Bangor's wrestlemania Robinson sisters taking tag dream to Japan
These are the Bangor born tag team twins full of eastern promise and ready to rumble in the land of the rising sun.
Despite it being the country's most popular sport, Kelly and Leigh Robinson will be the first twins to wrestle as a tag team in the home of sumo and land of karate, writes Christopher Woodhouse.
For the 24-year-olds, the move to the Mecca of wrestling is the culmination of a life-long ambition to become professional wrestlers.
Kelly explained: “I got into wrestling very young, watching it with my dad and older brother.”
Leigh, who is currently wrestling in Glasgow before heading east, added: “We always grew up saying we were going to be wrestlers but Kelly believed it more, then she brought me back into it.”
The pair, who compete under the names Kasey and Leah Owens, eventually attracted the attention of Japanese wrestling promotions company IceRibbon when they saw videos of the twins wrestling in small events around the UK and Ireland.
“Some of the best female wrestlers are from Japan. If you go over and prove that you can train and do it, then you are definitely going to make a mark,” said Leigh.
It's not just a matter of pride for the twins to wrestle in Japan, it will also guarantee them more experience in the ring as they are two of just 30 female wrestlers in the UK.
Of her bouts in Japan, Kelly said: “I've taken part in more matches in one month than I have in the whole of last year.”
Their oriental adventure is the culmination of years of early starts and tough training at the school of hard knocks.
Leigh added: “You get the usual bumps, bruises and black eyes. I've had a concussion before when somebody spiked me in the ring, they just drove my head into the mat.
“I haven't broken any bones just yet, in the ring you try to be as serious as possible but accidents can happen.
“You want to make it look real but there are points where it can be a bit dangerous. There is a way to do things and if you don't do it that way, that's when you can get really hurt.”
However, during the week the pair are more used to golden arches than black eyes, as Kelly explained: “Everyone finds it quite funny, we are both shift managers in McDonald's.
“We both worked in the same store in Bangor, then I moved to Glasgow and I work in Parkhead but we still have the reputation of being the managers nobody messes with.”
Predictably, the pair are fitness fanatics.
Kelly said: “With any sport you have to be committed to being fit and healthy, I weight train throughout the week. When the wrestling school was opened by my mentor and trainer Alan Cunningham, we trained twice a week.
“I would love to do some fitness modelling, so most of my weight training is geared towards that side of things.”
Leigh added: “I train four days a week but we do quite a lot of weight training, it's quite hardcore as we'd be up quite early in the morning to do our training, do what we need to do during the day and maybe go back to the gym at night.
“A lot of protein shakes are needed.”
Despite the danger involved, their parents have been right behind them every
step of the way. “They couldn’t be more supportive, because we were always quite into the alternative scene, you know, we were the Goth kids, and when we decided to get into wrestling, they were a bit taken aback by it,” said Leigh.
“They've seen how far we've come in the last four to five years and they absolutely love it, they're so proud of us.
“It's with their support that I moved to Glasgow and that we are going to Japan.”
Leigh can't wait to get out and join her sister in the far east: “It's going to be kind of a big thing because we are going to be the first ever female twin tag team in Japan.”
Kelly spoke of the time she's spent in Japan: “It is a huge culture shock to the system, not only language barriers but culture and food too.
“Lets just say I love sushi and tempura and having been here nine weeks, I think I have settled in now and am a lot less homesick.
“The wrestling is outstanding here, the girls really know how to stand on their own and show them all how it is done.
“The crowds are very different from western fans, they appreciate what the wrestlers do to themselves to entertain them.
“They are an amazing crowd to work in front of because you can feel the appreciation. Some even bring the girls presents as a thank you.”
The women are ambitious: “We would absolutely love to make it our full time careers, we are hoping to get some fights soon, we are doing a lot of training camps and what not.
“We've been talking to a few talent scouts and hopefully you might see us in the WWE soon,” said Leigh.
Kelly said: “My dream was firstly to wrestle in Japan, then Mexico and finally try out for WWE.
“I want to see the world and learn my craft and become the best I can before conquering the biggest of them all, WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment.”
The pair’s time in Japan could be a gilt edged investment, as it has been announced that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will see wrestling return as an official sport.
Belfast Telegraph Digital