I'd be offended if a guy went easy on me, reveals Northern Ireland's only female wrestler as she prepares to defend title
Northern Ireland's only female wrestler will take to the ring tonight to defend her hard won Women's Championship title.
Lauren Cruickshank (28) - aka Lauren La Roux - will take on her long-time rival Raven Creed at the Goldrush event at Boucher Road's S13 for the Pro-Wrestling Ulster (PWU) belt.
The Coalisland native, who first took up the sport in 2013, says she hopes the rise in popularity in female wrestling in Northern Ireland will continue.
She says it's been a long road from her teenage years, when she was told that wrestling was 'not for girls'.
"I've always watched wrestling when I was younger," she said.
"And then I went to an all-girls school, I got out of it very quickly. It wasn't really the done thing for a girl to watch wrestling.
"But then I started to go out with my boyfriend Tim. He would watch it and I got back into then.
"The two of us decided to go to a local show run by PWU and they offered the training school. We both signed up and the rest is history."
Lauren said it took guts to succeed in what is traditionally seen as a male dominated sport.
"I don't like the saying 'fight like a girl'," she adds. "I was the only girl for a long time training with the guys.
"Some of these guys are big, they are heavy and you share a ring with them. If a guy was to go easy on me I'd actually be offended by it.
"You have to be tough to be a wrestler. But when you have that passion for something you'll stick it out. It's the one thing that I always say to any girl that starts wrestling, that your body is going to be so sore.
"But you'd be surprised at how quickly you get used to it, especially on a show day when the adrenaline is going. If you're in the ring you might take a knock, think that didn't go to plan, but you don't feel the pain.
"That is until the adrenaline wears off and then it hits you. But it's worth it. The reaction of the fans is priceless.
"They are such a good group of people and you always want to put on a good show for them."
Lauren says she has dreams to conquer England, then to one day shine in the Holy Grail of wrestling, WWE.
"I think anyone who gets into a wrestling ring gets in there because they watched and loved WWE," she said.
"And obviously it would be a dream for everyone, whether they would admit it or not, to get there. But my main goal at the minute is to get into mainland England.
"I just set realistic goals and take one step at a time. It's more about getting yourself out there and noticed."
Lauren is looking forward to tonight's Goldrush match and says as long as three VIPs are in the audience, she'll be OK.
"I'm defending my PWU Women's Championship title against Raven Creed from Cork," she says. "I have wrestled her a few times and worked with her. It should be a good match. And we also have a second female match on the card as well, which is a massive achievement.
"My mum and dad will be there, and my sister is coming too. Mum and dad never miss a show now. Mum had some reservations at the start about me wrestling, but now they love it, they always come to the shows.
"I love having my family there. My main two are my mum and dad and as long as they are there I'm OK."