Pro wrestling staged in the centre of Camden
- Credit: Rob Brazier
A professional wrestling company born in north London is celebrating 10 years in business.
When it returns to Camden next month, Progress will be putting on its 134th show and, having launched at The Garage in Islington, a spokesperson said: "We’ve got our heart in North London really.”
Founded by comedian Jim Smallman in 2012, Progress's alumni include WWE wrestlers Finn Bálor and Tyler Bate.
Now with headliners across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle, the regular venue is still the Electric Ballroom.
Progress is referred to as “punk-rock pro wrestling”, as “a sort of counter-culture but also very much rooted in good social politics”.
A spokesperson said Camden is ideal for the wrestling scene.
“It has a vast range of interesting backgrounds and things to do for all sorts of people," they said. "It's a hugely vibrant place.”
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In March the company held an all-women's show, Who Run The world?, at Tufnell Park’s The Dome, as well as a show for people of colour, Everything Patterned.
“Over the years it was a hugely male-dominated sport but if you look around the western landscape, especially in the last two years or so, there's been a real shift in that and we would like to respect it going forward," said the spokesperson.
“We have to take care of people from all sorts of different backgrounds but also revel in it – it's not just a token thing. Anyone who's on a Progress show is on it because they deserve to be.”
One of Progress’ contestants, Gene Munny, is a marketing manager with a university degree behind him. But he is trying to give that up for his dreams as a professional wrestler.
He said: “Wrestling in my opinion is one of the most underappreciated performance pieces because you've got to be a stunt man, you've got to be a fighter, you've got to be a dancer, you've got to be an actor, you've got to be a comedian all at the same time."
He described Progress as "that beautiful hybrid of the quality and level of performance that you'd expect from a multi-billionaire brand company, but with the homemade features of an independent wrestling show".
Munny will take on world champion Jonathon Gresham at Chapter 134: No Mountain High Enough on May 15 at The Electric Ballroom. A Super Strong Style event will be held on the Jubilee weekend.