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Hardcore Wrestling

Photographer: Kim Ludbrook


In the East Rand region of South Africa lives dedicated, passionate, amateur hardcore wrestling community, whose members find time between work and family to put on shows for their devoted following of fans at local community halls, high schools and motorcycle rallies.


Run by the country's premier hardcore wrestling promoters, South African Pro Wrestling, training of wrestlers and fight events become part of life for those who follow their passion of entertaining and fighting.


Wrestlers with ring names like 'The Jackal', 'Hector Payne', 'Big Fire' and 'The Crow' stage matches that are decided with the use of numerous dangerous items including tables, chairs, barbed wire, light tubes, shovels, chains, hammers, etc.


Hardcore wrestling is a form of professional wrestling where disqualifications, count-outs, and all other different rules do not apply.


Twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursday, the amateur wrestlers gather at the Brakpan Community Hall to train for their next fights. Newcomers are welcome as the sport tries to grow its numbers of wrestlers. Starting with warm-up exercises including sprints and fireman’s carry, they end each session with full wrestling moves including throws, neck locks, etc.


Brakpan, a formerly affluent gold-mining town in the East Rand region, has fallen on hard times and with unemployment on the rise, the regular amateur wrestling nights the Brakpan Community Hall offer the local fans escapism from daily life.


Praying together before their matches, the wrestlers take on their ring 'persona' by putting on face paint or masks, wearing unique outfits and 'becoming' the persona their have decided to use.


With a beer on their hand and adrenalin running through their veins the small but passionate crowds follow every fight with all their energy. Children are amazed and frightened at the sight of these huge men wrestling in front of them.


Ultimately though the wrestlers love what they are doing and their fights and training are an escape from the real world and stresses that go with it.


Attention editors: the pictures of the photo essay were converted to black and white and are available in color in our archive on