Almost three years ago we published a profile of Battle based wrestler Tarnya Allen as she recalled her career, a career that she freely admitted hadn’t got off to the best of starts.
While today Tarnya’s alter-ego Skarlett is one of the biggest names on the UK professional wrestling circuit it could all have been so very different, and would anyone else have been able to take her place at the forefront of changing the image of female wrestlers and women’s place in wrestling in the UK? She told us in 2018: “When I ultimately step down I want to be able to say I’ve made a difference for women, that they are getting better opportunities with greater respect and recognition.”
Not satisfied with that, this year Tarnya has set out on a fresh crusade, this time aimed at changing the face of wrestling training and improving the care and protection youngsters get when they first step inside a wrestling training school.
Back in 2018 Tarnya told us: ‘I realise now that the first school I went to wasn’t actually that good but I didn’t understand that at the time. For people who want to get in to wrestling today I’d say ask questions, do your research and find the best people to train with if you are serious about making progress.”
She hopes that when local youngsters who want to get in to wrestling do their research and ask those questions they’ll realise her newly established Hastings Academy of Pro Wrestling (HAPW), that’s aimed at children aged between six and 15, is the place for them.
It’s part of the EWW Pro Wrestling family and the coaches are qualified, insured, DBS checked and first aid trained. On top of that they are all wrestlers themselves and head coach Tarnya is very clear about what she expects.
The young trainees adhere to a specific curriculum, designed for their age, that will teach them essential skills and techniques required to help them progress in pro wrestling.
They don’t just learn wrestling skills and techniques, at HAPW’s classes, Tarnya says the youngsters will learn to have a good work ethic, they’ll improve their fitness, be confident, build self-esteem, have self-defence skills, mental toughness, discipline and a lot more besides.
“It is the self-esteem and confidence that a wrestler has, which makes them very different to any other athlete,” she says.
“Wrestlers do not get bullied and they are not the bullies. They have learned discipline, earned and gained respect because of their hard work and commitment to achieving their goals. These are valuable lessons that will stick with our young trainees for a lifetime,” Tarnya adds.
Those themes are reflected in the awards that Tarnya and her team of coaches award on a monthly basis. Last month trainee Riley was one of two youngsters awarded Superstar of the Month and when making the award Tarnya told the class: “Riley has shown amazing team work and leadership skills, I always see him helping younger children…”
The other winner was Pippa and in making the award Tarnya said the youngster had shown “great dedication and determination” and was not afraid to persist with something she is shown, even when she finds it difficult.
Coach Luke Sibson is a primary school teacher by day and champion wrestler in his spare time. He has been training with the main EWW wrestling academy for three years and loves being part of HAPW, helping young people get a proper grounding in an academy that is as serious about the pastoral care and welfare of its students as it is about their physical performance.
For Luke it’s important that the youngsters get a chance, he says: “I’ve been a wrestling fan my whole life and always been a performer too,” but as a gay man he did not see the world of wrestling as a place for him until he went to see an EWW show in Kent and saw wrestlers from the LGBTQ community taking part. Opting then to give wrestling a try he went on to find, within EWW, a group of people who welcomed him in – he has never looked back.
HAPW’s youngsters have a great attitude, he says, they learn together and support each other. That’s important, he says, because in wrestling there needs to be: “…a great deal of trust in each other.”
Kiernan Ash, known to EWW fans as Grayson Dawn, is another of the HAPW coaches and is someone else who has wanted to wrestle from a very young age. He has trained in Judo but it was while doing Muay Thai that he met Tarnya and her husband Stu, known to wrestling fans as The Dominator, and he began training and working with EWW.
Keirnan has ambitions as an actor and loves the story telling aspect to wrestling: “What we do is part storytelling and a lot of people forget the importance telling the story,” he says.
He was delighted when Tarnya asked him to be part of HAPW: “There are not enough wrestling schools that teach respect and discipline,” he says. He hopes that the quality of the coaching the youngsters at HAPW receive and the fact that their coaches are also competing and performing in the ring at shows will give them something to aspire to and aim for.
And he points out that EWW, of which HAPW is part, is not just a wrestling school, he says it’s a community that cares about its members and their welfare and that is the culture that underpins the work that Tarnya and her coaches are doing with the children who train every Sunday at HAPW.
If you are interested in getting your kids involved with HAPW sessions take place at the HKA gym at 12/14, Maunsel Road, Castleham Industrial Estate, TN38 9NN between 10am and 11am every Sunday.
For more details follow the link below…