Scots wrestling stalwart backs tell-all report into UK industry’s sex abuse scandal

12th April, 2021 10:20 am

An All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Professional Wrestling in Great Britain looked at how wrestling operates through the UK following allegations of misconduct.

A Scots wrestling stalwart has backed a new Westminster report amid sexual harassment scandals in the sport.

An All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Professional Wrestling in Great Britain looked at how wrestling operates through the UK.

We told last June how a Scots wrestling company appointed a new all-female management team after their co-founder resigned following claims of sexual harassment and assault against women.

Glasgow based Fierce Females said they would introduce new safety measures to make the sport a ‘safe space’ after former boss Mikey Whiplash resigned.

Several allegations were made against him.

Whiplash, whose real name is Michael John Gilbert, issued an apology and admitted grabbing a woman by the throat and sending inappropriate messages to another young lady.

 

There have been numerous other allegations of inappropriate behaviour across wrestling in the UK.

The tell-all report also warns of the potential danger of child sex abuse in wrestling and calls for a body to oversee the industry.

One of the main recommendations of the report reads: “Wrestling’s own MeToo movement, known as SpeakingOut, highlighted stories of sexual abuse, assault and predation.

“The report makes a number of recommendations in response to the movement, including hardwiring the voice of abuse survivors into British wrestling, the development of practical guides for first responders and working to establish case management systems to address allegations of abuse.”

The report also commented that wrestling ‘fell between sport and theatre’ and that health and safety standards across the UK were ‘worryingly low’.

It added: “Wrestling training schools have insufficient protections in place, particularly given they are regularly working with minors.

“The report recommends that, as is proposed under current legislation, sports coaches be recognised as a position of trust for the purposes of child sexual offences and that wrestling coaches be considered sports coaches for this purpose.

“A number of interim steps in relation to safeguarding and data protection are also proposed.

“The wrestling industry suffers from a lack of official representation, and the report recommends the establishment of trade bodies to more effectively promote British wrestling.”

The report has been welcomed by Len Ironside, from Aberdeen, who was well known in British wrestling through the 1970s and early 80s winning numerous titles.

He now helps mentor some up and coming talent including Scots grappler Leo King who trains in the states.

A former city councillor, Len put forward a five page submission to the committee before they completed their report.

He said he welcomed that some of his suggestions had been taken onboard.

He said: “I’m mostly really pleased with the report- like any sport or entertainment we don’t want people getting badly hurt or being in dangerous situations.

“We have had some shocking stories of abuse and you hear that in other sports like football and gymnastics too.

“A lot of women and young men have been harassed and upset by the way they’ve been treated and that should absolutely never happen.

“I’m glad these recommendations have been taken on and I will be keeping a close eye on them going forward.”

The Co-chairs Alex Davies-Jones MP and Mark Fletcher MP said: “We are delighted to take what we hope will be a first step towards strengthening and improving the British wrestling industry which brings joy to so many people, ourselves included.

“We don’t do reports that sit on a shelf and look forward putting our recommendations into action in the coming weeks.”

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston MP said: “The Government welcomes the APPG’s report and will be carefully considering its findings. We want to see a successful wrestling industry for its participants and many fans right across the country.”

Shadow Sports Minister Alison McGovern MP said: “This is a detailed report covering both the performance and sporting aspects of wrestling that many love dearly, but which also have long standing issues that need attention.

“The APPG have done a great piece of work here, and I hope DCMS will look at it closely.”

 

Source: Daily Record, April 2021

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