It’s not every day that an electrician in his mid-30s decides to enter the ring as a first-time wrestler.
But that’s exactly what Parm Singh Athwal did three years ago, and he’s become a highlight of the All Star Wrestling shows staged in Cloverdale and elsewhere in Metro Vancouver.
As “The Thunder from Jalandhar,” Athwal dons a turban and traditional Indian garb before making his entrance, with lights flashing and crowds reacting.
Fellow Surrey-area resident Mark Vellios, who runs the wrestling organization, asked Athwal if he’d get dressed that way, and Athwal, now 38, made his All Star Wrestling debut three years ago in Abbotsford — on Sept. 22, 2016, to be exact.
“I figured it’s the right place to do it, and it couldn’t have been better,” said Atwal, who lives in the Cedar Hills neighbourhood.
“I was very nervous at first, the first time, and when I came out the crowd loved it,” added the Edmonton-born grappler, who has also lived in Vancouver. “The first day it took off right away, and even the wrestlers in the back, when I had all my gear on, all the traditional (Indian) clothing, they said, ‘Wow, you look great.’ And the minute I went out, I got a big cheer. That usually does not happen very often on the first night like that.”
At the Alice Mckay building in Cloverdale, Atwal made his wrestling debut a couple of months later, with a similar reaction.
“It was amazing,” he recalled. “I still have video of it and the crowd goes wild again. I think we knew that day that we had something there.”
He’ll return to the arena at Cloverdale Fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 25, this time as part of a “Summer Heatwave III” show that features several Girls Gone Wrestling matches. That night, The Thunder from Jalandhar and Odin Rex, as the Allied Powers, will take on Team USA in a “Tag-Team Warfare” main event.
Athwal is currently a tag-team champ with the family-friendly All Star Wrestling, and also holds the circuit’s Trans Canada heavyweight belt, after beating rival Azeem the Dream in a match last December.
Athwal, who runs Athwal Bros. Electric., and frequently promotes wrestling shows on its Twitter feed, said he gives all of his earnings to the homeless.
“The money I get, I donate to, you know, homeless people,” he said. “I’ll go out and buy them food — in Vancouver, Surrey, where they have the tents set up in Maple Ridge, depending on where I am, and those are the places I know. So when I’m there I’ll grab whatever I can — coffee, doughnuts, pizzas, burgers, and hand them out.
“The reason why I do this, from the beginning, is because I’m very fortunate to have good health, be able to do what I’m doing, you know,” he added. “People take things for granted and forget about the other ones. I was raised that way, to always help people out.”
Unlike some other local wrestlers, Athwal keeps everything local.
“A lot of guys travel down to the States and into the Interior to wrestle, or the Island, and get out there more, but for me it’s strictly All Star Wrestling, just because I have to focus on work at the same time,” said Athwal. “It’s a hobby for me, and always will be.”
Asked about the demands of being in a wrestling ring for a guy his age, Athwal said it doesn’t matter to him.
“I got into wrestling a bit late, just three years ago, but I eat really well and train every day, and I keep in shape and it really helps me,” he replied. “Age to me is just a number so far, and my body’s responding really well. Even with work, it’s really physical and demanding mentally and physically, and I’m doing fine.”
Vellios, best known as the boa-adorned Gorgeous Michelle Starr, helped train Athwal as a wrestler.
“Parm is the hardest working champion we have ever had,” Vellios told the Now-Leader. “He goes out of his way to get involved with the community. He let’s fans all over take pictures with a him and the championship belt. He is a very honorable and respected champion and is proud of his Indo-Canadian heritage.”
For more details about “Summer Heatwave III,” including tickets, visit allstar-wrestling.com, or call 604-710-0872.