An all-female wrestling collective performing is hoping to inspire more women to get involved in the sport, writes Katherine Johnson…

After putting on their first sell-out show in Theatre Delicatessen in Burgess Park, Camberwell, last month, Burning Hearts Fighting Entertainment competed on Sunday in front of another packed crowd.

Organiser Jane Dunn, from Greenwich, hopes the shows will become a regular fixture on the south London scene.

She told the Weekender: “The best way to describe our shows is that it is like community theatre but its wrestling and with an-all female team and crew who do it for the love of wrestling.”

The collective was set up in 2016 as a training group for women wrestlers of all experience levels. Ms Dunn explained: “We wanted an inclusive, like-minded group which was female-oriented where beginners would feel comfortable having a go. We took new women who were complete beginners and got them ready for matches and shows, and others joined who have performed all over the world.

“Ethnically we are diverse, and in all shapes and sizes. Maybe ten years ago there was a stereotype of how a woman wrestler should look but now there is a lot more opportunity for different types of people. We don’t all look like models, we’re just normal women but working towards something we feel helps build your confidence, to feel happy being you and express your personality.”

The training group was such a success they soon decided to put on shows of their own. Burning Hearts’ first show was held in September 2017.

‘Heather Honeybadger’, 28, from Nunhead said: “Our shows are special because we make all the decisions as a group – everything from posters down to where we train. A lot of us have been in the industry for a while, and though we love it, often it can be very male-dominated and you get little say in the way shows are run.

“We are a team that support women who are both starting out and are established, it’s a really nice environment to be part of. I love wrestling and particularly how it can smash stereotypes of what women can do.”

Ms Dunn stresses that Burning Hearts is not just for die-hard wrestling fans: “Our wrestlers are aged from seventeen to 35 and we have a huge variety from ‘Mischa East’, London’s strong girl, who lifts and throws, to smaller people with high-flying technical moves and athleticism.

“We’re aiming to be accessible, fun and entertaining and not just for people who are already into wrestling.”

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