Gay woman who refused arranged straight marriage finds acceptance through wrestling
A woman who came out to her Sikh parents as gay, and refused to marry a man as part of an arranged wedding ceremony, has managed to come to terms with the experience through wrestling. Former marketing executive Charlene Blugher had always been a WWE fan throughout her childhood and admired the strength, athleticism and steely confidence. Now, at the age of 25, Charlene has pursued her dream to step into the ring as her costumed alter-ego Athena Furie, where she spars against men who (in her words) underestimate her at their own peril.
Charlene's family initially did not approve of her love of wrestling and sports, and her Indian parents thought that these activities were inappropriate for a woman. When coming out to her parents, her mother and father weren't approving initially, and Charlene states that she was unfortunately never able to repair the relationship she had with her dad, who passed away last year. However, her mother has since come to accept her daughter's sexuality, and is now supportive of her wrestling.
Commenting on her new favourite sport, Charlene stated: "The first time I walked out into the ring, with the music, the lights and hundreds of people watching, it was the greatest moment of my life – it was like I had finally found my home ... I’ve always felt like an outsider - from my culture, my family and people my age - but when I discovered wrestling, everything just seemed to fit into place. It’s an environment where I can really express myself, where I can be whoever I want to be."
"I prefer wrestling men, as you can do more and they tend to be able to take more than a female opponent. I’m small but that usually plays to my strengths, because I can slide between their legs and swing around them, tiring them out ... As a youngster, I became absorbed in the storylines that they’d build around the fights and with characters like the Rock, who seemed to just have so much charisma ... From that moment on, being a wrestler was all I wanted from life. I remember when I was 11, telling the boys at school that one day it’d be me they’d see on telly wrestling."
"My father was very traditional and he found it hard to accept that having an arranged marriage wasn’t a life I wanted for myself. Then, when I was 21, my family found out that I had a girlfriend and my dad just couldn’t accept it ... Hopefully, I can also be an inspiration to other little girls now, in the same way, that I was inspired by female wrestlers growing up."
Charlene has now quit her old job in marketing, and instead become a delivery driver so she can focus on her wrestling even more. Way to go Charlene: you really are an inspiration!