his Commonwealth experience.

With a background in music, playing several instruments and formerly being signed on the Sony Music label, the 29-year-old, who also has a Masters in Business and Marketing from Heriot-Watt University, assumed the Local Hero moniker but now performs under The Prestigious One nom de plume and entrances are his thing. “Basically, I do musical parodies to make fun of my opponents. I’m sure you have all heard of Wrecking Ball but I did Hendry Ball. I rolled to the ring in a zorb! So, I am either going to raise the profile of amateur wrestling or ruin all credibility. I’m all in at this point!

“If they let me, I guarantee it will be the best entrance of all time. I will be descending from the roof, with ten drones attached to my arms! But the most important thing is to push the sport of wrestling. I have so much respect for the athletes who have been doing it their whole lives.

“Of course some look down their nose at me. But pro wrestling is a shark tank so I am used to it. I wasn’t interested if people like it or not.”

Despite the theatre of the pro game, he fights any dilution of it as a sport but faced with the suggestion that is far from competitive, with winners and losers predetermined and the battle carefully choreographed, he is cagey.

“Put it this way, if you were to ask a magician the secrets of the Magic Circle, would you expect him to tell you? Hell no! It is 100 per cent legit but in a different way.

“To be honest it is a helluva lot more of a sport than some things. I take it really seriously but it is like any genre of entertainment, you can get anything from the bizarre to the ultra serious. The thing about pro wrestling is that we are not actors. But you have to have character, so I am me but with the volume turned up – way up! The Prestigious One incorporates more of the sporting element. Pro wrestling and amateur wrestling, it is not that one is better than the other, they are just 
different.”

Still fairly new to the discipline he will contest in Gold Coast, he says he is a bit left field with his techniques but every trip to the mat is another step in the learning process.

“There is nothing like going out on a mat and competing. It is quite a primal thing. It is a different sense of achievement. It is a different kind of nerves. I like it because it is like being on a rollercoaster.

“Anyone who tells you they are not terrified when they compete in a combat sport, they’re lying. It is one of the most empowering things. I feel this nervous energy but if you embrace it and enjoy it, that’s great.

“The fear becomes excitement and you want that feeling again and again. It goes from not wanting to lose to thinking you are going out there to prove your skills. That is the mindset I go in with.”