Having fans is cool but at some point wouldn’t it be nice if those wrestling skills could pay the bills?
For an overwhelming majority of independent wrestlers, wrestling is not what puts food on the table. Myself included. Ask the top stars in your local indy scene. High chance even they don’t make the rent with their in-ring careers. So let’s get real today.
Can you make money with wrestling? Here’s why this post is worth reading.
Because of the skills I’ve acquired through my wrestling career, my monthly income now ranks above the 90th percentile among Singaporeans in my age group, based on a 2019 benchmarking study. And it will probably be even higher in 2020, because of the ongoing economic recession.
That’s serious money.
Not a flex. Just wish to share tips with you as a fellow wrestler.
The things you learn in wrestling that make you a successful performer are very useful.
But I’m not talking about your signature moves or catchphrases. I absolutely couldn’t care less about how you finish your opponent, or what cute thing you say before the end of each promo. Think further than that to get paid.
In fact, it is likely that you’ll even lose money for each wrestling match you perform.
I need a comprehensive insurance plan, but can’t afford it. I’m investing all my money in gear, flights, accommodation, transport — I’ve barely anything for myself these days. My fees are what tide me through to remain fed.Alexis Lee, Singapore’s first female pro wrestler
So to make real money, think out of the box. It doesn’t have to be the physical act of wrestling directly.
It comes down to how you apply the skills you’ve picked up over your wrestling career. Can your talents add value to an employer or consumer? Here’s my journey, you can think about how it relates to you.
First, what are you good at? You’ve got to know this better than anybody else. As an example, here are my strengths.
Let’s talk about each point briefly below, so you can start connecting the dots in your own life.
Someday when you’re raking in the cash we can laugh together about how you did it, over a couple of drinks. Don’t be a stranger when you’re rich!
Less than 2 years into my wrestling career, I Instagrammed my way to the gold, twice. Initially, Instagram (icon in the footer, give it a follow!) was just a way to document my adventures for my friends’ amusement. But it got serious real quick and suddenly I found promoters putting their championship titles on me. Then we opened Grapple MAX.
I had reinvented myself. It was my first taste of personal branding for a specific objective.
So when I was trying to carve out a new career in tech, I applied the same exact model. I created new social media accounts, and posted religiously about the subjects everyday. It raised my visibility and credibility. Before long I was getting job interviews because my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles were working for me, the same way Instagram did for me in wrestling.
If you currently have a social media profile or fan page, you’ve developed an understanding of personal branding. Don’t let that knowledge go to waste!
Wrestling is physical theatre. It’s non-verbal storytelling, something you’re reasonably competent in.
What is non-verbal communication? It refers to body language – how you sit, the hand gestures you use, the eye contact you hold, the micro expressions on your face, all of that. Because I usually play a babyface, I get lots of practice on how to appear likeable, respected or inspiring.
Now because of effective non-verbal communication, I succeed in 4 out of 5 job interviews. Many times I get job offers after just hanging out at a bar with a CEO. This means I get the luxury of choice. Wouldn’t you want that too? You get to choose who your employer is, instead of the other way round. Think about that power for a second.
The way you carry yourself in front of your interviewer is what gets you the job contract. Give off cues that portray confidence and authority. While you were at it, did you negotiate a higher salary too?
I talk on the mic sometimes for wrestling. Now I get paid to talk for a living about technology and investments. Thanks for all the airtime, wrestling!
You can be sure people don’t remember much of what you say. But they remember your delivery. I’ve learned how to: pace my breathing, build up to a key point, recover after a blooper, and even sound convincing without prior preparation.
All that is worth a high hourly rate for each of my speaking engagements. So can you imagine how lucrative it is when I’m booked to conduct full day corporate training courses?
Because of my adventures in pro wrestling, I learned many skills along the way which allowed me to pivot into new career paths in tech and finance.
These options wouldn’t have been accessible to me if I hadn’t spent all that time building up the soft skills required to excel in these jobs. I’ve leapfrogged the pay scale and now make money with wrestling abilities sharpened on the independent circuit.
If you intend to take your wrestling all the way to the big leagues in WWE or NJPW, more power to you. I’m sincerely rooting for you. Live those dreams for me, for all of us. But for those who never make it there – listen – your years spent in wrestling haven’t been a complete waste of time. Serious money is still possible.
It’s not a secret that we hold jobs outside of wrestling to support ourselves so that we may pursue a career in this sport. But are you just barely scraping by each month, or are you crushing it out there in the real economy the way you like to play pretend badass in the ring?
It’s not an easy time in the world. Be proactive with your strategies, and get creative with how you can make money with wrestling!
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this one on identifying your wrestling audience? You can’t make money if you don’t know who you’re selling to.
Photos by Calvin Alexi and Najwan Noor.