It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil – sequinned and lycra-clad wrestlers of all shapes and sizes hurling each other across a ring as the delirious crowd howls with delight.
This is lucha libre – Mexico’s second most popular sport after soccer. Jack Black has even made a movie about it (it’s actually pretty funny) and a lucha libre tournament has become one of the experiences that almost every visitor to Mexico City squeezes onto their agenda, which is kudos in itself – there’s a lot to see and do in this magnificent city.
But perhaps most surprising of all is that one of those sweaty wrestlers, known as luchadors, is actually an Aussie – and a pretty ripped one at that.
Thunder has made his way from Sydney’s laidback eastern suburbs to the frenzied pace of Mexico City to take on the flamboyant fighters of the lucha libre.
We get to know the man behind the mask…
Did you follow Lucha Libre before becoming a luchador?
As a kid I watched American wrestling every week, but as I grew older I lost interest in being a spectator and decided that I wanted to do it myself.
After a few years of training in Australia and Japan, I decided to come to Mexico and learn the art of lucha libre among the best in the world.
How did you end up becoming Thunder?
Different concepts were discussed between myself and the owner of the company, but due to my aggressive lucha style and the power I exert in the ring, the boss nicknamed me the Thunder from Down Under and I guess it stuck.
What were the main challenges?
Foreigners are few and far between in the world on Mexican lucha libre. Learning the style is difficult and it took some time to adapt but the rewards of keeping positive and focused have paid off. I’m sure there will be more challenges in the future.
It’s always tough going to a foreign country and starting from scratch, but everybody has challenges in their life and if you believe deep down that you want something bad enough, then take action and go and get it.
What kind of training did you have to undergo?
When I first arrived in Mexico, I was training in the ring five days per week under the guidance of the best lucha libre coaches in the country.
Learning the Mexican style is not only very technical but extremely hard on the body. It takes a lot of conditioning work which is always an on-going process to maintain.
Do you now consider Mexico to be your home?
Australia will always be my home. I miss it every second that I’m away.
I’m fortunate enough to have grown up having access to golf courses and beaches on my doorstep and that’s a hell of a lot different to Mexico City. It takes some time to adjust.
Do you have to follow a special diet?
Yes, I have been following a strict diet for about 10 years now. I keep my diet very clean all year round and it enables me to gain maximum results in the gym and in the ring.
My weekly food bill is the same as a large family’s monthly bill!
Did you design your own costume? Is it comfortable?
No, the company designs my costumes. Apparently they’re made from the finest Mexican silks and lycras!
How do you cope with the fame that comes with the role? Is it a party lifestyle?
At first it was strange, but you get used to it over time. I don’t go out very often, I prefer to stay away from the crowds when I can.
A 6 foot 5 120kg luchador from Australia can’t exactly hide among the crowds over here and it makes you really enjoy your own space at home.
What do you love the most about your sport?
There is no spectacle in the world that compares to lucha libre. I like to call it acrobatics with violence.
Not to mention the feeling you get when you wrestle in front of 15 000 screaming fans at Arena Mexico – that’s when you know why you love it so much.
Would you follow your passion around the world?
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