Which wrestling movement hurts the most

European wrestling champion Karsten Kretschmer explains why his sport is dangerous

Millions of television viewers know wrestling as spectacular entertainment. But the show can become deadly serious, as in the case of Perro Ramirez, who died in a fight in Mexico. European wrestling champion Karsten Kretschmer explains why his sport is always associated with risk.

First time wrestling, you might be reminded of a Bud Spencer movie. The good fight the bad, there is a lot going on, but in reality nobody gets hurt. But the image of wrestling as a pure entertainment show is deceptive: the pain is real here. The men and women in the ring are extreme athletes. Like stuntmen, but without any safeguards - one wrong move can be fatal.

The Mexican star Pedro Aguayo Ramirez died a few days ago, breaking his neck after being kicked by his opponent. According to the Mexican media, everything points to a tragic accident: It was not the dropkick by opponent Rey Misterio that was fatal, but the unfortunate impact of the head on the steel cables.

Karsten Kretschmer has seen a lot of injuries in his 21 years as a wrestler, but not something that bad yet. "Fortunately," he continues afterwards. Kretschmer is the most famous German wrestler, he holds the European title of the Professional Wrestling Alliance PWA. He believes a lot of people have the wrong idea of ​​wrestling. "A lot of people think we're doing theater," says Kretschmer. "They are not sure what a complex thing it is. Wrestling is a high-performance sport."

Injuries like boxing

A high-performance sport in which fatal accidents occur again and again - rarely, but there is a risk. "Highly trained athletes go into the ring - and each of them puts their life on the line," says Karsten Kretschmer. There are no precise statistics about how many wrestlers died in the ring, but there are prominent cases: Owen Hart, for example, the brother of the legendary Bret "Hitman" Hart, died in 1999 in an unfortunate stunt. He was supposed to float into the ring from the ceiling of the hall, but the rope came loose too early, Hart fell into the ring from a height of 24 meters and died.

Even if the rough "storyline" of the fights is mostly discussed - the kicks and punches are real. That's why the athletes learn how to fall correctly and catch hits. That doesn't always help. In Austria, a 23-year-old fighter fell into a coma three weeks ago. His head hit the hard ring floor when he was thrown, suffered a traumatic brain injury and injuries to his lungs. As in boxing, the typical damage mainly includes concussions; according to studies, a third of injuries affect the head and neck.

The history of injuries in wrestling also includes the widespread misuse of drugs: often only drugs help against pain. Steroids to build muscle, amphetamines to get fit, coke to fight - if you read the biographies of the legends of the WWF, you will often find these ingredients. Many wrestlers are similar in death as well. Most of them are heart attacks at a very early age, like "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who died at the age of 58, or the "Ultimate Warrior", whose heart failed at the age of 54.

The remaining risk is fighting along

"Perro" Aguayo was 35 years old when he died in the ring. He was a professional, just like his opponent Rey Mysterio. He had decades of experience, he has practiced all movements hundreds of times, has learned to set kicks himself and to catch them. But there is always a residual risk, explains European champion Karsten Kretschmer: "You can't choreograph a fight through. There is always improvisation."

In Mexico in particular, things are sometimes quite chaotic. Four athletes were involved in the fatal match, and the fighters have to react in a split second. Mexican wrestling is also much more acrobatic than in Germany, explains Kretschmer. "The fighters like to take a break on the ropes." That's why the other fighters didn't even notice how bad things were with "Perro" Aguayo, who was hanging lifeless on the ropes.

Karsten Kretschmer has always been lucky so far. Twice, he says, he has already fallen on his neck, but got away with whiplash injuries. The most important thing in this case too: hard training. "Without well-trained muscles, you have no business in the ring." Kretschmer has already experienced a knockout: "When I got a dropkick, my foot fell

The rope tangled and I fell sideways on my temple. "If something goes wrong, a fighter in Germany is in greater danger than in the big leagues in Mexico and the USA. that is priceless in this country. Only a paramedic is always on site.

But even if a fight goes as planned - there is not a single one from which it goes out without any wounds, says Kretschmer. At 40 years of age, he feels the pain every morning. "But that's the case with all competitive athletes. In handball, basketball, and football. It sounds martial, but: You give your body to the delight of the audience."