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If I'm angry and want to scream, I can't. But Bete can; Once thought a strictly male domain, wrestling is getting more popular with women unafraid to get thrown, twisted, jumped on and bodyslammed. Clare Johnston meets two who are smashing their way to wrestling glorybut you'd never guess by their day jobs. CAKE MAKER AND BODY-SLAMMER.

Byline: Clare Johnston

By day, Lindsay Shields is a vision of cake-baking domestic loveliness.

But come the weekend, the only thing she intends to whip is her opponent - in the wrestling ring.

The pastry chef, 26, from Glasgow, painstakingly creates custom-order wedding cakes for The Little Cake Parlour in the week, while her alter-ego Bete Noire prepares to wreak havoc on a Saturday night.

Lindsay, who lives with her long-term partner Paul, says she couldn't be more opposite to the outlandish Bete.

"There's two different people," she added. "Lindsay is very laid-back - I like reading books and drinking tea. But Bete Noire is the alter ego.

"If I'm really angry and want to scream, I can't do that in real life but Bete can. I can take all my frustrations from day-to-day life and put them into something positive."

Lindsay's love of wrestling started when she was a child but it wasn't until she left uni that she decided to enter the ring herself.

She said: "It was just me and my mum in the house. She started watching wrestling with me, at first to make sure I wasn't seeing anything inappropriate, but eventually she became a fan.

"We liked the storylines and the characters.

"Then, after uni, I didn't have much to do and a friend said, 'You still really like wrestling so why don't you give that a go?'. I went along to my first session three years ago and never looked back."

She found the physicality of wrestling tough to start with - but the performance side kept her motivated.

"You've got athleticism and that competitive edge with wrestling," she said. "But there's also a lot of drama that goes with it. It's like a soap opera that's got fighting in it. If you get it, then that's you, you're sucked in.

"I was more shy when I started out and it was daunting. A lot of people think it looks easy but it is not at all. It's such a shock at first. I was never naturally athletic so it was very hard on the body and I was sore for about the first fortnight after my first session."

And while women's wrestling is still some way off the men's when it comes to both fan base and financing, Lindsay believes times are changing.

She added: "It's going through a transition.

Bigger companies, for a while, were portraying women's wrestling as a cool-down match, eye candy. But in the last couple of years, especially in Scotland, it has been going through a real revolution because you've got these schools that will teach women to wrestle properly.

"We're proving that not only can we wrestle but sometimes we can wrestle better than the men and it's worth paying to come and see us."

She clearly recalls the moment in her own wrestling career when she won the crowd over and began to build her own fan base. She said: "I had a match in Edinburgh in February this year and it was one of those matches where everything clicked and fell into place.

"The reaction we got from the crowd was amazing. I didn't win but I got a standing ovation at the end of it and a little chant and I knew I'd done my job.

"There have been tougher moments too where you're at training or you've been on the road a lot and you're tired, emotionally worn out and homesick. But you can either crumble or use it as a character-building exercise."

TESCO WORKER AND RING BRAWLER At 5ft 4in, Fiona Harrison is just a slip of a thing who, if you met her at work managing staff in a mobile phone shop, you could never imagine her alternate world.

But when the 22-year-old Tesco employee, from Shotts, Lanarkshire, steps out at weekends as fearsome Fiona Fraser, the polite smile she offers customers is replaced with an intimidating snarl.

The mismatch between her stature and wrestling status is not lost on Fiona who, having recently started her new job, finds herself constantly having to convince others she's telling the truth about her hobby.

She said: "They can't believe it and they'll say, 'You? Wrestling? What?'" Fiona, who lives with her partner of seven years, Steven, took up the sport by chance.

"I came home from work one night and I was just channel surfing," she added.

"I started watching wrestling and got totally sucked in. Then I thought, 'I want to give this a go'. I Googled 'Scottish wrestling schools' and decided to try a class.

"I didn't want to go myself so I said to Steven, 'You have to come with me and give this a try'. He didn't want to go but I badgered him for a week and dragged him along and he ended up loving it too."

She made her debut a year-and-a-half ago and, although nervous, impressed from her very first show.

She said: "My first match went really, really well. It was a smaller show. I was scared. In fact, I was terrified but I was told it was really good for a debut and I enjoyed it.

"Because I'm smaller, I get thrown about a bit more than most but you get used to that. It hurts a bit but you learn to minimise it as much as you can. It hurts more the day after."

Though female wrestlers still encounter the wrong kind of attention from some who view it as a chance to watch women in skimpy outfits, Fiona says, in the main, audiences are hugely supportive.

She said: "There's always going to be an element of that and you have to accept it but, in the end, they're still coming to watch and you get on with it.

"Generally, the audience are very respectful and I'm respectful towards anyone who wants to get to know me as well because those people are the audience who are coming to see you. It's a two-way street."

Fiona, who has been out of action for two months due to a long-standing injury, tries to train for up to four hours each week.

While wrestling can be physically demanding, she believes the benefits far outweigh the risk of being hurt.

"I've got so much out of wrestling, " said Fiona. "You gain so many life skills and it's a stress relief too. If I have a bad day, I go to training and get all that energy and frustration out. I've never found anything I love doing as much as wrestling."

And while the talk is tough in wrestling, the reality is it's a safety-focused sport where competitors look out for each other.

She added: "Usually, there are storylines building up rivalries and reasons to fight. A lot of them get built up on Twitter and YouTube. But everyone gets on well.

"When you get into the ring, if you were taking personal stuff in with you, somebody could get hurt and all the girls are professionals. We all want to have a good match and walk away with nobody hurt. We're working towards the same thing."

'' As I'm smaller you get thrown around a lot more but you get used to it


GRAPPLE TURNOVER Chef Lindsay in wrestling gear as Bete Noire

WHO ARE YOU CALLING SMALL ? Fiona works in Tesco's phone shop

SWEET Lindsay Shields with some of the cakes she makes as a chef

ON THE ROPES Lindsay gets to grips with the action as Bete Noire in her debut wrestling match. Since then she has started to build up her own fan base

LEAP OF FAITH Fiona Harrison in action in her other identity as Fiona Fraser, wrestler extraordinaire
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 8, 2013
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