Growing up in the era of the Dynamite Kid, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, British-Pakistani Shak Khan’s love affair with the squared circle began when he was just a teen.
As a 15-year-old with little direction in life, he moved to Blackpool with his father from Halifax.
It was there that he first stumbled upon amateur wrestling at the famed Pleasure Beach, and there that he says he knew what he wanted to become when he grew up – a wrestler.
“The Pleasure Beach ran around 20 seasons of wrestling, inviting members of the public to get in the ring with a wrestler to see if they could last a round,” Shak recalls.
“If they succeeded they won some money. It was our job to make sure they didn’t succeed.”
Although still a young teen, Shak looked up to the competitors as role models and approached his idol at the time, ‘Dangerous’ Dave Duran, for advice.
He was told to go away and work on technique, which he did by training in judo for two years, before finally stepping into the ring for training with the brawlers of Blackpool.
“I was beaten black and blue by them for two to three months at first,” Shak explains. “It was only after that time, only after I had earned their respect, that I began wrestling for real.
“I wrestled all over the UK for various promoters and then when I was 21, I wrestled in Dubai.”
A career turning point for Shak was when he met another of his idols, the well-respected Ali Shan, during a visit to Pakistan.
Inspiring him to continue pursuing a career in the hard-hitting profession, Shak, who also goes by the ring name ‘Raja Sony Pawan’ says he knew right then that he would never be leaving the industry.
Today, the 42-year-old is living out his dream as an amateur wrestler, taking on opponents from Blackpool to Kashmir whilst also training the next generation of athletes from his own wrestling gym.
He won the Pakistani World Championship in Azad Kashmir, whilst representing his home town of Sochani, near Dadyal, and is returning to action in the UK next year to face off in an international contest.
“I’m up against Austrian champion, Michael Kovac,” Shak says. “There was nobody who would face me in the UK so we had to look overseas for an opponent.
“It promises to be a great match. I’m unbeaten in Kashmir and am really looking forward to putting on a good show for the people of Birmingham who come down to the show.”
He adds: “I may be 42 now but I still feel 18. I know that I was born to be a wrestler and will continue doing it for a long time to come.”
You can see Shak compete next year when the fight is broadcast live on Sky channel ‘TV 99’ (channel 842).
Also booked in for the night of action is a ten-man battle royal, featuring former WWE superstar, Joey Legend, and British talents, the UK hooligans.