Tasman Bartlett-Masina's parents laughed when he first told them one day he wanted to be a pro wrestler.
Now the 21-year-old from Auckland's North Shore is hoping to make a fulltime career out of the sport and his mum and dad's support is growing. Bartlett-Masina saw his first live match at an Impact Pro Wrestling event when he was younger and is today one of its main acts.
The risk of injury is a fact of life for a wrestler but it doesn't put him off.
"It's lots of fun and just like any sport, sometimes you get hurt."
He says this smiling as he shows a 5 centimetre scar on his thigh which he got from trying to drop kick a ladder.
He considers it a performance art and says his fellow competitors don't aim to injure each other.
"We never go out into a match thinking we are going to really hurt someone, but if we get cut, we get cut.
"That is something we are prepared for - it's just what happens."
Bartlett-Masina goes by his stage name TK Cooper when he is in the ring and says a highlight of the job is working with the crowd.
"We have some diehard fans who really get involved with the show and make it fun."
One of his favourite events is NightMare Before Christmas.
"The main match is called The Fans Bring the Weapons and people bring in random things like Christmas trees and Xboxes.
"Then the wrestlers will grab the Xboxes and smash each other on the head with them or throw them at each other. It's a great show," he says.
He joined the Impact Pro Wrestling team after a tough application process.
"I had to do an intense physical cardio test and out of 30 applicants who applied I was one of 10 who made it through," he says.
The next Impact Pro Wrestling event is on May 17 at Auckland's Lynfield Recreation Centre and doors will open at 6.30pm.
Bartlett-Masina is competing in the main event which will be a tag-team ladder match for the NZ Tag-Team Championships.
- North Shore Times
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