St Albans gym owner Callum Hill on pro-wrestling circuit
- Credit: Archant
Callum Hill spends his week helping the women of St Albans with their battle to get fit, but the weekends see him take on a different kind of fight.
As the owner of énergie fitness for women, many would think that Callum, 27, gets his fitness kick in the four walls of the top floor gym.
What many of his clients may not know is that when the weekend arrives, Callum leaves the ladies’ gym for crowded arenas across the country.
Come Saturday, Callum transforms into alter ego Jonathan Hardwick – a pro wrestler touring England with LDN wrestling.
Jonathan Hardwick, a pompous snob, is based on Callum’s former career working for the local council.
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He said: “With pro-wrestling, it’s part entertainment, part fighting. You play a character and mine is called Jonathan Hardwick, he’s a posh snob gimmick.
“My middle name is Jon and when we were trying to come up with a posh name it fitted. I used to work for the council at the time before I got in to fitness.
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“My character would come in and try to shut down the venue, saying they were going against health and safety guidelines.
“It gets you heat with the crowd, and that’s that purpose, you want them to hate you. There’s always a good guy and a bad guy. I don’t do the council side any more though, just the posh bit.”
A 15-year-old Callum was given his first shot at the sport when he met his then idol ‘Jake the Snake’ at a show in Hertford.
After going to get an autograph, Callum was delighted to hear that his favourite wrestler was opening up a wrestling academy in Jake’s then home of London Colney.
The following years saw Callum skydive into the world of wrestling, even appearing on television.
Weekly shows on a former digital channel called ‘Fight Network’ would see his filmed fights rake in up to 100,000 viewers.
The shows haven’t aired in years, but Callum was recently filmed at an Alban Arena performance for an ITV pilot.
Callum explained: “Everybody talks about the wrestling of the 1970s and 80s when it was really big with the likes of ‘Big Daddy’.
“It was the biggest thing to watch on a Saturday afternoon. So all the big names from that era are part of a movement to bring back British wrestling, and that’s why ITV have filmed a pilot.”
Although wrestling is well and truly a part of Callum’s life, it wasn’t the case for a number of years, when he took some time out to do other things.
Callum said: “I had just got together with a new girlfriend, who I am still with now; we’ve just got engaged actually!
“I spent more time working on personal training, which then led to owning the gym, and then I had injuries so I thought I was never going back.”
Despite this, Callum’s passion was once again ignited upon receiving a call which tempted him back to touring.
Callum added: “I thought ‘hey, it’s been long enough, I’ll go back again’ and I’ve been doing it every week since then.”
It is an infatuation that began in his childhood and still stays with him now. Callum explained: “I was about 12 when I really got in to it. Most people thought ‘he’s going to grow out if it’, but I didn’t. You get bit by the wrestling bug.”
While many think the sport is just an act, it can require some serious training. Callum offered advice for those looking to get involved: “Be prepared, it is hard work. If it’s something you really want to do, it’s going to hurt.”