Mark Vellios

Pro wrestlers ready to face off

The Battle Royal takes over Hope Arena on July 16.

This Saturday night, Hope will be the “Wrestling Capital of B.C.” when All Star Wrestling rolls into town. The big show features five one-on-one matches, as well as the ultimate 10-man Battle Royal, where over 2,000 pounds of fighting flesh will gather in the ring at one time.

It has been quite a while since the last time the Hope Arena was used as a wrestling venue but All Star Wrestling promoter and part-owner, Mark Vellios said he prefers it over the Legion Hall, which also has been used.

“With the Legion Hall, we never drew much of a crowd,” said Vellios, a.k.a. Gorgeous Michelle Starr. “I think it was because of the smaller venue… people didn’t think it would be a big event.

“With the arena, we’ll be using the floor and the stands for seating,” added Vellios. “I’m hoping the people of Hope will come out and support it.

“It’s a family-friendly event,” he stressed. “There’ll be no foul language, rude gestures or scantily clad women.”

But no, it won’t start with an opening prayer either.

“There will be lots of hard hitting and good versus bad scenarios — and the Battle Royal is always exciting,” said Vellios. “It’s the last man standing in the ring. Everyone else has to be thrown out, over the top rope. It’s a concrete floor and I don’t know if we’ll have mats — but these guys know how to land.

“These guys and women are all trained and we’ll stress that to the kids. It’s meant as entertainment and we don’t recommend that people try this at home.”

All Star Wrestling runs a school in Surrey, where there are currently eight full-time students, said Vellios.

“Wrestling has changed over the years,” explained Vellios, who grew up in California but came to B.C. to wrestle in 1988 and has been here ever since. “We don’t wrestle like we used to, five or six days a week. Now, it’s more of a part-time hobby. The guys have other jobs. I work on the docks as a longshoreman.

“All the wrestlers on the card are B.C., based,” he added. “Most are from the Lower Mainland and some are coming down from Kelowna.”

Vellios was aware that pro wrestling veteran John Quinn and his wife Linda have been living in Hope since Quinn closed out his career in England in the late 1980s.

“He’s such a legend,” said Vellios. “In 2001, I went to England and the people were all asking about him. He was like a Hulk Hogan would be over here. Hopefully, he can make it out to our event.

“I think I may have been in John’s last match in Hope before he retired,” recalled Vellios.

“That’s quite possible,” said Quinn on Monday.

“They put me on the card and sucked me into taking part,” he said with a grin. “I was living right here — so what could I do?”

Quinn was pleased to hear of Vellios’ invitation and he hopes to be there… though he’ll stay in his chair, thank you.

Kim Richardson, Recreation Programmer for Hope and District Recreation and Cultural Services said, “Mark contacted me several months ago to see if we would be interested in hosting this event. It’s always good to offer something new for the community to participate in.

“We haven’t had an event like this in some time but there was little risk in offering the arena as a venue, since our ice doesn’t go in until August — so we thought , ‘Why not? Let’s give it a try.’

“We’re hopeful that the community will come out and support this event, which will give us encouragement to offer other events like this in the future,” said Richardson.

A final note to any little old ladies who might want to bring along some classic wrestling props:

“Tell them to bring their umbrellas and purses, so they can hit me!” said Vellios. “I’ve been a bad guy for years, so I’m used to that.”

No patio umbrellas, please.

Tickets are $12.00 for general seating and $15.00 ringside. Advance tickets are available at the Rec Centre. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30.