Picture Credit: (c) Tony Knox
Robin Lekime is a Belgian-born professional wrestler who currently lives in the UK. He is perhaps best known in Britain for his work with Ricky Knight’s WAW promotion in Norwich and headlining the first Superclash event promoted by Superstars Of Wrestling in Gloucester in 2013. He also works regularly in mainland Europe and has competed around the globe. A talented all-rounder and decorated multi-time European and tag team Champion for promotions throughout Europe, Lekime is in high demand due to a strong work ethic and reputation for strong quality performances. I was fortunate enough to be granted an interview with ‘The Bull’ and am proud to present this via The Indy Corner. He began by sharing his early memories of pro wrestling and how he first started training:
“One of my earliest memories is a match between the then-Intercontinenal Champion The Ultimate Warrior & Brooklyn Brawler just before WM6. My reaction after that match was ‘I wanna do that stuff!’ From then on, I was hooked. I was 12 at that time. It wasn’t easy finding a school back then; the industry was very closed off and potential wrestlers were more discouraged than encouraged. I finally found contact details of a wrestler through a TV station. After a test, they basically told me that all I needed was bump-training and running the ropes. 3 months of training later, in May ’99, I debuted on a show in Brussels and started on the carnival run in Belgium and northern France.”
For some, their debut is one of the most daunting experiences of their lives, while others revel in the spotlight. Lekime shared the memory of his early matches and his induction into the business.
“It was an awesome feeling. Being in front of an audience actually came quite naturally to me; I’ve always liked performing in front of people. I remember getting really beat up in my first matches – they were just checking if I was going to get back up or if I was going to quit.”
I asked Lekime about his early bookings and how hard it was to make a name for himself back then. He also spoke about the various day-jobs that he had in the early days before he was able to make wrestling his full time profession.
“My first bookings were handled by my trainer, so that was relatively easy. For the rest, it was just dependent on word of mouth. I had the reputation early on as being a good hand. With the internet and everything it’s a lot easier these days to get your name out there. Youngsters actually have it relatively easy now.”
“I used to be a butcher for a while. I’ve also been a warehouse coordinator and worked at a DIY-shop. I’m doing this full-time now so I’m pretty busy, especially with the summer coming up.”
Having used many names throughout his career – The Bull, Roberto Lequimez, Carnage, Mr. Vain etc. -I asked if there were any names/characters that he particularly disliked or that he felt were ever handled wrong by promoters:
“I didn’t dislike any of those. If I disliked something, I wouldn’t do it. As for being handled wrong, that’s a bit of a hard one to answer. I think every promoter had his own idea about how he wanted to use me.”
Lekime regularly gets bookings throughout the world and wrestled regularly in the UK even before permanently moving here from his home country of Belgium. He shared the ups and downs of his wrestling and training schedule and commented on his move from his native country to Norwich, where he is a cornerstone player for World Association of Wrestling.
“The highlights of being on the road are the various road-trips with the boys, but the main downside is missing my 2 cats. I moved here full-time last year in August. I don’t really miss anything about Belgium; I’ve always felt very comfortable in the UK. As for training, I can use the WAW gym anytime I like. There are weights, cardio machines and 2 rings constantly set up.”
Travelling the world and working for various different wrestling promotions, each with their own styles, stars and philosophies, has helped Lekime become a well-rounded and polished performer who has learned how to work well with anyone at any experience level. I asked about his favourite and least favourite matches, styles, opponents and promotions to work with.
“Wrestling on water is something I’m not fond of. The ring is on buoys and is constantly moving. Wrestling in Japan was a nice experience. Splitting my time between the UK and Japan would be cool. WAW is my favorite promotion to work for – and this isn’t ass-kissing – it’s just a well-run company by people that are passionate about wrestling. My favorite opponents are any wrestlers that test me, people that can bring out the best in me. I like working as both heel and babyface, however it’s nice being accepted by the British crowds. As for styles of wrestling, I like working either Strong-Style or British style, I’m a fan of both.”
The British scene is enjoying a resurgence over the last few years and is gaining traction all the time. As a fixture in the UK, I asked Robin Lekime who of the current crop of British talent he believes have potential to become stars in the industry,as well as who have made the biggest impact on the international scene and whether the UK could ever be a strong national territory like those in Japan & Mexico:
“It is a strong national territory. Davey Boy Smith, Fit Finlay and William Regal come to mind as 3 men who’ve done the British circuit, wrestled in Japan and Europe and became stars in the States. Europe, especially the UK, is the place where everybody hones their skills. People from all over the world are still coming over here to learn. American, Canadian and Japanese wrestlers get sent over here to learn. The UK Hooligans are two wrestlers who have potential to be big stars. They are so well-rounded. Alex Young is a youngster that will make it big one day. Lately, a lot of the younger British wrestlers are copying the US mainstream and Indy wrestlers instead of learning how to wrestle properly. Personally, I’m not a fan of that style. I prefer the European/British style.”
Finally, I asked Lekime what advice he would give to anyone who wants to break into the wrestling business:
“Find a good school. Make sure wrestling is your priority. Don’t be blinded by all the frills and big names, learn from the old school veterans. Most importantly, have respect for those who paved the way.”
I would like to offer a big thank you to Robin Lekime for granting this interview and for providing some interesting and valuable insights into a business to which he has dedicated himself for the last 16 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@TheBullWrestler) for updates, news and events.