Many pro wrestlers choose to enter the ring because of a connection to the industry cultivated at a young age. Whether brought to it by family, friends, or that one defining character that speaks to them, the love needed to throw one’s body around gets embedded early.
But not every wrestler takes that familiar path. Such was the case for non-binary wrestler Sophie King. The Heckboy is a rising star on the U.S. independent scene, but their promising career spawned from dark experiences all too familiar with underpriviliged LGBTQ youth.
“I actually started watching wrestling when I was 20 or 21, because I was homeless,” King told Outsports. “A friend of mine would have a bunch of people over for a watch party to watch Monday Night Raw every week. And I just saw it as a guaranteed couch to be able to sleep on because her mom didn’t care that people then spent the night.”
What began as a way to escape hardship for a night soon sprouted the same desire that draws many to the wrestling world. “I just kind of fell in love with it. I was like this is this is absolutely ridiculous. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Show me more,” King exclaimed, adding, “I just became very emotionally attached partly because it’s now rooted in my brain to a sense of comfort and home.”
That emotional attachment drove them to train despite the inherent difficulties a non-binary person, someone whose gender identity doesn’t fall on the male-female gender binary, would face in an industry divided along that same gender binary. Especially when one’s goal is to work for SHIMMER, a promotion that exclusively features women wrestlers.
“I fell in love with SHIMMER super duper early. And then it’s like, Ah, I’m not strictly a woman. It’s like ‘SHIMMER: women athletes’, and I’m like, uh, asterisk,” King said. “I politically would call myself a woman because I have the lived experiences and I can relate most to that experience. But, when it comes down to the core of my identity, I [identify] as non binary.”
“I’ve had to deal with, you know, sexism and all that grossness and what comes with having what we call a female body. So, I thought, ‘maybe my odds are still better than like that dude next to me of making shimmer,’” King said. “But what if we really get into the into the fine print in the footnotes here and I can’t do it?”
While they “stan” RISE, their admitted “second home”, SHIMMER remained one of King’s driving goals. Luckily, the fine print and footnotes wouldn’t be needed as Sophie King made their SHIMMER debut on November 3. The culmination of that journey further solidified the home King crafted for themself within pro wrestling.
Hey so. I did a thing today. And that thing means the world to me. https://t.co/k8Z32jEYVI— Sophie King: Heckboy (@SophieKingPW) November 3, 2019
“For over a year now, my phone background has been the SHIMMER title belt as just sort of a reminder of why I want to keep pushing every single day. So, getting to make my debut, even in just a dark match, oh my god, it meant the whole entire world to me. It was just so much validation in that moment.”
Check out the entire interview with Sophie King and discussion on LGBTQ pro wrestling on this week’s episode of Outsports’ LGBT in the Ring podcast. Download new episodes every Thursday on Apple, Spotify, Spreaker, Castbox or Player FM podcast platforms.