Lupo Lee is the first to admit he’s just an ‘arrogant street punk’. He’ll tell you proudly how he recently got involved in a brawl with the man who has made him what he is today and then ran off – stealing £5,000 from his mentor in the process.
But Lupo Lee is just a character, a persona that 21-year-old Taylor Leigh adopts every time he goes to work… as a professional wrestler.
Wrestling has been Taylor’s dream for as long as he can remember. He recalls, as a child, watching the exploits of heroes including the likes of Ray Mysterio of the WWE on television and just knowing he wanted to be one of the men in the ring, entertaining the crowd and whipping them in to a frenzy of emotion.
This weekend Taylor takes a big step on his road to success as he heads to Rugby to take part in a show run by Legacy Wrestling and more specifically to compete a 20-man Royal Rumble at the Benn Hall. It’ll be the first time Taylor has donned his Lupo Lee alter-ego for anyone other than Hastings based Extreme World Wrestling headed up by Stu and Tarnya Allen aka Dominator and Skarlett.
It’s a big step, and he admits to being nervous but he’ll be travelling with a group of friends, some of those he trains with, who will be there to support him all the way.
Taylor started wrestling training when he was just 12 and says he was lucky to be able to do so at that age. He got a mixed reaction from his schoolmates because he didn’t – and still doesn’t – conform to the stereotype of a wrestler. He’s not a big guy and he admits that he has never been particularly athletic. But once he’s in the ring that all changes.
One of his PE teachers from The Grove was a big fan of wrestling and teased Taylor, in a good way, about what at that time was a hobby.
Wrestling is all that Taylor wants to do, it’s all he has ever wanted to do and he credits Stu and Tarnya for providing not just the training and the coaching but the support that has got him to this stage in his career. Taylor has faced some tough times but the Allens have always had his back, helped him through, and kept him on the straight and narrow he says.
He is utterly focussed on his wrestling and Stu says that has been the case for many years, he is hugely complimentary about the young man’s skills not just as a wrestler but as someone who will be able to manage his own career and promote himself to the various wrestling promotions that operate throughout the UK and beyond.
He was 14 when he first stepped in to a wrestling ring as part of the show. He played the part of a mouthy kid in the audience who was dragged into the centre of the action to fuel the feud between the men taking part in the main event. It wasn’t until he was 18 that he could climb between the ropes as a fully fledged competitor ready to do battle with his opponent.
“I was so nervous, I’d never been that tense before, but when I got out there the nerves went away and I went in to a different zone, it was amazing!” he says.
Taylor is a self-effacing young man and looking back at that first match now he says, “I don’t think I should have been in there, I don’t think I was good enough,” but mentors Stu and Tarnya are confident it was the right time for him and they have loved watching him grow not just as a wrestler but as a person too.
For a short time Taylor was homeless, “I lived in a shed,” he says. But even then he never let his focus shift from his goal and no matter what, he made the twice weekly training sessions, continuing to hone his craft. He says he is happiest when he is training and that wrestling has, “kept me grounded and focussed.”
Local people will be able to see Taylor – or Lupo – in action on June 30 when EWW stages what it calls its Academy Show in Battle Memorial Hall when Lupo Lee faces off against Joey Axl, tickets are available at Eww-wrestling.com
He has huge praise for the Allens too: “Not every wrestling school has what we have at EWW and that’s down to Stu and Tarnya… everyone helps each other, there are no individual egos,” he says.
For the future Taylor is certain that wrestling is the career for him. He has already – under the ever-watchful eye of Stu and Tarnya – started to broaden his skills. He is working on a promotional video that he can use to showcase his talents and promote his skills and abilities to other wrestling promoters. Beyond that he recognises that there will come a time when he might no longer be physically able to compete and he has his eye on management and running his own wrestling company.
But for the time being all his focus is on this weekend and the Benn Hall in Rugby where he will be one of 20 men in the ring, to be eliminated you have to be thrown out of the ring over the top rope. From what we saw of his training when we went to meet him this week Taylor looks quick and nimble enough to keep himself out of trouble and to make sure he puts on a good show for the crowd that has turned up to watch.
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