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WrestleFest DXB power slams into the hearts of UAE wrestling fans

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Wrestling events have dramatically grown in popularity in Dubai.
Wrestling events have dramatically grown in popularity in Dubai.   -   Copyright  Euronews
By Evan Bourke  & Sarah Hedley Hymers

Diving armbreakers, inverted atomic drops and iron claw slams are just some of the moves performed in the ring. Part sport, part entertainment, wrestling is a theatrical battle – and it's bringing competitors together in Dubai.

Now in its second year, WrestleFest DXB hosts monthly events and live matches in a converted warehouse in Dubai's Al Quoz industrial estate. Audiences have grown from 20 people to 200 since its inception.

One of the WrestleFest DXB organisers, Mohammad Al Shehhi (stage name Shaheen – which means falcon in Arabic), is the first Emirati wrestler to represent the UAE overseas. At home in Dubai, he's impressed by the diversity of WrestleFest DXB participants.

"We've got people from all around the world," he says. "For them to be able to connect with this discipline and form that camaraderie within training, within shows, that's just mind-blowing to me."

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Victorious Shaheen with a winning belt.Euronews

Shaheen feels that the WrestleFest DXB training is a powerful team-building practice. "Trust is a key component of training itself," he says. "That's why we have drills on how to protect your opponent and how to protect yourself. All of these are key components when it comes to the art of professional wrestling."

WrestleFest DXB participant Nova Nox from Canada agrees: "Trust is a big factor when it comes to pro wrestling. It's not just a 'you' sport, it's a multi-man situation. You all have to work together towards a common goal, trust one another and get familiar with one another, because without that you really can't do much."

With bruising encounters featuring grappling holds, throws and takedowns, injury is a serious risk, despite the choreography, and wrestlers put their safety in each other's hands in the ring.

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High flying moves often lead to injuries.Euronews

"This is professional wrestling,' says fellow British wrestler Jay Lamrod. "It's unique, the combination of sport and theatre. It's a combination of storytelling and athletics."

As a member of WrestleFest DXB, Lamrod relishes the melting-pot culture he's found there. "Everyone is individual here. We come from all over the world, we all have different backgrounds, and we all bring different things in terms of our own athletic ability and characters, which we incorporate into the live shows."

To find out how to join the baying crowds at the next live show, stay tuned towww.instagram.com/wrestlefestdxb

For more, please visit the Destination Dubai hub on Euronews.com