Grainne Glenny gets to grips with Pro Wrestling Ulster’s Luther Valentine, one of Belfast’s most recognisable athletes in advance of his upcoming PWU SuperShow at the Europa Hotel on October 18.
Fresh from his stint on ITV’s hit show, Ninja Warrior UK, Luther explains what life is like rubbing shoulders with sporting legends such as Chris Kamara and a host of WWE legends such as Al Snow and Drew Galloway.
Best known for breakin’ hearts and body parts, Luther lets his guard way down and shares his deepest darkest secrets in this entertaining interview and talks chocolate fudge cake, Westlife and rom-coms with a little bit of macho for good measure.
Photos by Michael Barbour/2nd Shooter
What was your journey like to get to this point?
It was an unexpected one which is funny considering it is such a big part of my life now. I have loved wrestling since I was a kid, always jumping about my living room and having matches with my friends in the garden, but as I got older it never struck me as something you could realistically build on.
When I finished university three years ago, I was looking for an enjoyable outlet to de-stress and luckily enough I stumbled upon an advert offering to teach young bucks like myself how to wrestle. I got in touch straight away and the rest is history as they say!
Who are your wrestling inspirations?
There are a lot of wrestlers who have inspired me, guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were big influences for me. These guys were just so entertaining. When they were on screen it was always must see TV and I always try bring that same entertainment to the fans when I’m in the ring. At the end of the day if we are not putting on a great show that gets people excited, then we aren’t doing our jobs. I always stick to that simple philosophy which makes sure it is fun for the fans. Recently at a PWU show I was in the ring with Al Snow competing for a title which was incredibly inspiring and a very encouraging opportunity.
You are currently in training for Pro Wrestling Ulster’s Supershow on October 18, how does your training regime change in the lead up to a fight?
Well I always try to stay in the best shape possible but I do have a sweet tooth, and no matter who I face in the ring, my arch nemesis will always be Chocolate Fudge Cake & Custard.
When in the lead up to a big fight I know how important it is to be in perfect form. I get in as much ring time as possible down at the PWU Origin Training Academy, which is a fantastic facility for any aspiring wrestler, no matter what level or age. On top of that, I am a big fan of the CrossFit philosophy and I like to get down to my local gym Reebok CrossFit Northern Ireland, which is easily the best facility in the country with the best coaches you could ask for. I might switch things up with an early morning run in the park or a session of yoga. Come show day, as long as I’ve been able to fend off the advances of chocolate cake, I am good to go.
What can people expect from the SuperShow?
PWU SuperShows have gone from strength to strength and are now in a top class event venue and selling hundreds of tickets each time. WWE stars like Benjamin Shelton, Al Snow and Evan Bourne are being added to the line-up. In my opinion they offer the most entertaining night out in the city. The best thing about them is that everybody regardless of age, gender, race or creed will get something out of it. When you come to a SuperShow you can guarantee that you will laugh, you will see great feats of athleticism and you will find yourself booing and cheering, even if you don’t want to be. PWU showcases some of the best wrestlers this side of the planet and these talents are offered at an extremely affordable price. The WWE shows can be extremely expensive so this is a fantastic viable alternative that is even more interactive and so not to be missed.
At this show I’ll be with my main man Magico facing up to wreckless trio, The Murder. Tron, a PWU favourite will be taking to the ring too, he is a 7ft monster and former WWE star so it’s quite literally, a big one.
Some of our readers might know you best from ITV’s hit show ‘Ninja Warrior UK’. You and some more of Belfast’s most loved wrestlers took part but fortunately didn’t come out on top. Nevertheless, presenter Chris Kamara was quite impressed with your ‘budgie smuggler’ and the media really loved you guys. How do you feel after the experience?
Haha, thanks for bringing that up. To be honest that was a great experience for me. It was a lot of fun, but I don’t think getting slammed through a table by Damien Corvin at a show the night before did me any favours. In the grand scheme of things, it was a great platform for me and the other guys to get our names out there. ITV even visited Belfast in the lead up to film ‘a day in the life’ type segment to accompany our slot on the show. There’s no doubt about it, the wrestlers were the most entertaining aspect of the show. As for Chris Kamara, I’m a huge fan of the guy so I’m happy to give him a bye-ball on his comment about my ‘budgie smugglers’.
Your entrance music is quite the crowd pleaser. What is the meaning behind it and where can fans find it?
The song is Mr Bombastic, a Shaggy classic but I use Forever Never’s version. It’s a lot nastier than the original. Picking a good entrance theme is so important because it serves to get your fans pumped up when you arrive. When I heard this, it was a no brainer. It is upbeat, recognisable, a bit cheeky and has the power to make people want to get loose. It’s a perfect reflection of Luther Valentine.
You can listen to the track on my personal playlist on Spotify.
Spotify is one our favourite apps here at belfastvibe. What app do you enjoy the most?
Oh great question. I have to admit I am a bit of a technophobe and pride myself on being a simple man but I do have a few apps that I can’t live without. Spotify is great for me, especially when I’m in the gym getting ready for a show. It keeps me focused and motivated. Another app that I use a lot and would recommend to everybody is MyFitnessPal. Although I’m not the strictest person with my diet, this app has proved invaluable for me because it has increased my knowledge on what foods are the most nutritious and has helped me make beneficial changes to my diet.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Well this could kill all my credibility, but I love nothing more than sitting down with a glass of red wine or a beer and watching a heart-warming rom-com or tear jerker. The most recent one I watched was a re-run of Marley and Me. I won’t spoil it for you but I may have cried for about four days afterwards.
You give so much away during your fights but fans only ever see the fierce side of you. Tell us a dark secret about yourself that will shock and awe.
I’m a big fan of Westlife! Praying for the reunion tour.
Finally, any advice for people interested in carving out a career in the ring?
My advice is to get yourself down to the PWU Origin Training centre and just give it a go. Everybody has to start somewhere and the hardest part is stepping through the door. Once you do that you will have a hell of a lot of fun and you will meet a lot of great like-minded people. So don’t think about it, just do it.
You can see Luther in the flesh at PWU’s Supershow at the Europa Hotel on October 18 at 6.30pm
Tickets priced at £10 general admission, VIP at £15 or £12 at the door. Tickets available from:
Fresh Garbage, Rosemary Street, Belfast
Igntion Piercing, Bridge Street, Lisburn
Or online at prowrestlingulster.co.uk