He’s introduced Queenstown to pro wrestling and is now on the eve of the biggest show of his life. Marc ‘Hooligan Marcus Kool’ Perry explains why wrestling’s got such hold on him to Philip Chandler.
It’s hard to grasp but this Saturday a Queenstowner’s co-organising New Zealand’s biggest independent pro wrestling show.
Marc Perry – who’ll fight world-leading English wrestler Will Ospreay in his biggest bout ever – started Southern Pro Wrestling NZ with Southland accountant/wrestler Tony Crosbie just three years ago.
Apart from staging several shows in Queenstown and Invercargill, the pair have promoted the club worldwide through a documentary and an on-demand channel.
But with Saturday’s ‘Southern Rumble’ at Invercargill’s ILT Stadium Southland, they’re about to pull off their biggest coup.
While hoping for a crowd of 1500, “when we hit 1000, it’s the biggest NZ independent wrestling show in history,” Perry says.
“It’s happening in Invercargill but the idea all came from here and there are a lot of people from Queenstown involved in the show.”
Perry’s story, however, starts in England where he grew up playing football, and even had a few trials for his home club, Birmingham City, and London’s Aston Villa.
“My old man’s a massive football fan, but when I was 13 I came home one day and said I wanted to give wrestling a go and didn’t want to go to football training.
“He looked at me like I was mental.”
After training in amateur and Olympic-style wrestling, Perry became a pro wrestler when he left school at 16.
“I was just so interested in the over-the-top characters and what they did.
“I really liked physicality, but I also really liked the showmanship.”
Perry fought in England and Europe, then at about 20 took off backpacking around the world.
“I had a lot of friends who told me how amazing NZ was.
“They were all based in Queenstown and they said, ‘you’ve got to come over here, it’s insane’.”
Queenstown’s been good to him. For his first five years he did sales work for skydive company NZONE, before taking the same role with AJ Hackett Bungy.
He and his wife bought and built early at Shotover Country and they have a 16-month-old daughter and another child on the way.
But it’s his wrestling exploits that have won him a following, under the persona ‘Hooligan Marcus Kool’.
“That comes from the people I don’t like in football – the hooligans and loud mouths.
“I’m the bad guy everywhere else, people hate me, but in Queenstown I’m just liked because we’re in Queenstown.”
Perry confirms the results of pro wrestling bouts are predetermined.
“It’s mainly storyline-driven, so it depends where my character sits. Currently, the storyline is I’m on a losing streak leading up to this big stadium show.”
That includes last month’s annual Queenstown WrestleFest show, where he lost to his Invercargill protege Josh ‘JK’ Moody in an NZ heavyweight title fight.
However, he doesn’t like people using the word ‘fake’.
“There’s nothing ‘fake’ about everything that goes into it.
“I describe it as a live stunt show – there’s risk-taking and there’s elements of danger.
“Ideally you want to get out uninjured, but there’s going to be a few bumps and bruises.”
And he has to remain very fit, which is why he’s at the gym five times a week.
Apart from weak ankles – “I broke both, really early on” – he maintains he’s in good nick.
Now 30, he says “I’m well into health and fitness so I’ve got a good 10 years left in me, at least, I reckon.”
Because of his and Crosbie’s passion, professionalism, marketing nous and sheer hard work, their club’s become one of NZ’s most successful.
“It’s crazy how much it’s taken off and how much people have got into it.
“We have a working relationship with [world-leading pro wrestling promoter] WWE – if they come to NZ, we give them recommendations of who they should look out for.”
That’s opened up a whole lot of opportunity for NZ wrestlers, he says.