Thirteen might be an unlucky number for some, but it’s a sign of success for a collective of guys who … well, what happens in fight club, stays in fight club.
Sunday 28 May 2023 marked the 13th anniversary of Wrestling for Fun – a collective that began as five gay and bi guys who met at Adelaide’s Hampshire Hotel (The Hampy) to discuss the possibility of getting physical with each other.
Each of them enjoyed wrestling just for the fun of it. They weren’t professionally trained, nor even remotely interested in the high-octane theatrics of ‘professional’ wrestling.
They just enjoyed the physicality of a grapple along with the camaraderie it brought and the hard workout it gave. It wasn’t about winning or losing. It was simply about giving it a go.
There are several websites that connect men who enjoy boxing, wrestling and other physical sports just for the fun of it. But these five South Australian guys were tired of connecting online with other guys who simply ghosted them in the end.
“It seems like there’s a lot of guys out there, straight, gay and bi, who love the fantasy of wrestling, but never actually meet anyone to give it a go,” says Rod, one of the founding five. “Whether they’re scared of getting hurt, or they’re just keyboard warriors, who knows? The point is that ghosting is never acceptable.”
From that frustration, these five guys, who had met at least one other person in the group, decided to meet and talk about the possibility of a regular wrestling meet-up. None of them expected that more than a decade later, they would still be going and become the envy of several other jurisdictions around the world.
“Over the years, we’ve received messages from people in America, Italy, England, Ireland, Malaysia and other countries asking about our origins in the hope that they can mimic our success,” says Rod. “We started this back in 2010 just for ourselves, never realising that we might actually inspire others to try something similar!”
Mutual respect is the key attribute of the collective’s success, so despite the LGBT+ foundations, Wrestling for Fun has welcomed men of all persuasions.
“We’re a non-sexual, social/sports group, so sexuality is irrelevant. What’s important is that participants respect each other as a person and respect the experience and limitations of their opponent to avoid injury and make sure everyone has fun.”
Each meet-up comprises three half-hour bouts where participants are randomly matched up with another participant. During that time, each pair can use their time to grapple, practice, teach or even just talk about their experiences. It’s up to them. Between each bout, the participants come back together as a group to socialise and rest.
“The social aspect of Wrestling for Fun is just as important as the grappling,” says Rod. “We usually go out for dinner together afterwards and sometimes during the meet ups, we get into such a robust conversation that we have to remind ourselves that we’re there to wrestle! Seeing guys bond so deeply and able to open up to each other is something extraordinary.”
Wrestling for Fun currently meets every six weeks, with an option for new guys to try a one-on-one grapple before attending a group meet if they just what to dip their toe in the water.
For more information about what happens at a wrestling meeting, what to wear, and other pertinent issues can be found on the Wrestling for Fun website: at www.wrestlingforfun.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/WrestlingForFun/
Image: Two Guys Wrestlers (supplied)