Returning to the ring
When most people think of professional wrestling, “wholesome family fun” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Huge men hitting each other with barbed-wire-wrapped folding chairs, scantily clad women, and more foul language and tacky insults than a Jersey Shore episode are what you’d expect from the big televised companies like the WWE.
But White Rock wrestler Tim Justice is out to change the sport’s image one power slam (his signature move) at a time, and help out local kids in need of an athletic outlet in the process.
After a five-year layoff from the ring due to various injuries, Justice, 32, is about to make his comeback with Surrey-based All Star Wrestling.
The company donates most of the proceeds from its shows to charities or local schools, and all its shows are family-themed, with no swearing or gratuitous violence allowed.
Last summer, ASW opened a wrestling training school for kids, where achievements in the classroom are a prerequisite to action inside the ring.
“I grew up in White Rock and things haven’t changed since I went to high school. There’s no real outlet for kids in the area,” Justice said. “This school is focusing on younger people. We’ve got a couple kids right now that were struggling just to finish high school and one of the conditions that the owner, Michelle Starr, set with the parents is that they have to get their high school diploma and get decent grades.”
Justice says the charitable nature of ASW is what convinced him to make a comeback.
Not a day goes by when some part of his body isn’t hurting when he wakes up, he said – thanks to various sprains, concussions and back injuries he’s picked up over the course of his career. Still, he jumped at the chance to use wrestling as a way to give back.
“Their main focus right now is fundraising for schools and sports teams, so I figured that because I’m feeling better lately and because it’s such a good cause, ASW is something I want to be involved with,” said Justice.
He will take on Toga Boy during the next ASW show on April 8 at Westview Secondary in Maple Ridge. The night is a fundraiser for the school’s athletics department, with two Westview grads – Disco Fury and Artemis Spencer - squaring off in the main event.
ASW’s athletes have diverse backgrounds. Some are former members of big-name wrestling companies, but many others have only wrestled part-time while doing a variety of other things to pay the bills.
Some are actors or stunt men, others are dockworkers and one is even a Simon Fraser University professor.
“There’s no money in it for us, much more than gas money to get to the shows, and guys are aware of that. Some have done stints in major leagues like the WWE. They’ve travelled around doing shows in Japan, the UK and across the U.S., but a lot of them are older guys now and are just looking to give back to the community.”
Justice is a bookkeeper by trade, working part-time in restaurants as well to supplement his income. In addition to ASW events, he is at the wrestling school two nights a week, helping the next batch of wrestlers earn their stripes in the ring.
“When I started out there were lots of guys getting into it and not enough matches, so there were a lot of egos involved and the newer guys wouldn’t get the time of day from the more established wrestlers,” Justice said. “With All Star Wrestling, it’s all about older guys like myself teaching and helping the younger generation get into it.”
The school opened its doors last August, setting up shop near the Scott Road SkyTrain Station in Surrey. Currently, there are seven students signed up.
Some are as young as 15 and new to wrestling, while one 17-year-old student will make his debut performance with ASW once he is eligible to do so at age 18.
But even though the instructors have decades of experience, Justice says it’s important for the students to keep in mind that making a career out of wrestling is no easy feat.
“Everyone who gets into the business wants to be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, but 99 per cent won’t make it,” he says.
That’s why the school emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between the classroom and the wrestling mat, and teaches confidence and respect just as much as athletic ability.
Justice says his own wrestling career never took off before injuries slowed him down, and although he’s satisfied with his current role as a mentor to the next generation, he wouldn’t pass up a shot at the big time if it came his way.
“I’m happy with where I am. Although if Vince McMahon calls, I’ll definitely pick up. Never say never in a business like this.”