Article Title:“I’m a lover AND a fighter”
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:3rd March 2007 - 12:00 pm
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Story ID:1617
Text:Ricky DeVinal's been busy lately, filming wrestling shows for Auckland's AltTV. It's about time fight-fans got more televisual coverage – Thai boxing matches and professional wrestling bouts have a huge following, especially out west of NZ's largest city. We couldn't think of many sports more risky to be ‘out and proud' in than wrestling… but then we found 22-year old‘cruiserweight' Ricky, who makes it all look easy. Exactly how he got going as a professional in the wrestling ring is a mystery to him, he says. “I've been training for about six or seven years now. I just remember turning up to this warehouse gym one day, this 16-year-old skinny little runt, and asking to be a Pro Wrestler like my heroes from TV. “Once the gym manager stopped laughing his ass off at me, we filled out some forms and well, the rest is history”. So what's it like to be an out gay wrestler – and are there any others he knows of? “As far as I know I'm the only gay in the Pacific Rim,” Ricky grins. He's quite open about his sexuality and admits that can have its ups and downs – but it's mostly ‘ups' these days. “A few of the wrestlers were quite iffy about it when I first came out and told them, they were probably all thinking I was trying to cop a free feel or something, which totally wasn't the case. For me it's about the sport first and foremost, not about ‘touching other men'. Why would I want to do that anyway? The other guy wants to kick my ass, not hold hands and kiss!” One nasty incident Ricky remembers was a few months ago during a ‘tag-team match'. “Some kid tried to punk me out about being gay and sconed me on the noodle with half a can of coke, so I cussed him and shoved him back in his chair. He tried to hop the barricade but the guy sitting next to him held him back till he'd calmed down. “I didn't find out until the next day, but him and two of his mates apparently waited for me in the parking lot for an hour after the show. Haven't seen him at any shows since though,” he explains. “Aside from that, I've been spat on once or twice, and of course you get the usual ‘Fag', ‘Homo' jeers and stuff like that”. Wrestling training bouts at ‘Impact Pro Wrestling' in Lynfield are held each week, and Ricky usually trains four days a week on his own to keep in tip-top form. “Mostly focusing on my back and upper body, and my side-job makes for great exercise too. As far as competing goes, usually it's once a month.” The young sportsman says he's single “and loving it”. Who's his ideal type of guy? “Well, they'd have to like pro wrestling – ‘like', not ‘tolerate'. And be an outgoing, chirpy sort of person. I love kicking back with friends or a DVD or whatever, so I guess it'd help if they liked that sort of thing too. Oh, and not too scene-queeny,” he adds. Asked if his sport was dangerous, Ricky responds with a snort: “Are you serious? Ha! That's like asking if the Pope is catholic! I've dislocated my right shoulder, had severely bruised spine, broken fingers, and more bruises and cuts than I can remember. It certainly isn't a 'gentle-touch' sport”. Ricky's wrestling influences include the late Eddie Gurrerro, ‘American Dragon' Brian Danielson and Brian Kendrick. “But I like to believe I'm my own hero. If you want to look up to other people and idolise them, that's cool - I'd rather look up to myself though – if that makes any sense.”     Matt Akersten - 3rd March 2007
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