In Malaysia, efforts to make professional wrestling an actual sport

Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MYPW) founder and coach Ayez Shaukat Fonseca Farid (2nd left) and wrestler Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana meet Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman in Putrajaya. — Picture via Facebook/MyProWrestling
Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MYPW) founder and coach Ayez Shaukat Fonseca Farid (2nd left) and wrestler Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana meet Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman in Putrajaya. — Picture via Facebook/MyProWrestling

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — Is professional wrestling an actual sport or a form of sports entertainment?

While there are differing views on this, the Youth and Sports Ministry is in discussions to formally recognise professional wrestling as an actual sport here in Malaysia.

Although no decision has been made yet, Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MYPW) founder and coach Ayez Shaukat Fonseca Farid said the issue of legitimising pro-wrestling as a sport was one of the main topics of discussion during a recent meeting with minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman earlier this week.

“In this world, only three countries see pro-wrestling as a sport — the US, Canada and Japan. Since there is a high athletic aspect of wrestling, these performers have to be recognised as athletes.

“The same applies in Malaysia, because I believe all of us are going through the same training as practiced worldwide,” he told Malay Mail when contacted yesterday.

“That was one of the things I brought up (during the discussion) and YB agreed to it as well because he does respect and understand the physicality we have to go through as wrestlers.”

He said Syed Saddiq also took an interest in the matter as professional wrestling also falls in the youth age category, since approximately 95 per cent of MYPW’s students are youths.

Yesterday, MYPW’s official Facebook page uploaded two photos of Syed Saddiq, Shaukat and 19-year-old hijabi Nor “Phoenix” Diana at a meeting, which was said to be about the future of professional wrestling in Malaysia.

Nor Diana, at barely five feet and weighing in less than 50kg, recently rose to stardom in Malaysia for being the first hijab-wearing professional wrestler.

Shaukat said the meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half with Syed Saddiq had taken place at the ministry in Putrajaya on August 1.

“This was the second meeting with YB. The first took place in February this year,” he added.

Shaukat said Syed Saddiq had even put forth several suggestions to help promote professional wrestling to the masses, one of it being its inclusion in the Bulan Sukan Negara (National Sports Month) held throughout the month of October.

“During the meeting, we also discussed about finding a place for us to train and the ministry allowing the use of one of its sports hall to perform our shows.

“Things are moving pretty fast as we speak, hopefully we will start seeing more progress in October,” he said.