Today’s announcement that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Wrestling report has recommended that professional wrestling in the United Kingdom should be considered a sport in training schools is disappointing and confusing.
British Wrestling welcomes the APPG’s report on an industry our sport is often confused with. Whilst we agree and support the majority of recommendations that seek to make the industry safer and more transparent for all involved it is clear that the key issue of sport or art remains.
Sport is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. Whereas professional wrestling is “A type of entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established character roles”. Sport by definition requires competition and the pursuit of victory which by its nature is not included in professional wrestling.
The performers involved in professional wrestling are clearly well trained athletic individuals however they train for the purpose of entertainment not for sport. To classify professional wrestling as a sport due to the training required would be to do the same for performers in many other professions, to take Cirque du Soleil as just one example.
Furthermore, by classifying the training as sport but shows, promotions and associated activity as theatrical, the report recommends applying differing guidance, legislation and regulation to the industry dependent on the setting. This will only exacerbate the problems seen in professional wrestling where, for too long, the industry has fallen between two sectors and make it more challenging to understand how the industry is governed and regulated.
British Wrestling works to ensure our safeguarding and welfare policies and procedures are robust to make the sport of wrestling as safe as possible for all participants. Our policies and procedures apply to all aspects of our sport, both training and competition, meaning our clubs, coaches, officials and participants have clarity on the requirements across the sport. This must be the case for any regulation or legislation for professional wrestling.
To be clear British Wrestling strongly discourages the government from classifying any aspect of professional wrestling as a sport.