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Forget GLOW, check out east London’s women wrestlers fighting stereotypes

PUBLISHED: 10:50 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:52 28 June 2017

The Owen's twins versus Nina Samuelas at EVE Wrestling. PICTURE: Roger Alarcon

The Owen's twins versus Nina Samuelas at EVE Wrestling. PICTURE: Roger Alarcon

ROGER ALARCON

The latest Netflix must-watch, GLOW, looks at the “Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling”, but Bethnal Green has its own fighting women.

Riho takes flight at EVE Wrestling. PICTURE: Roger AlarconRiho takes flight at EVE Wrestling. PICTURE: Roger Alarcon

A railway arch in Poyser Street, marked by a sign saying “secret girl gang clubhouse”, is home to the UK’s premier feminist, punk rock all-female wrestling team.

Founded a decade before the Alison Brie-fronted series brought the sport back into the limelight, Pro-wrestling:EVE celebrates female power and physicality in an entertaining way - but founder Emily Read admits it hasn’t always been easy.

In the early days of her career as a wrestling promoter alongside husband Dann, Emily said “We were encouraged to keep quiet about the feminist angle” of their acts - not a far cry from the misogynist undertones that the high-budget show portrays.

“I’m really excited about GLOW - it’s extra exposure for the sport,” Emily said.

“People would think that women’s wrestling was just a joke, and not worth covering.

“We have had times when we have booked a show and the venue has pulled it when they realise it’s all-female wrestling.”

Reluctantly, they toed the line in a male-dominated industry, until “I had my daughter and my son and wanted them to see us championing gender equality.”

Years later, with the women’s sport starring in a big-budget drama, Emily feels that EVE has played a part in challenging perceptions: “We have had wrestling fans come and say they were blown away by the level of the fighters.

“We have had it happen a lot when we put women’s matches on at our mixed shows.”

Now, with a permanent home at alternative culture venue Resistance Gallery, EVE has the security to be as vibrant, violent and fabulous as they want.

“We are very open and forthright with our views now,” Emily says - something that can be seen from the huge banner behind the ring of “a remarkably orange man in a suit in a wrestling hold bearing the slogan “piledrive a fascist”, and another of “a giant muscular set of ovaries” with “fight like a girl” written beneath it.

You can book tickets for EVE’s two July 15 shows at evewrestling.com


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