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The British Wrestler

Getting to know the stars of Insane Championship Wrestling.
October 22, 2012, 1:47pm

A self-proclaimed ex-Ned who was ashamed of his love for wrestling until he was put into a coma for two days after a dispute with some other kids in his area. This was the turning point he needed and he has since channelled his efforts into wrestling. I have witnessed him successfully chat up groups of girls in single sittings. He is a machine.

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When I lived in Plymouth some time ago, I remember reading in the local paper about a kid who wanted to be a wrestler. The image of this starry-eyed youngster from Devon posing in his homemade costume, dreaming about WWF, had a profound Hollywood resonance that stuck with me, and 12 years later I googled “UK wrestling”. I was astonished by what I found: guys and girls from all walks of life donning lycra singlets or costumes, throwing themselves around wrestling rings in places as varied as holiday camps, community centres, nightclubs and village fêtes. When we were researching our VICE documentary The British Wrestler, we met bankers, McDonald’s workers, teaching assistants, firemen, insurance brokers and driving instructors. Each had their own wrestling character that related to their own personalities to varying degrees. To promote their shows and characters they filmed dramatised scenes on their phones and uploaded them to YouTube where they got at best 200 hits. It was both depressing and charming, and we had to find out more. We ended up landing on Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) in Glasgow for two reasons. Firstly, they allowed us to film them getting wasted on a birthday pub crawl (wearing full wrestling gear), and secondly, their characters are all amazing – from the Glaswegian borderline-alcoholic Neds, The Bucky Boys, to the STIs (that’s Superior Talent Initiative, obviously). But most of all, their wrestling events were just great fun to be at. This is a shoot we did with some of the characters from ICW. It’s a glimpse into the anarchic Glasgow wrestling scene and the very normal, lovely people who make it all happen.


Photographer’s assistant: Jamie Shaw Special thanks to Mark Dallas

Watch The British Wrestler here.

A full-time gigging wrestler, Mikey dresses as a transvestite in the ring, which creates a hysterical divide at ICW matches between the goth girls, who want to fuck him, and the Neds, who want to fuck him up. A gentle giant outside the ring, a mesmerising ghoul inside it.

Barry runs a pub in Glasgow’s East End with his dad. He is engaged to another wrestler called Lambrini and was once the unfortunate recipient of an onstage teabagging. The crowd loved it so much that they would bring teabags to the event to throw at him.

“I’m the big pirate guy. I go to the gym to get bigger and so do my earrings,” says Lee. I’m not sure whether he has been wrestling so much – over 360 shows a year – that his personality and persona have become one, or if he has always been a wrestling pirate, but I have seen Jack Jester in and out of the ring, and the eye and bandana are always present. A true veteran of the sport.

In character and reality, Grado is the ultimate wrestling fanboy who tried his best to get into ICW. He got drunk in Magaluf and had “Grado” tattooed on his arm and has been called it ever since. In the film we follow him in the build-up to the biggest night of his life, a title shot at ICW.

Neil became a YouTube sensation with his Glasgow-centric Ned rap videos, heavily referencing Buckfast Tonic Wine, the junkies’ tipple and the basis for The Bucky Boys’ characters. Ironically, his full-time job is visiting schools in Scotland and warning pupils on the dangers of mixing drink and drugs. He’s also a stand-up comedian and has more YouTube hits than Jackass’s Wee Man.

Watch our film The British Wrestler and see these characters in action, right now.