WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams Wrestling Association (WWA) is now official. It has a championship belt.
Founded by First Baptist Pastor Andy McDaniel, the WWA originally launched in August of this year. McDaniel, a former professional wrestler, started the league to teach the art of wrestling and encourage local youth to be a part of something bigger than themselves. McDaniel welcomes all age groups.
"We still have the program going, and we're still looking for more people to come out," said McDaniel. "We encourage all ages, we have young and old alike, to come out and learn how to do this and be a part of it."
This inimitable form of sports entertainment, which combines the fervent spectacle of good versus evil storylines with savvy acrobatic moves, was part of McDaniel's life for almost 20 years and is something he still holds close to his heart.
The recent arrival of the WWA's championship belt is just another step in the right direction for the small but growing wrestling association. The belt is professional quality, the same size and weight of belts from much more famous leagues such as the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling. McDaniel said a ladies championship belt is on its way too.
There are currently 12 members in the WWA. McDaniel said he hopes to draw more participants so the league can put on a show for the entire community sometime in the spring.
"We want to challenge people to come down and join, enter into the tournament and take the belt," he said. "The tournament would be a public event; we'd have tickets, put on a great show, crown the champion, the whole thing."
The WWA has members of all ages - both male and female - to ensure participants are evenly matched. McDaniel said the youngest wrestler is 12. Some are well into their 20s, but no one should be afraid to give it a shot.
"I'm in my 40s and I'm still doing it," McDaniel said. "We don't want to go too young though because we don't want anybody to get hurt."
McDaniel added that youngsters of any age, even the very young, are welcome to come and watch their practices. WWA members practice three times a week, Monday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings at the old grade school on Sheridan Avenue and Second Street.
In addition to the regulation size, professional grade ring, the old grade school is now home to plenty of fitness equipment as well.
"We've expanded, we're in the same room but we've filled up. We have a whole fitness area now, weight equipment, heavy bags for punching, and free weights," said McDaniel. "The equipment is mostly donated, and we're putting the gym together as we get each item, piece by piece."
McDaniel added the kids that have been coming are really learning a lot and doing very well. He's happy and proud of them. But, he said the WWA definitely has room for more to join.
"That's what we're here for, to be an asset to the community, help the young people and give them something to work for," McDaniel said.
McDaniel teaches his wrestlers how to fall properly, use the correct stance, how to enter the ring and how to give an interview or "cut a promo." He also teaches holds, takedowns, grappling and basic wrestling techniques.
Originally a South Carolina native, McDaniel juggled a law enforcement career with his professional wrestling endeavors. He began wrestling at 18 years old.
More information is available by contacting McDaniel directly at (928) 522-4047.