Another pro-wrestling first went down on Saturday afternoon as out pro wrestler Erica Leigh became the first woman and out LGBTQ wrestler to capture the East Coast Wrestling Association Heavyweight championship in the company’s 55-year history.
Leigh’s win came during the main event of ECWA’s Pretzelmania V event in New Jersey, where she defeated multi-time champion Sam Shields in her third match of the day. She lost in the first round of the ECWA Tag Team Super 8 Tournament alongside tag team partner Boar before successfully defending her ECWA Legacy title against Joey Martinez.
The win caps off an eventful year for Leigh in the ECWA. She reached the finals of the ECWA Super 8 tournament, one of the more historic annual tournaments in the independent wrestling world, before falling to Darius Carter. She followed that up by winning the ECWA Legacy title in April and winning the ECWA Women’s Super 8 Tournament in August.
That Women’s Super 8 win played a key role in Saturday’s crowning moment. Shields was scheduled to face the Super 8 winner, which most believed would be Carter, but Leigh answered the challenge instead as a fellow Super 8 winner.
“I am unstoppable. I am the moment,” Leigh said in an Instagram post showing her posing with her titles and the Women’s Super 8 trophy.
While she is the first wrestler to win the ECWA Heavyweight title as an out athlete, Leigh is the second known LGBTQ wrestler to ever hold the title. Current New Japan Pro Wrestling Strong Openweight champion Fred Rosser held the title twice between 2005-08, with his final reign ending five years before he came out publicly as gay while wrestling for WWE.