Tell us a bit about your early career. What made you want to be a wrestler, and when did you begin training? Are there particular wrestlers who have inspired you?
I was always pretty active as a youngster; I wanted to be a wrestler since I was around 8 or 9. But unlike most people, it wasn’t watching wrestling that got me into wrestling in the first place: that would be playing the video games – WWF WrestleMania on the Super Nintendo and later WWF Warzone on the Nintendo 64. I actually still have both games. The old games machines are still my favourites.
So after playing the games for years, one morning I saw it was on TV and thought I’d see what it was like. That was 1998 and I was hooked instantly. I was playing the games so it was easy for me to get into the shows, as I already knew who all the characters were before I even saw them wrestle on TV. It wasn’t until I started watching it on TV that I felt the desire to become a professional wrestler.
My favourite wrestler growing up was Chris Jericho. But as for my inspirations, I guess that would be the fellow students and the alumni of the FWA Academy where I trained. I saw what the students went on to achieve while I was still training and we as a group were inspired to be the absolute best we could; we were a real team and we all strived to achieve something special. Looking back at my Academy days, they still hold up as some of my fondest memories that I have in wrestling to this point.
How did the Lion Kid character and style develop?
Well, I was wrestling on the UK scene for a few years under my real name. Because of my young appearance, a few of my peers thought I might benefit from wrestling under a mask, but it wasn’t something that immediately took my interest.
However, in early 2009, I began to seriously think about reinventing myself, as you need to keep evolving. By then I was 20 years old and had physically matured, so looking too young wasn’t an issue. I then spoke with Dragon Gate UK promoter Mark Sloan. We put together ideas for a character, names, his look, his style, how to market etc, and we both began to realise that this had a lot of potential. Countless hours, resources and concepts were laid out before The Lion Kid made his official debut on November 1st 2009 as the opening match of Dragon Gate UK Invasion.
Tell us a little about your time in Japan. Is it somewhere you’d like to return to?
Getting taken to Japan was an amazing experience for me and definitely one I would be very honoured to repeat sometime in the future. After my match at the second Dragon Gate tour in 2010, I was approached by the Dragon Gate office and they offered me the chance to go out to Japan and train at their Dojo following the tour – I actually left just days after the tour to fly to Osaka. I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to be their first foreign attendee at the much- respected Dojo; it was a huge honour for me. I was there for three months, which was the maximum my visa would let me, but in reality would have loved to stay longer.
When I was there, most of the wrestlers and students spoke a good amount of English so the language barrier wasn’t huge. I studied the culture in small part before going, mostly the etiquette side, as I always wanted to be as respectful as possible.
But to be honest, I found it best just to observe their way of doing things and mimicking it, or if I was unsure I just asked someone politely. They were very understanding when it came to cultural differences and were happy to educate me and I am very glad they did. The whole trip was an amazing experience.
You seem to be one of the few UK indy scene regulars who isn’t all over social media and blogs – is that deliberate?
It is kind of deliberate: social media isn’t really my thing, to be honest. Everybody is always surprised to find out I am not on Facebook or Twitter. It’s just a bit impersonal for me; I’d rather speak to family, friends or fans face to face. I also have a busy schedule, so I don’t have a lot of free time for everything I would like to do. So if I was to make the jump to a social media platform I would like to have it done properly, not half-heartedly.
Time-machine permitting, who are your dream opponents?
That’s tough, I think I could name names all day. I would love to travel back to glory era of British Wrestling, which many people call the World of Sport days. The old school British light-weight wrestling is some of my favourite to watch. To trade holds with Steve Grey would be very cool, he was so quick and smooth. Even just to go a few rounds with him would be a lot of fun and a huge learning experience for me. I would also have to travel back and complete against true Japanese legends. Wrestling Hayabusa or Jushin Liger while they were in their prime would be as close to a dream match situation for me.
On the flip side of the time machine scenario, I could travel forward in time. I think it would be interesting to see how the wrestling scene has evolved 10, 20, even 50 years in future.
What are your plans for the rest of the year, and where can UK fans see you next?
Well, I spent the final three months of 2010 out in Japan with Dragon Gate, and then I spent 45+ weekends of 2011 wrestling in France for their largest group. So this year I would like to reconnect with the UK fans. At this time my next UK appearance will be 28th April at the Troxy in London for the IPW:UK/NWE joint show. I love working for IPW:UK and I have just arrived back from my first tour of Italy with NWE. So from my point of view, them working together should make it an exciting event.
The first six weeks of this year I was recovering from a back injury. So now most of my short-term goals involve getting back to training. I always want to give 100 per cent no matter what the show, crowd or opponent. So this year I am concentrating on training and improving my in-ring ability and getting into better physical condition.
Also this year I also have my first DVD release which I am really excited about: it’s on pre-order right now at lionkid.com but due to release late next month.
Many thanks for your time!
My pleasure, thanks for having me.