Mark Mercedes, organiser and performer in the IWA Pro Wrestling Tour takes some time out from his bone crushing, back breaking, body slamming, adrenalin pumping action to speak with Focus about his passion for pro wrestling …
What sparked your interest in the sport of wrestling?
As a kid, I watched WWF Superstars on Channel 10. Around the same time, a kid brought to school a wrestling magazine – and from that day on, I was hooked.
Wrestling back than was huge. Wrestlemania had just began – Hulk Hogan, Mr T, King Kong Bundy and Roddy Piper; it was larger than life.
> How important is diet and exercise in your daily regime as part of your career?
Like any professional sport, it is important. Wrestling is all about a look. To be on top of your game, you should look toned, tanned and pumped.
The demands of travel and touring can make it hard; finding gyms and eating healthy food is sometimes hard to impossible. But to compete on an international stage like any sport, it takes dedication.
> How do people react when you tell them you are a wrestler?
Well, considering I am 6ft 2 (187cm) and weigh about 250 pounds (120kg), most people are not surprised!
Over the years I have had many different looks, from no hair, mohawks, long, dark black and bleached blond hair; let’s say I stand out in a crowd! But all in all, I generally get good reactions – most people are quite intrigued.
> The sort of wrestling that you do is a real performance. What kind of training is required?
I spent almost a year in Tampa Florida training at the Malenko School of Wrestling. Like any profession, the longer and harder you work at it, the better you get. I was very lucky to catch some big breaks and wrestling in WCW in the USA and companies in Germany and Japan.
Length of training depends. There are so many aspects to learn – falls, or what we call bumps, to moves – and then putting it all together and telling a story in conjunction with entertaining a live crowd.
> Who are some local and international wrestling stars that you admire?
Over the years, so many people have influenced my career. From when I was young, the likes of Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy and Randy Savage, to name a few!
It was a very big buzz to one day be able to work alongside some of these veterans. I was very fortunate to be on shows with Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg, Sting and wrestle people like Rick Steiner, Rick Martel, Rob Van Dam and more. I am very lucky …
> At what age should one begin and end their wrestling career?
That is a hard question. You can begin to learn at an early age, 16, but to make it in the pro ranks, I would say in your 20s.
A good time to finish your career is when you stop making money from it. Or when your body tells you it’s time!
> Why should people come along to the show, and what can they expect?
We are a family fun show, with lots of great wrestlers performing. Unlike the American version, we may not have the high budgets of pyro lights and glitz, but I can say that you will get 2 hours of non stop, fun, exciting entertainment!
The wrestlers really go out of their way to work hard and entertain the crowd. It is very interactive, and we encourage kids / adults of all ages to cheer and boo for their favourite wrestlers.
Also, at the end of each show all the wrestlers will come out for meet and greet the audience. This allows the kids to be up close and talk with the wrestlers and get that autograph.
> How do your family feel about your chosen career path?
(Laughs.) Well, I think by the stage I moved to the USA, my parents were not surprised. They have always been supportive in what I did. I think they were happy, as long as I could support myself from wrestling.
I am pretty sure they are pretty proud now after 18 years performing full time here and overseas along with 3 seasons of television on the Foxtel/Austar Network.
I consider myself to be very lucky doing what I do; being paid to travel the world and perform and entertain many people is a great way to make a living.
> Who is your biggest competitor / rival?
Wow, that’s a hard question! I don’t think I have a biggest rival, other than myself and age. After 18 years of performing and travel, my body is getting a little more sore and tired.
It’s a little harder after each match now, and I just don’t recover like I did in my twenties. But like all things in life, the older you get, the smarter you get in how you do it!
> Thank you Mark.