Against the Ropes

The state says female fighters canít throw a punch without a pregnancy test

As for income, some wrestlers earn nothing more than a post-bout meal; others might make $50 a match. Their two-year license costs only $40. But as of last year, wrestlers must also foot the bill for HIV and hepatitis tests in order to qualify for a license.

"They want us to have the tests every two years," complains Hall. "What good is that going to do us?" He adds that the escalating costs send wrestlers to Illinois, which does not regulate the sport.

"We're fed up with being treated like we're a real sport. We're just entertainment. Everything is predetermined. It's all rigged," says Hall.

Seconds Casta: "We could go to the Muny or the Fox Theatre, run a show for a week at either place, and have the same exact show, the same exact moves, the same exact outcome of every match. Is that a sport? No. That's entertainment."

Andrew Hall and his wife, Carla "Lacey" Hall, have begun collecting like-minded letters from fellow wrestlers and are calling upon State Representative Brian Nieves to push for deregulation of the industry during the next legislative session.

"Come fall the representative would like to work toward getting a bill going," says Rita Clarkson, Nieves' legislative aide. "But he'd like to do some more research himself first."

Meanwhile, women such as Julie "Jewells" Utley are boycotting their beloved sport. "Until this rule is gone, I'm going to be a valet — a cheerleader, basically."

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