Rotherham wrestler Lee shows his steel

DARKNESS will descend on the ring when Rotherham wrestler Lee Phillips assumes the character of his terrifying alter-ego to wow crowds in his home town for the first time.

The 38-year-old steelworker from East Dene will pull on the all-black costume of his WWE idol The Undertaker when he takes to the ring at Rotherham Trades Club on Saturday evening.

And he is sure to unleash special moves like the “choke slam” and “the tombstone” on his opponents as he performs in front of a home crowd for the first time after more than 18 years in the sport.

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He said: “The Undertaker is one of the most intimidating characters in wrestling.

“I love getting into character and performing for a crowd and it’ll be great to be in Rotherham.”

Lee started wrestling as the golden age of British wrestling drew to an end.

A regular at bouts, he got involved after meeting promoter Max Crabtree — brother of the legendary Shirley Crabtree, a.k.a. Big Daddy — and has never looked back.

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But after competing as himself for several years, the changing world of wrestling prompted Lee to re-learn his skills to assume a more American style.

He decided to complete the transition by assuming a new character — that of The Undertaker.

Lee said: “I had to re-learn wrestling.

“All the British stuff went out of the window and I had to perfect the character and his moves, including the choke slam and the tombstone.”

The American-style wrestling now popular with fans has caused headaches for the organisers of this weekend’s event at the Trades Club, Megaslam Wrestling.

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Originally destined for Rotherham United’s New York Stadium, the event switched location due to height restrictions that could restrict high-flying wrestlers.

And the sport’s relentlessly physical nature has taken its toll on Lee, too.

He revealed: “I was out of the sport for three or four years until quite recently.

“I’d been wrestling five nights a week and my body needed the rest.

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“I’ve had my shoulder put out of joint and once given four stitches, literally, by a guy who caught me in the ring.

“It was either take care of it with a needle and thread in the hotel room or spend a night at A&E in Glasgow and I ended up settling for the latter.”

Battle-hardened Lee will be joined on Saturday night’s bill by relative wrestling newcomer, Alan Beresford, who will appear among a host of colourful wrestling characters.

The 29-year-old claims that wrestling turned his life around after a relationship breakdown and the loss of his job.

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The mad-keen Rotherham United fan took to drink at his lowest ebb in 2011, consuming around eight pints of ale most days, but now competes as Tuff Nut Tyson. He said: “Back in 2011, I was depressed and drinking way too much.

“It was my key worker that asked me if there was anything I’d really fancied doing and I said wrestling.

“I never thought it would come to anything but after getting involved with Megaslam Wrestling I’ve turned my life around.

“I’m still new to the sport and have a lot to learn, but I love it.

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“I don’t drink at all now. I watch my diet and I have to focus on being fit.”

Doors open at 7pm for Saturday night’s UWE Megaslam Wrestling show .

Tickets are available on the night priced at £10. One child gains free access with each paying adult.


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