BY LUIS GRONDA
TNA Wrestling star Gail Kim has established herself as one of the most prominent woman wrestlers in the industry today.
From her time in the WWE, to becoming the first and longest reigning Knockouts champion in TNA, Kim has accomplished her dream of becoming a wrestler.
According to Kim, or Gail Kim-Irvine outside the squared circle, she has been a big wrestling fan since she was a kid. While attending college in her native Toronto, Canada, she decided to eschew her college education and instead train to be in the wrestling business.
Kim-Irvine trained under well-known wrestling trainer Ron Hutchinson, who has taught other Canadian wrestlers like Edge, Christian and Trish Stratus. She made her wrestling debut in 2000 and eventually started at the WWE in 2002, after spending time at Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was essentially their minor league system prior to promotion to the main organization.
She is now on her second stint in TNA, also making two trips to the WWE.
Kim-Irvine describes the difference between the two organizations as “night and day,” saying TNA allows her to showcase her in-ring talent rather than focus solely on her beauty.
“For someone like me, my talent lays out in the ring,” she said in an interview with the Queens Tribune.
Three wrestlers in particular have served as big influences in her career, according to Kim-Irvine. The first is Nora Benshoof, better known as Molly Holly in the wrestling world. Kim-Irvine said she recognized her talents and introduced her to WWE officials that eventually gave her the first big break of her career.
Rey Mysterio Jr. was the inspiration for her high-flying wrestling style that she uses in the ring today, she said.
While she precluded it as a bit of a sore subject, Kim-Irvine said Chris Benoit also inspired her during his career. She emulated his microphone style and his ability to cut good promos in the ring. Benoit was a former WWE and WCW superstar who killed his wife and son and then committed suicide in 2007.
The wrestling lifestyle does not leave time for other activities, Kim-Irvine said, although it is something she was expecting when she got into the business.
“This is the way I know life,” she said. “It’s hard to schedule or plan ahead.”
Kim-Irvine and her husband, celebrity chef Robert Irvine, do manage to see each other whenever the opportunity arises, she said.
As for what is left in her wrestling career, she is not sure when retirement will come, but she said when it comes time to hang up the boots, she would like to become a trainer and help young wrestlers get their career started.
“One thing I’ve always said is that I want to retire when I’m on top,” Kim-Irvine said.
TNA will host their very first event in New York City, taping three IMPACT episodes on June 25-27 at the Grand Ballroom in Manhattan. The company recently scheduled three more IMPACT tapings at the same venue, scheduled for August 5-7.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.