Joelle Hunter’s story sounds like many other stories you’ll hear from the women in pro wrestling. “I was introduced to wrestling in my early teen age years by some of my friends. I mainly watched the WWE, and I would say my hero’s were definitely the Undertaker and Sheamus.”
Hunter decided she wanted to follow in Sheamus’s footsteps, so like many ambitious teens, she found a wrestling school that would admit her at the tender age of 16. Most wrestling schools in the States won’t take someone so young, of course, but Hunter isn’t from the States. She was born in Lebanon, and she was raised in Saudi Arabia. She now lives, trains, and wrestles in Dubai at the Dubai Pro Wrestling Academy, and she is the first female wrestler in the Middle East.
A year into her training, Hunter (whose real name is Gheeda Chamasaddine) is already working shows with more than twenty fellow wrestlers in Dubai, all of them men. She describes herself as a technical/submission wrestler, and though only 5’4″, she can body slam men twice her size. Trainer Caleb Hall was as tough and demanding with her as he is with any man who walks through the doors of his school, and that toughness has helped her earn the respect of the Dubai locker room. “My wrestling mates are all very supportive. They never treated me differently or made me feel less cause am a woman.”
Hunter has enjoyed the support of family and friends, and the wrestling fans in Dubai have accepted her as well. But Hunter knows that her dream – to see a women’s wrestling division established in the Middle East – will meet with a great deal of opposition in a region where women struggle for equal rights. “I have a lot of haters. There are lots of people who don’t accept what I do, but I can really say there is no overcoming that hate. You just need to not care about it at all.”
Hunter aspires to travel the world, to learn from other wrestlers and trainers, and pursue her dream as far as it will take her. She even has a dream opponent in mind. “I would love to wrestle Kharma some day, the woman who was in the Royal Rumble.”
Facing the legendary Kharma/ Awesome Kong would be a great accomplishment, but Hunter hopes to do more than win a few dream matches. She wants to inspire other women to pursue their dreams, even as she fights for her own. “I wanna show girls that it’s okay to wrestle and be who they wanna be. It’s a very hard task, but I will keep doing what I do and hopefully in time people will become more accepting of it.”
Joelle Hunter is a humble and gracious spirit, the kind of young woman who can be a positive role model for girls and women worldwide. She’s got an uphill fight on her hands, but fighting is her chosen profession. She’s already winning fans and friends in Dubai, and I have a feeling she’s going to make more friends all around the world.