Shazza McKenzie is speaking out about experiencing sexual assault after a promotion in Australia decided to name an upcoming tournament after the man who assaulted her.
She shared her story on twitter saying, “This Friday (8-6-18), it was brought to my attention that a local wrestling promotion in Sydney was hosting a tournament in honour of Mario Milano.
A minority of my audience may have vaguely heard of this man as an Australian wrestler who competed throughout the 1960s to the 1980s. It is the unfortunate truth that to me, he will only be remembered as a veteran who took advantage of his status to physically abuse me.
In October 2010, during my 2nd year of wrestling, I was backstage at a Melbourne wrestling promotion where Mario Milano was also present. Out of respect, I approached Mario to introduce myself when he suggested that he put his signature abdominal stretch on me. While he had me in the hold, my arms trapped behind his leg and arm, he groped me in front of the locker room. This incident was not only degrading but publically embarrassing. At the time, I was 22 years of age, fresh in the business and was told to keep my story private because “he was a wrestling veteran”. To add to the point, the wrestlers who saw this incident have laughed throughout the years at this because “what a great rib”. This is not a rib. This is not a joke. This is sexual assault.
This Friday, I publically shared my story via Twitter. While this was not the first time I shared this event, this time it got picked up by wrestling media outlets and shared. Once the news broke, I received a number messages, tweets and comments accusing me of fabricating the story for attention and/or stating that I was asking for it due to the wrestling gear I choose to perform in.
Let me be clear about this. I am not sharing my story for any gain. Since the incident occurred in 2010, I have travelled the world competing across Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Malaysia and even had the opportunity to appear on WWE television. I have built an audience of thousands of followers across social media and am one of the female competitors on the forefront of taking Australian wrestling international. Furthermore, I am not pressing any legal charges against Mario Milano or his family for financial gain.
I shared my story and will continue to share my story, as this Friday I didn’t only receive messages of hate and negativity. I received multiple private messages from female professional wrestlers, trainees and staff thanking me for standing up. Thanking me, because they’ve had professional wrestlers of days past and present think that it is okay to sexually and physically abuse them due to the number of years they’ve been wrestling or in a trade-off for bookings/ favours in the business.
It is important to note that you cannot expect anyone else to share their story. It takes courage to come out and say you were abused or say you witness abuse and did nothing. This is especially true when it comes to outing someone involved in professional wrestling, as most would see this as detrimental to their careers.
We’ve come from an era of professional wrestling filled with drug, domestic and sexual abuse as is very well documented. It is sad to see our heroes fall, but it is more important that the wrestlers of this era no longer have to worry about sharing a locker room with anyone that will potentially harm them or make them uncomfortable.
To the promoter who is upset with the way I chose to spread my story. I am sorry if I offended you, but I am not sorry for sharing my story. I will continue to stand up for what is right in this business so the wrestlers I train every week aren’t insulted for the gear they wear, aren’t threatened by violence or sexual abuse and are treated the respect they deserve backstage. Whether I like it or not, I AM a role model with an audience of followers, and now I am using my voice to press for change.
If you’re experiencing, or at risk of experience sexual assault, domestic or family violence, please reach out for help. 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service available online or via the phone 24 hours a day in Australia
I encourage my international followers to share their local helpline’s contact information.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and reached out to me. You all mean the world to me. #TimesUp #MeToo”
— Shazza McKenzie (@Shazza_McKenzie) June 11, 2018
She also said no amount of harassment will silence her from speaking up:
I will continue to use my platform as a role model for many young women to speak the truths about sexual assault and harassment. No amount of trolls will ever stop me and I won’t stop using my voice to help those who haven’t yet found theirs. #TimesUp #MeToo
— Shazza McKenzie (@Shazza_McKenzie) June 9, 2018
Shazza isn’t the first woman to step forward with allegations of misconduct in the wrestling world.
Former ring announcer Heather Lynn came forward in December with her own story about a promoter who would constantly harass the women. Emily Read of Pro-Wrestling EVE and Independent wrestler Pollyanna also shared their own stories of assault. Read those accounts here.
What do you think about this? Sound off in the comments below.