“I’m Greg, and I co-founded the pro wrestling school Grapple MAX with my business partner and fellow wrestler Dennis ‘The Ladykiller’. Many call me the hardest working man in the industry because of my drive to promote pro wrestling as a mainstream lifestyle in the region.
I got into wrestling when I was four, thanks to my dad. Even though I’ve been watching it since the Hulk Hogan era, I was always more interested in the mid-tier guys who were known for their high work rates.
I’m talking about your Mr. Perfects and your Dean Malenkos. They’re not always flashy, but they’re known for their technical excellence, and that’s how I’ve always identified my character.
Before I founded Grapple MAX, I had a full-time corporate job at Changi Airport Group; I was just wrestling recreationally during that time. But after over four years of working there, I decided to take this passion of mine more seriously.
To be more specific, I had great respect for the Japanese style of pro wrestling, and wanted to find a way to pursue this full-time.
I had enough savings to survive comfortably for about a year, and discovered then that an accomplished and recently-retired Japanese wrestler named Dick Togo had set up a wrestling school in Vietnam. Before long, I reached out to Togo, and made the decision to quit my job and fly to Da Nang.
At the time, it was just myself and one other student from Japan training there. We trained six hours a day, six days a week. I would wake up at seven every morning, do weights from 10am to 12pm, have a heavy lunch, go to sleep, then continue my wrestling training from 6pm to 10pm.
Through my training stint there, I realised that there was a massive gap in Singapore for quality coaches and training standards. I learnt so much in the span of four weeks; what sort of young talent would we be able to generate with a permanent facility here?
Upon returning to Singapore, Dennis and I went on to put together a team and business model, engaged Togo as our Head Advisor, and started the company with only a $20k capital. We now have over 40 members, and we’ve put on 18 performances in just 19 months.
There is definitely potential to groom pro wrestlers here, and that has been one of my proudest achievements with Grapple MAX – creating opportunities and opening doors for other people to explore their passions.
In fact, we recently became the first Singaporean company to put on our own show in Japan, a groundbreaking step forward for our local industry.
I’ve got some cool cases of students who started off with zero interest to perform, and now they’re some of our most popular performers. Seeing their transition and transformation is very satisfying for me.
Right now, I want to make pro wrestling a viable lifestyle option in Singapore. The problem is that there are just too many options for entertainment in this country, and the attention span is also very short here.
That is why our goal at Grapple MAX is to find ways to deconstruct the wrestling experience. We don’t want to target specifically wrestling fans alone. We’re not an insular secret fan club. In fact, we do the complete opposite.
What do you do on a Friday night? Where do you and your friends hang out? Do you catch a movie? Watch a band perform in a bar? I’ve always questioned why wrestling can’t be in the same conversation.
Our shows are like nothing else on the market. You go for one show and say, ‘Woah, this is interesting! I’ve never seen anything like it before.’ I mean, we’ve worked with the Singapore Night Festival where the audience could control the wrestlers in an arcade-like format.
We’ve also done a live poetry-wrestling mash-up called Sing Lit Body Slam. Wrestling and poetry are two worlds that don’t usually collide, but by the end of the night, these literature folks were trading chants with the wrestling fans!
We just need them to go through the door once. Once they see that we’re not a bunch of people who are trying to emulate what they see on WWE, and that we’re just a bunch of hardworking people training to entertain, they’ll want to come back and be a part of this.” – Greg, 36
Interview by: Arman Shah