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Rhia O’Reilly: The Cally’s role model wrestler

PUBLISHED: 11:55 01 August 2017

Cally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Oli Sandler/Pro Wrestling Eve

Cally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Oli Sandler/Pro Wrestling Eve

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Cally woman Rhia Docherty is on a mission to ‘Rhia-djust’ people’s perceptions of female wrestling. A champion herself, she speaks to the Gazette.

Cally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Oli Sandler/Pro Wrestling Eve Cally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Oli Sandler/Pro Wrestling Eve

Fresh out of university, Rhia Docherty didn’t know what to do with her life. Then the idea hit: become a professional wrestler.

Known in the wrestling world by her Rhia O’Reilly stage name, she is famous for her “Rhia-djuster” special move: hooking her opponent’s arms and dropping them head first to the deck.

Rhia, of Matilda Street off Caledonian Road, is a two-time champion of Pro Wrestling Eve, a feminist punk rock wrestling company that tours the country.

When she is not pummelling her victims to the floor, Rhia, 32, also flies the flag for female wrestling.

She recently won at the Rising Star Awards, which celebrates women role models across all professions and industries. In the sport category, she won for her work promoting the sport as spokesperson for Pro Wrestling Eve.

She told the Gazette: “I promote it as a safe space for everyone. It’s not just screaming at each other! Women are seen as second-class compared to male wrestlers. But the gap is being bridged.

Cally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Roger Alarcon/Pro Wrestling EveCally wrestler Rhia O'Reilly. Picture: Roger Alarcon/Pro Wrestling Eve

“Lots of people don’t acknowledge wrestling as a sport or entertainment. No one wants to take ownership of us. So it was amazing to get the award and recognition from an outside field.”

Rhia, who also works on the fundraising team for the Big Issue Foundation, loves wrestling because of the “escapism” she feels in the ring.

“People come to a show and completely get lost in it,” she said. “It gives you confidence and strength.”

Her first match was in 2010. It was the culmination of a far-fetched childhood dream: “I really enjoyed watching wrestling on TV. I finished university and didn’t really know what to do. But I did know that I wanted to do something that I’d enjoy for the rest of my life.

“So I temporarily moved to Canada and trained to become a wrestler. I did an intensive three-month course. My body was in absolute shock! I was never particularly active at school or university, so it was a huge step up. There were times when I thought: ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this.’

“It paid off in my first ever match for Pro Wrestling Eve seven years ago. I’ve since been their champion twice, and travelled all over America and Canada. It’s the most amazing world.”

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