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Holly survives industry's beatings

Nora Greenwald suffered bruises to her body and ego as Molly Holly

Andrea Bailey, Cambridge

Cambridge Times Photo
Special to the Times

Nora Greenwald (right), better known as wrestler Molly Holly, shows that she can referee a bout, just like she will in Cambridge on Thursday.


(Sep 26, 2006)

Molly Holly has a piece of advice for girls who think professional wrestling is a dream job.

"Come to your senses and be a housewife," joked Holly, 29, whose real name is Nora Greenwald.

Life in the ring is tough, she said. And the glamour that many - women in particular - associate with wrestling pales to all the bumps, bruises and aches that can last for life.

"When I first started wrestling, I didn't know much about it, so I didn't know I should be scared. I didn't know about the danger," said the former gymnast and power-lifter, who attended her first wrestling class in 1997 on the advice of a friend.

"And thankfully I never suffered a major injury. I had some freak things happen, like a head injury that made me dizzy and nauseous for about a week after. I was really afraid I'd messed myself up for life; luckily it went away.

"But I never needed to have surgery. I was very fortunate that way."

That's not to say she didn't suffer her fair share of pain.

"I still wake up sore," said the former World Wrestling Entertainment women's champion, who hasn't wrestled in a year and a half.

Her body wasn't the only thing that took a beating.

A not-so-flattering storyline took its toll on her self esteem.

Towards the end of her stay in the WWE, the show's writers thought they'd take her role as a prude-like villain a step further, encouraging other wrestlers and fans to poke fun at her looks - specifically some extra weight she was carrying on her backside.

She was also forced to shave her head bald after losing a match - igniting more mean chants from fans.

On camera, Greenwald played into it. After all, her paycheque was on the line.

But behind the scenes, the depiction hurt.

"As a girl, you don't want people to tell you you're ugly. I'd take those feelings back to the hotel with me and back to my home with me," she said. "It was difficult."

It was also a far cry from the adoration she received from fans when she broke into the WWE as a cute country bumpkin with long, curly, blonde hair.

"I really liked that character," Greenwald said. "Watching kids do my walk, I felt like I was a positive role model for them.

"But when (wrestler) Jazz, who was the top villain at the time, was injured, they needed me to fill her shoes - not that I ever could totally because she's amazing. I had to be forced into the role; I never wanted to play a bad guy."

In hindsight, however, she has few regrets about her career choice.

In fact Greenwald wouldn't trade her eight years of in-ring experience for all of billionaire Vince McMahon's money.

"I escaped fairly well off," she said. "I have no major injuries, I'm not a drug addict and I'm still young enough that I can come back if I ever want to."

In the meantime, Greenwald's keeping quite busy.

She's taking public speaking classes; she's brushing up on her gymnastics skills; she just earned a licence in massage therapy; and she's looking forward to an upcoming trip to Guatemala.

She's also kept her toe in the wrestling world, refereeing at some independent events in Canada and the U.S.

In fact, she'll be calling it down the middle in Cambridge on Thursday, refereeing a match between former WWE diva Ivory and Cambridge's own 21st Century Fox.

"I'm super excited about working with them (Greenwald and Ivory), and hopefully getting some advice from them if they're willing to give it," said 21st Century Fox, whose real name is Melissa Maughn.

"Both of them are awesome athletes and entertainers. I can't wait to listen to what they have to say."

The PWA event will take place this Thursday at the French Canadian Community Centre on Franklin Boulevard. The event will start at 7 p.m.

Torstar DigitalMetroland Media Group Ltd.

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