So You Want My Job: Professional Wrestler

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 2, 2009 · 8 comments

in Money & Career, So You Want My Job


Once again we return to our So You Want My Job series, in which we interview men who are employed in desirable jobs and ask them about the reality of their work and for advice on how men can live their dream.

Today’s interview is quite a departure from our usual fare! King Dabada is a veteran professional wrestler who has worked around the world including the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Japan. These days he wrestles for Fog City Wrestling, San Francisco’s premier wrestling organization. Fog City Wrestling is wrestling 2.0 for the online masses.

1. Tell us a little about yourself (Where are you from? How old are you? Describe your job and how long you’ve been at it, etc).

Well, I was born in Stockton, CA and raised all my life in San Francisco. Hung out in Sunnydale all my life; went to school at Jefferson and got kicked out; went to Balboa and got kicked out of there, and so on and so on! I’ve been wrestling for just under 10 years. It’s been pretty good to me so far; I can’t complain. And don’t ask me how old I am!

2. Why did you want to become a pro wrestler?

I saw my uncle Reno Tuufuli wrestling on television one day, and from then on I was hooked. I started to go to the Cow Palace and watch him and Rocky Johnson and Jimmy Snuka work. It was nothing I’d ever seen before; it just amazed me. I couldn’t wait to be a wrestler. I was so excited about it. I miss those days watching my uncles work and messing around with the wrestlers and some of the old timers in the locker room. Those memories I will never forget. We used to sneak in the back door of the Cow Palace and watch the whole show. Those were the days. The security would say, “Hey who are you?” and I would say, “I’m with the wrestlers.” The wrestlers would come out and say, “Yeah he’s good, that’s Reno’s nephew.” I would have the biggest smile on my face, and I would look at the security guard and say, “I told you I was with the wrestlers dummy!”

3. If a man wishes to become a pro wrestler, how should he prepare? Are there schools that teach people how to wrestle?

To me it’s either you do it or you don’t. There are good schools out there, but you just have to be careful which school you go to. Some will rip you off! You have to really look into it and do your homework on the school and the trainers. Nowadays they’ve got kids training kids, and that’s just plain stupid! I really frown on that because we got a lot of that all over the states. I would rather listen to a guy that worked for the WWE and never got a push ((When a wrestler gains popularity with wins and positive exposure. A push can be a sudden win over a major superstar, or becoming involved in a high profile angle)) then to listen to a young kid giving me advice on how to wrestle in a ring. It just doesn’t make sense. I didn’t have that problem because my cousin, former WWE star Yokozuna, trained me.

4. How do you break into the business and start getting jobs?

You have to promote yourself and push yourself. If you want to get to the top plain and simple, you have to have tools of the trade! If this is what you want to do with your life, then you better  prepare for the good times and the bad times.


5. How do you move up to bigger and better leagues?

You have to do your homework, study your profession, and learn the in ring story. Promoters will look for how much you know. The better you are the bigger the payday and the league. I watch a lot of the old school wrestling now because you don’t see that anymore. To me those are the guys that made the sport what it is today.

6. How do wrestlers choose and develop the character that they portray inside of the ring?

For me it just came naturally. Watching action movies is good because you got bad guys and good guys. You can take a character from a movie and mold it to fit your personality. Also, reading comic books or watching Star Trek, animated Japanese cartoons, or some old school comedy movies can inspire you. And you can get ideas just from hanging out with family and friends as well; now those guys are some good characters! You can take a little from anything and put it in the ring and see what kind of reaction you get from the crowd.

7. What is the work/family/life balance like?

Right now it’s good. I have no complaints from my wife and the kids, so I’m good for now; I am a happy man!

8. What is the best part of your job?

Giving the people what they want and more. Also making sure the other wrestler doesn’t get hurt because I know he is trying to support his family, too.

9. What is the worst part of your job?

  1. When wrestlers get hurt for doing high risk moves, knowing full well they don’t have to, in order to get over with the crowd! I think that’s plain stupid!
  2. Getting hit with a chair ten times and the guy is still standing or when you do a devastating move and your opponent is down and then he fixes his knee pad or pulls up his shorts!
  3. When you get promoters that think they know about the business but never did a bump ((When the wrestler hits the mat)) in their life. It cracks me up with the story lines they come up with because they don’t make any sense at all.

10. What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

I hate it when people ask me, “Is it real or fake? My answer is that there’s only one way to find out, and that is to jump in the ring and find out yourself, and then you’ll know the answer!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thad September 3, 2009 at 5:10 am

Great article!

I grew up around many of the greats that were based on Charlotte, NC … esp Rick Flair. I used to really enjoy watching wrestling but it went a little over-the-top a few years ago. Then again, I read the other day that it was changing again (towards more entertainment) because of the competition from ultimate fighting … maybe it will move back towards the older style.

2 Jordan September 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Nice article. I am in training to be a pro wrestler and have to say it’s been one of the most interesting experiences of my life. The last question really nails it. Being a wrestler takes %110 of your body, mind and heart. I wish the business would get more respect than it does.

3 Justin From Bitchin' Lifestyle September 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Maybe you guys could help me out in understanding something… I’ve never been a huge fan of wrestling, although I have followed certain characters over the years. Boxing and MMA have always been more up my alley. Now, for all the outcomes in the WWE are obviously fixed, and the idea is to have things played out like a soap-opera, these guys still take a beating and, their bodies still take a massive amount of punishment. So why, if you’re going to put yourself through that much, would you rather do it in a forum like WWE that’s harder to break into, pays less and is more physically taxing than UFC. In UFC you don’t even need a character to make it, just be a good enough fighter and you can be making the big bucks within a few years. Look at Brock Lesner, bigger now than he ever was (no pun intended).

4 Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin September 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm

As you say, Justin, pro wrestling is scripted. It is a combination of improvisational acting and live stunt work. You are quite right that storylines are vital to professional wrestling. There is nothing in this world closer to comic book superheroes and villains. That may not appeal to you, but it does appeal to others.

Like all stunt work, it is designed to do as little harm to the participants as possible. There will be accidents and injuries, but every effort is made to prevent them. As a result, there’s a decent chance that wrestlers suffer fewer injuries than MMA or UFC.

5 Dr.myers April 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I’ve been a wrestler on the independent circuit here in the sc/nc area for about 11 years. It’s everything Mr. Dabada says and then some. I’ve been lucky not get any serious injuries ( a broken heel bone being the worst) I always feel the effects of a hard match the next day and I only do this on the weekends! Imagine how the guys who do this on a weekly basis manage the pain. You really have to love the buisness to stick with it. MMA is popluar right now, but sooner or later, what goes up must come down and UFC is not exempt from this law of nature.

6 Matt January 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Great suggestions for how to develop a good guy/bad guy persona. Would you also suggest watching politics or other high emotion TV to determine how to draw high emotion from an audience?

7 Tori February 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I’m thinking about becoming a pro wrestler but I have no idea where to start? Do I start with the simple stuff like wrestling at school? Or do I start with the fighting classes and all that?

8 Justin Doudney February 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I love wrasslin

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter