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November 2015 issue
by Pavel Volkov
Wrestling is a combat sport involving athletic skills, martial arts and theatre.
Wrestling is not very popular in Russia. There is only one Russian wrestling club and it is located in Moscow. Its
training section is in the basement of a building, where beginners can learn and more experienced fighters can train.
Periodically the wrestlers arrange shows, where they demonstrate their training and skills. To do this they rent
premises and install improvised rings.
Performances are preceded by a long workout, because during the show the wrestler performs a lot of dangerous
tricks and stunts, often leading to injuries. The aim of the game is not victory over the enemy – it is much more
important for wrestlers to give the most spectacular theatrical performance. To do this, athletes carefully think of their
stage character, its history and relationships with other participants.
There are some violent scenes, known as ‘hardcore rounds’, scripted into the performances which may include cruelty,
blood and injuries. These scenes are all pre-scripted and predetermined by the fighters. Wrestlers say that even
though there is pre-scripting, and thus a certain predictability to the actions of the enemy, restling is a demanding
sport that requires good physical preparation.
Today in Russia wrestling is considered to be an entirely Western sport and remains not very popular. It is thought to
glorify Western violence. Organisers of the sport frequently experience problems hiring venues as landlords don’t
want to be seen to be renting to wrestlers. Nevertheless, wrestlers in Russia have found a small minority of fans who
faithully attend their shows with a lust for their brand of blood thirsty entertainment.