Wrestling Tag Team duo Zaid and Johnny fly the flag for Brit Asians
WHEN I think of wrestling I think Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and The Ultimate warrior. Hell, I even think of The Bushwhackers (remember them!) But a new name has come to my attention and has me even more excited than the 1990 Royal Rumble.
Meet Zaid Ibrahim Khan and Johnny Gill – Britain’s first Asian Tag Team wrestlers. The duo, who are based in Essex, compete under the name Team-Perfection and are hopeful of securing a professional wrestling contract after they were recently selected for TNA Gut-check – a program which showcases the talents of unsigned wrestlers by one of the biggest wrestling companies in the world, TNA.
Zakia Yousaf caught up with the guys to talk wrestling, signature moves and Hulk Hogan…
Wrestling…that’s quite a sport you’ve chosen to compete in!
Johnny: I always wanted to go in to a sport which I thoroughly enjoy. I mean I love all kinds of sport but this is definitely the one which I have watched since I was a child.
Was Wrestling a main focus for you guys growing up?
Zaid: For me it was a dream since I first ever laid eyes on the old WWF when I was around three. But growing up it seemed very far fetched. It was always a case that in England wrestling was finished here, you needed to be a huge American to do it or you had to be realistic with your goals. But of course I didn’t and couldn’t listen to the negativity.
Johnny: It was the same for me – hands down it was Pro Wrestling.
How did you guys get into wrestling?
Zaid: I played every sport growing up, mainly boxing for over 12 years then suddenly I got fed up with it. I stopped competing and a couple months later a well known wrestling school relocated nearer to where I live so I joined straight away.
Johnny: Wrestling was just one of those things that I always wanted to do as a kid. I have dreamed about it for so long and now I’m finally doing it.
How long have you guys known each other?
Zaid: Just over a year.
Johnny: We had previous tag partners and had wrestled on our own, but it just wasn’t working. Our coach Jon Ritchie had an idea of putting us together, and we just clicked. Since then we have taken everything by storm.
Can you remember the reaction of your family and friends when you told them wrestling was the sport for you?
Zaid: My mum was more like ‘oh for god sake’ that’s all I can remember for a reaction!
Johnny: The first thing they said was ‘wow, that must hurt’!
I remember as a kid watching the likes of Macho Man, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior – what memories do you have of wrestling as young kids?
Johnny: I think it is pretty much the same, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Bushwhackers, Nasty Boys, Undertaker, Bret Hart. I used to try copying all the Wrestlers! As a kid I used walk around the house like one of the Bushwhackers!
Zaid: I remember watching the Ultimate Warrior defeat Hogan for the title which upset me. Growing up I mainly watched Hogan and Bret Hart as they were my favourites. I didn’t miss one event; if I had to I would wait to rent the video from a local video shop where I lived with my family in London.
Which wrestlers – past or present – do you look up to?
Zaid: I loved Hogan, Bret Hart and The Rock growing up. I used to try and dress like them! I even went as far as getting pink vests to copy Bret Hart as that was his ring attire colour!
Johnny: The old wrestlers I look up to were Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. My favourites now are Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk.
Have you met any big name wrestlers?
Zaid: I’ve met a lot, but to narrow it down to the big stars, they include The Rock, Batista, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, and most recently – Hulk Hogan and Sting. Meeting Hogan was surreal!
Johnny: I only recently met D lo Brown, Rob Van Dam and Sting. It was amazing.
The great Hulk Hogan sent you guys a tweet (‘Yo team Perfection best of luck with your wrestling careers, stay strong and don’t ever miss a workout brothers. HH4Life’) – how did that feel?
Zaid: That was really cool. I just tweeted him for the sake of it, woke up next day, was checking my tweets and saw ‘Hulk Hogan’. I was like ‘no way’! That was really class of him to do that.
Johnny: Receiving that tweet was amazing. Never in a million years would I have though he would send us a tweet. It was like a wrestling god had just answered our prayers!
Is wrestling something you do full time or do you have other commitments on the side?
Johnny: Unfortunately due to the UK scene not being as profitable as the USA scene we both have full time jobs.
Zaid: We’re both graduates and as well as working full time we’re both busy with training which includes boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, cardio and strength and conditioning.
How did you come up with the name Team-Perfection?
Johnny: It was one of those names that just clicked with us. Our gimmick was to be better than everybody else, be better looking than everyone else, be stronger and act as if we know everything. We were just perfect. So why not call ourselves Team Perfection.
Zaid: We tried a few names but none clicked, and were a little too cheesy. My wrestling nickname is ‘Picture Perfect’. That’s my gimmick so we thought we would just stick to that, so Team Perfection was born.
Where are you guys at on the wrestling circuit – do you compete professionally?
Zaid: Yeah we are on the UK circuit at the moment, open to doing any shows available as we love to wrestle.
Johnny: We work pretty much all over the country. You never know which promoter is going to call and say we need you guys this weekend.
What type of tournaments have you competed in?
Johnny: Organisations include mainly Dropkixx, as well as LDN and FWA. Apart from pro wrestling, I also compete in amateur wrestling and when I was younger I used to be a county race swimmer.
Have you competed internationally yet?
Johnny: We almost did in the summer for Japan but plans fell through. So at the moment it’s all been UK based.
I assume you guys have to keep to a strict health and fitness regime.
Zaid: Yeah I train every day hard, whether it’s cardio based, weightlifting or boxing, I love intense training whatever it could be.
Johnny: I’m training around 8-9 times a week, 4-5 times a week in the gym and 3-4 times a week wrestling. But I think the hardest part is the diet, because that is a 24 hour job. And you really want to eat pizzas and burgers but you force yourself not to.
You’re the first British Asian tag team – how does that feel?
Johnny: It feels great. It’s so nice to be unique. There are many wrestlers around, that just wrestle and do not have the look or the ‘it’ factor. Being Asian is one thing but being Asian and in great shape is another.
Zaid: It sounds great, especially with the backgrounds we originate from. It’s a one in a million chance to find that anywhere in a team.
Do you hope to act as an inspiration to Asian youngsters?
Zaid: Yes of course, being a role model and inspiration to others means a lot, especially letting Asian youngsters know they can do whatever they want in life as we have. All it takes is hard work, dedication and discipline to achieve that.
Johnny: We need to tell all the youngsters that drink, smoke and clubbing may be a great social life, but it only lasts one night. You need to start training and looking after yourself. Go to the gym join a fitness group, it doesn’t have to be wrestling, it can be anything. Then you will see our kind of social life which is a lot more fun, you get noticed all day long, you meet new friends who have the same things in common and you feel great.
Every wrestler has a signature move – what are yours?
Zaid: Mine in particular is a ‘Perfect-plex’ which was a move of ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Henning and a Gorilla Press which takes a lot of strength.
Johnny: My signature move is the Running Power Bomb!
You were recently selected for TNA Gut-check – how did you get involved in this?
Zaid: We were contacted by a few friends to apply for it. So we did and were selected from a huge number of applicants, this Gut-Check is to help you learn about TNA from the big stars and try convince them you’re good enough to wrestle on their programme and then eventually if you impress, you will be signed to a contract with them.
Johnny: From what I heard a lot of people applied, but they only picked a hand full, so we were really happy and we knew we had something going for us.
What does 2013 hold for you guys?
Zaid: More wrestling shows and appearances, and also keep at our TNA Gut-Check which hopefully leads to something big.
Johnny: Only time will tell, we have many things in the pipe work but I think the most important thing we need to do is keep on training and never give up.
Keep up to date with the guys on Twitter @Johnny_Zaid and @ZaidWrestler