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Wrestling champion dedicated to building a better Brantford

Community ProfileWrestling champion dedicated to building a better Brantford

Ever since he was a kid, Pretty Ricky Willdy had a dream to become a wrestler.  

Willdy, who was born and raised in Brantford, fostered a love of wrestling from his family but was focused on going one step further to realize his dream.

“My family’s been interested in wrestling for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and my great-grandmother loved wrestling [and] I was interested in wrestling from the time I was a kid. But there’s a thing about myself…I just take things a little bit further,” Willdy recalled.

Willdy characterizes his wrestling persona as a talk show host who drinks too much coffee. He has continued to bring fun and excitement to wrestling fans in Brantford and beyond. Photo courtesy Brantford Wrestling.

After years of wrestling with friends in their backyards in Brantford and at his school gym, Willdy was poised for a career in the ring.  

“I ended up on the University of Toronto’s amateur wrestling team. When I graduated, I entered into a contest and won a scholarship for a wrestling school in Mississauga, Ontario which was run by Santino Marella, a former WWE Intercontinental Champion. I wasn’t really expecting to move to Mississauga, but I ended up living there for a couple of years, and that’s really how my wrestling career got started.”

It was during this time, in 2016, that Willdy started to get serious about a career in wrestling.

“Once I got into Marella’s school, it was a real sense that success or failure is entirely in your hands. It’s how much work [and] effort you put in. And that’s the first time [that] someone had told me that. It really was a light bulb moment for me; to take things a lot more seriously,” said Willdy.

Pretty Ricky Willdy with opponent Bradford Montague. Willdy has wrestled for many years across multiple promotions and is now working closely with local wrestling icon Outlaw Scott Chase to continue to grow the Brantford Wrestling promotion. Photo courtesy Brantford Wrestling.

After three full years of training with Morella, Willdy started to make his way, going on various wrestling promotions.

“I started out as a referee…meeting people [like local promoters] on the scene and creating those in-roads for myself. The first opportunity that I got was for CWF [Canadian Wrestling Federations]; we drove across frozen lakes going to reservations around the Northwest Territories, [and] north of Manitoba…we were in towns that were 24 hours away from the local Walmart, so it was quite remote,” Willdy said. “We would do a show, tear the ring down [and] pile it in the van and drive to the next town. We did that for six weeks, which was my first one, and then I did a couple of three-week tours after that. We were wrestling two to four times a day…and I felt the progression in my skills.”

However, Willdy reflected on his time on the road when he was starting.

“We were on tours with Tatanka [former WWE wrestling star], who was such a cool guy and [who was] willing to share his knowledge from his years on the road. And when we were doing shows with [him], there were 1000s of people at these shows, it was the only thing that was coming to these communities. I’ve gone to just about every province in Canada [and] I’ve been to Texas, to Wyoming, to New York; all across the United States. I’ve had a lot of really great experiences working with people who are very talented in our industry,” Willdy recalled. “Just being able to be in a car ride with my friends, and driving for 12 to 24 hours together. It sounds grueling, but when you enjoy the people you’re with it’s so much fun [and] so much learning takes place.”

Willdy was crowned Brantford Wrestling Champion at the June 7 Brantford Wrestling event. Photo courtesy Brantford Wrestling.

It was during this time that Willdy started to refine his wrestling persona.

“At the end of the first six-week tour, I was still wearing a goatee, and I can vividly remember being in the bathroom before we were heading home, and I shaved off the lower half of my goatee, [and I was] left with just that mustache…[from then on] I really sunk my teeth into how I wanted to present myself and who I wanted to be…The way that I always boil it down is [my persona is] a talk show host with a coffee addiction. The reality is, I drink a tremendous amount of coffee, and there’s nowhere on television I see myself fitting more than as a talk show host,” Willdy said. “I look back on tapes from myself wrestling in my backyard or my elementary school gym, and I noticed what I do now is shockingly similar [to what I did then.] It’s a little bit more money invested in this version of it, but the progression is clearly there.”

After years of traveling and honing his craft, Willdy made his way back to Brantford and has worked closely with a local wrestling icon to create Brantford Wrestling, a wrestling promotion.

“It’s an idea that myself and Outlaw Scott Chase, who’s a Brantford wrestling legend, came up with, where we both had a tremendous passion for wrestling. We had multiple sponsors within the city, like Branford Apparel and RD DiPaolo who helped us,” Willdy noted. “The reality is, promoting a show takes a tremendous amount of work [and] effort and a lot of time. So, to get myself signed up for that, it had to be a worthwhile cause.”

In 2023, Willdy fulfilled his dream to work at the WWE. Although it was a one-day contract, it was a moment that he relished. Photo courtesy Brantford Wrestling.

The first show that Brantford Wrestling put together was ‘Dropkicks for Devin’ in June 2023.

“I had a personal family friend who was in a bad car accident and wasn’t able to go to work. I didn’t have enough money in the bank to be able to give him, but what I did was help organize a [wrestling] show, bringing all his friends and family out and to raise money to help him,” Willdy stated, “We were quite successful [and] were able to give him a considerable amount of money…as a personal side note, his mother was also dealing with some health issues at that time. She passed away [around] two days after that event. Devin pulled me aside and told me that one of the things that made him happy was that his mother was able to be there for that event.”

Due to the success of their first major event, Willdy and Chase, planned for another show, which happened on June 7, 2024.

‘On our second go around, we worked closely with an organization here in Brantford called Free Sport for Growth, which is run by Ross Enslev,” Willdy said. “We were able to raise $1,500 and presented them with a cheque at the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Recognition ceremony that took place in June.”

Brantford Wrestling raised $1,500 for the Free Sport for Growth Initiative, which gives equipment to children so they can participate in sports. Willdy and Outlaw Scott Chase (who was recently inducted into the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Recognition) present the check to Ross Enslev, Rick Mannen, and Lori-Dawn Cavin of Free Sport for Growth. Photo courtesy Brantford Wrestling.

However, Willdy, who fulfilled a dream to be part of the WWE with a one-day contract in 2023, continues to revel in working with one of his childhood idols and perhaps stepping in the ring with him one day.

“I have been twisting Outlaw Scott Chase’s arm for quite some time to try and get him to come back to do one more match, which I think I’ve finally got him into the position where he’s willing to make that jump. He’s somebody who I have idolized for many years…the idea that we’re able to work together on this level is special…I very much consider him a mentor and a friend,” Willdy said.

Nevertheless, Willdy continues building the budding promotion from the success of the last two events.

“I’m able to create these events, as long as the fans want to keep coming out to them [and] as long as the sponsors still want to be a part of it, [and] as long as we’re able to still put a positive impression into the community of Brantford. Then we’re going to try to keep going as big as we can do [and[ we see the Civic Center as a possibility…it’s not going to happen overnight, but we want to be a symbol in Brantford that there’s a lot of positive and there’s a lot of cool things in this city,” Willdy noted.

Yet Willdy reflects on the thoughts he had of the city many years ago, and his desire to stay here and use wrestling to do good in the Brantford community.

“When I was in high school, I looked down on Brantford. I was angry and I was against the city, but I have come to recognize what a beautiful place this really is, and trying to help it out as much as I can. The story I always go back to was when I drove to Texas. We were stopping in all these towns, and every town we stopped at we recognized that they were having the exact same problems that Brantford was facing,” Willdy explained. “It’s a matter of running away from our problems or trying to make things better. And me and my team have decided that we’re going to set down roots [here], and we’re going to try to make Brantford the best place that we can make it.”

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