City wrestlers are ready to rumble...

Wrestlers at Sheffield Library Theatre 'Solid John Green'(Ben Green) right) with 'Mason' (Nick Mason)
Wrestlers at Sheffield Library Theatre 'Solid John Green'(Ben Green) right) with 'Mason' (Nick Mason)
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He’s called Solid John Green, has biceps the size of most people’s legs and is the proud owner of pecs which would make even Big Daddy blush.

And, right now, he’s standing in nought but a pair of blue spandex pants and bright white boots, frowning at The Diary. He doesn’t appear to appreciate the suggestion that wrestling is show business starring men who like Lycra a little more than they should.

“It is a form of pantomime,” nods the 29-year-old of Chapeltown, real name Ben. “But you have to respect the guys who do this. We’re trained athletes performing complex, improvised moves.

“Sure I could do a sport where the aim is to kick six shades of crap out of someone but nothing beats the thrill of wrestling when the crowd are all cheering you against a bad guy.”

The crowd, he hopes, will be cheering this Saturday.

Then, a fast-growing Dronfield-based wrestling federation will host its biggest show to date when it stages a right old rumble at The Library Theatre, in Tudor Square, Sheffield.

Some 200 people, mainly families, will watch 15 local grapplers do their best to beat-down, blow-up and bust-open each other.

“We started Elite British Wrestling 18 months ago because there was so much potential for this in and around Sheffield,” says founder Danielle Ovesend-Hog, 31, of Handsworth. “We now have about 30 wrestlers and we do a show every couple of months. The crowds keep getting bigger - and louder.”

Those wrestlers, then? There’s Mean Machine Mark Sanders, a 6ft8 monster best known for a signature move called the air-burst powerbomb (and a butcher, of Chapeltown, by day); there’s Dangerous Danny Brydon, a loose cannon with an unhealthy appetite for risks (when he’s not working at Sheffield Hallam Uni, that is); and there’s Shax, aka Beth Jefferson, a bartender of Ecclesall, who may be just 5ft - but that doesn’t stop her executing a mean-looking boot to an opponent’s chops.

“We take wrestlers in all shapes and sizes,” says Danielle, who trains the group at S18 Gym in Callywhite Lane. “You don’t have to be all muscle. The most important thing is being willing to train hard and know how to work a crowd. You can be the biggest bloke going but if you have the charisma of a wet cabbage, you’d be no good.”

Most of EBW’s grapplers got into it after a childhood watching the likes of Giant Haystacks and Hulk Hogan.

“I loved it from the moment I first saw it,” says Nick Mason, a 30-year-old, of Dronfield, whose stage name is, er, Mason. “I’ve been wrestling on-and-off since I was 16. I’m a baddie so, for me, it’s the best thrill when you’re standing on stage and the crowd are booing you.

“I’ve done it round the country so it’s great to be part of a local set-up now.”

Oh, and while it may all be staged, it doesn’t come without risks.

Solid John Green, a fitness instructor, is still here in his pants. “I split the inside of my throat and lungs once,” he remarks, casually.

“My opponent threw me into the air but the landing went wrong. At first everyone thought it was part of the show but then I coughed blood on to the ref. The bout was stopped.”

It wasn’t, it seems, enough to put him off. He’ll be going pec to pec with that same opponent on Saturday.

He - and the rest of EBW - are ready to rumble.

Two shows, 2.45pm and 6pm. See www.ringsideworld.co.uk for tickets.