Translation from italian by Stefano Ferri
You have no idea what I had to suffer to get this interview. Marchese is a demanding perfectionist, even more than me. Every word was weighed and evaluated. Every comma discussed. Each question has been the subject of controversy. Anyone else would have given up, or given two short questions and that’s it. But he is one of the most prominent figures in the current Italian wrestling segment, and I wanted to let you know and appreciate him too. I assure you it was worth it! He’s been recently declared the best Italian wrestler. Half of the Italian wrestlers were his pupils, or pupils of his pupils. Two Italian belts – a TCW and a UIW, one in Austria and one in America at the same time make him the first and only European Quadruple Crown Winner. He is the first Italian athlete residing in Italy to win an American title. He has some fifteen other belts conquered in twenty years of career in the ring during his almost six hundred matches. And yet… if you ask him, he pretends not to notice it all and says he doesn’t even remember what year, or for which category it all happened. This man was a self-defense instructor for the police and the army. He was Italian champion of Brasilian jujitsu – an impressive athletic preparation in spite of a not giant physical (short video in the queue)… here comes Marchese, the Marquis!
Tell us a little about you, starting from the beginning: where did get your passion for wrestling?
First of all, I would like to thank you for the time you have decided to give me.
Since childhood, I have always loved this sport. It is a tradition of my family that all males should learn at least one fighting style and one of my great-grandfathers knew rudiments of Catch Wrestling. All these factors led me to want to practice this discipline.
You are one of the most charismatic and yet most controversial characters of the Italian scene. What are you accused of, exactly?
Many people confuse the character with the person.
Beyond that, there are thorny sides of my character. Many accuse me of having old and extreme ideas; actually I am a logical man, and I will always prefer a rational and arguable idea to a popular one. It should be added that I am bitterly sincere.
St. Therese of Lisieux said: “If I am not loved, so much the worse! I tell the whole truth: please don’t look for me, if you don’t want to know it”.
Despite this, you still are a multi-titled and the only one who has been able to make a living of wrestling in Italy. Which titles did you earn with your honest sweat and in what disciplines?
Frankly I don’t remember. It’s over 20, in different federations. To be cited are the two European titles and the international one, won in the USA. For more than 600 days I have been champion of the Total Combat Wrestling: I think it’s a record in Italy. I also held titles in other fighting techniques: among them I remember the Italian “open” title of Brazilian Jujitsu.
Even for you there was a first time in the ring. Who was or who were your teachers? How did you feel during the first few training sessions? Did you expect something more, less or different?
When some newcomers complain, I smile thinking back to my beginnings. At the time the Pro Wrestling didn’t exist in Italy and I decided to learn this sport in Austria, in a very small local entity. It took 800 km by train every time, of course with neither a cell phone nor the Internet. In the gym I had to tackle the language barrier as well as some mistrust: I weighed only 45 kg and for nearly a year I had been used exclusively to let the other pupils – all above 100 kg – try the moves. At the end of each workout I was exhausted and dragged me on the train to go home. I didn’t give up. After a few months they began to explain to me some moves and in the end I managed to debut, back on September 23, 1995. A year after I won the title. For some years I had been stretching in Pro Wrestling, also facing practitioners of other disciplines in inter-style meetings (today they would call them MMA matches). In 2001 I was in England to follow a stage of the FWA (held by masters Mark Sloan, Doug Williams, Paul Burchill, Justin Richards and others); after a show, I was noticed by Dragon and Red Devil, who informed me of the birth of an Italian movement, and I was asked to be a part of it. Back to Italy I began a collaboration with IWS (300 km away) and – in 2003 – with ICW, which hired me immediately as a trainer and fighter.
Probably I got to be the first coach to have had a real multi-year education. In January 2006 I decided to bring my knowledge up to another level and I went to train in the US. Master Dory Funk Jr. is a great Pro Wrestler (3rd longest reign in history) and the world’s best teacher, with students such as Kurt Angle, Ted Di Biase, Lita, Matt and Jeff Hardy, Christian, Edge, Test, Christopher Daniels… It was unsettling: I had already been working for ten full years in Europe, but when I started training at the Funkin’ Conservatory, I became aware of my incompleteness: it was as if I had never done anything before! Being hired in his Funkin’ Conservatory Wrestling was something totally unexpected! I had the opportunity also to try out for AJPW (also thanks to the Vice-instructor, Master Osamu Nishimura) as well as to have some lesser roles in TNA. I want to emphasize that Master Dory Funk jr. is also a great person: I am honoured to be a pupil of his and to have good relations with him.
You’ve played in other leagues, you fought abroad: can you tell us your experience?
Fighting abroad is an important experience because it extends one’s knowledge and opens one’s mind. There would be an endless number of amusing anecdotes…
Of course you have to adapt: sometimes I slept in five-star hotels, sometimes I split a sandwich with the homeless, sitting on the roadside. The trips are quite challenging. Once I had to fight in four different countries in a single month, and practically I saw only the gyms.
So many people claim that wrestlers are uncivilized and ignorant people, thugs only able to lead hands. Instead you have a lot of qualifications, but I know you are so modest that one has to get this information out of you with pliers. For once can you put aside your great humility and let us participate in your great culture, just to figure out what stuff the men who tread the ring are?
I appreciate the irony: I am aware I am not humble.
My studies are fairly intricate. In the high school years I attended an experimental agricultural technical institute: about half of the hours were filled with subjects related to biology. After graduation I enrolled in physics, then I specialized in astrophysics. For some years I got by psychology and ancient languages, and finally I realized an old dream: studying history of religions. In my view, being interested in religion is a natural next step after studying physics.
As Werner Karl Heisenberg said (Nobel Prize in Physics and one of the founders of quantum mechanics): “The first sip from the glass of natural sciences makes atheist, but in the bottom of the cup God is waiting for us”. Some time later I obtained a further degree in Holy Shroud science. Every so often I follow some courses on the most varied subjects, but I haven’t quite determined what my next path would be. I think I will study for my whole lifetime. The poet and rhetorician Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis said: “Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano” (“We need to pray so that there is a healthy mind in a healthy body”).
Abroad you had achieved considerable fame, there was merchandising on you, and I also know that action figures have been made on your character (an “action figure” is a doll representing a person or a character known for his/her vigorous action, like a soldier or a superhero. The figure is typically possible, with jointed limbs). Why did you decide to return to Italy and start over with what is here considered a b- c- or even a d-sport?
To be honest my merchandise is still out there, though slightly less varied. In the USA I had significant opportunities, but I decided to come back and make an old dream come true: helping create a strong Italian Pro Wrestling movement. Today this sport doesn’t enjoy great popularity in our country, but its level has risen. Certainly there are problems and – sometimes – the attitude is immature, but I’m glad I raised this “son” of mine.
Where does your gimmick come from?
Throughout my career I have played several characters.
Maybe the one lasting the most turned to be The Marquis (=Marchese in Italian, ndt), a snooty and sadistic noble, lover of wealth and beautiful women. Funny note: I actually inherited nobility titles. Every good character is the exasperation of a part of the player’s personality.
Over the years, however, I began to feel this gimmick increasingly distant from me: I was just grown up. TCW President Jacopo Galvani came to help me, suggesting I should play a new character: the mystical leader of the Cult of Light. Forgive the pun, but it was a… lighting.
Heaven Ascension Marquis was born!
And in the end you became master. There is a reason why even those who speak ill of you travel kilometres and arrive from far away to learn from you the art of wrestling. Do you have a special way of teaching? Do you think you are equal to or different from the other wrestling masters?
In Amritabindu Upanishad (one of the sacred texts of Hinduism) we read: “The milk of cows of various colours is white”.
I have been by now teaching since 2003 and more than half of the wrestlers of our country are my students or students of my students. The knowledge-line of Master Dory Funk jr. wasn’t interrupted and I am happy to have played my role. My teaching method is quite hard, but there are no magic formulas: I just teach what I was taught.
What changes, inside of you, when you realize that young people are entrusting you their future?
I’m happy of it, but I’m basically a means. I help them, as others helped me before (…and still do: you never stop learning). Some of my students now teach and help others make their dream come true. It’s a spinning wheel.
What should a good teacher be, and what shouldn’t he?
I thank you for this question and I apologize if I dwell a bit, but the theme is important. As Jesus said: “if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into a ditch”.
Today a student has the right and the duty to demand that any teacher provides a curriculum, even with evidences. No one can be master, if he hasn’t been a student at first. Bernard of Chartres said: “We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more of them and more distant things, certainly not due to the height of our body, but because we are raised and taken up by the stature of the giants”.
I start by saying that being lauded by supporters is irrelevant: they may be biased.
Equally irrelevant is having fought against famous foreigners – a rewarding and constructive experience (I myself have faced few of them), but in terms of curriculum it doesn’t count.
Each wrestler works for money: even Hulk Hogan would fight with a circus clown, should the fee be proper.
That said, we must avoid a small intellectual dishonesty: an internship with a big fighter doesn’t make students of his. No one can learn Pro Wrestling in a few hours: that’s supplementary education.
In this regard, one must also avoid to pretend to be a practitioner of Lucha, Puroresu, Strong Style… if one’s never had a teacher linked to these styles. For example: how many have had long lasting training in Italy by Japan-oriented masters? Manuel Majoli, Queen Maya, me… Others? Watching videos of a style doesn’t make a master, just as with any other sport. A bit of maturity is required to a fighter.
Last but not least, the behavioural factor. A trainer should convey positive values, but he shouldn’t be transfigured: each person has his/her vices and the private life mustn’t be confused with the agonistic one. In the workplace – nonetheless – one must live up to a certain level. “Respect” is the key word. I’ve seen people insult their teacher, colleagues, staff…
Someone even got to attack his colleagues’ relatives…
Such episodes mortify our art indeed. How would you call these individuals? Masters? Wrestlers? Or even just good people?
What should a good pupil be, and what shouldn’t he?
A good pupil must be a person who listens to and respects.
To whom would you recommend to do wrestling and to whom would you recommend to dedicate himself to other things?
Pro Wrestling is a discipline that – beyond any scene – implies significant impacts; players are therefore required a medical certificate attesting good health.
Personally, for the same reason I don’t accept underage pupils.
If a person is healthy and adult, he must simply find a good teacher, and completely trust him. He should be ready to pour sweat, blood and tears (literally). Who doesn’t surrender, will get results.
Thomas Alva Edison said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.
No one is less apt than me, thus I expect all my pupils get better results than mine. Trust, respect, belief, duration.
These are the hinges. Remember what is written in the Ramayana (epic poem and Hindu sacred text): “The enthusiasm has great strength. There is no greater force enthusiasm. Nothing is unattainable in this world for the enthusiast”.
With or without mask, false identities, outlandish costumes… how much do these things influence the charm of this sport?
A lot, in my opinion. Pro Wrestling is – however – above all a sport.
When one of my novice pupils speaks to me of characters and costumes, I have him make a few hundred squats. You gotta first learn the basics, face the sports part. Once you understand that Pro Wrestling is a sport – only then – you can deal with the artistic side. But be careful not to confuse this artistic side with the senseless buffoonery. A goliardic side is tolerable, but let’s remember that – originally – masks had a religious significance: they were worn in the struggle tournaments of the pre-Columbian populations, in order to obtain power from the represented gods and spirits. What if a person wants to see pure combat with no scenes?
There is also this possibility. Pro Wrestling is a big world indeed.
…But, in my personal opinion, you would lose something in this case.
Which is the move that gives you the most satisfaction, which is the one that gives you the less and which is the one that caused you the most problems?
As in a chess match, each move has its importance. I would have a potentially wide range of moves (I enjoy inventing submissions), but really it isn’t necessary. I use a lot less of them in the ring!
In the past I tried to run very acrobatic techniques such as the Moonsault or 450° Splash, but they are just not my thing: I didn’t feel them “mine”. Some athletes tend to use manoeuvres just because people like them, without making sure of being able to execute them properly. It’s a mistake. The moves must be intimately felt, they must sort of flow and be well executed…
Even if it means to try them a thousand times (literally) while training.
Remember: Pro wrestling is what gets to be between a move and another.
Why do you think this sport is unable to break through in Italy?
Each country has its own culture and traditions. The average Italian has other interests. In the past there have been good times, but often these waves were dashed on the dark side of Pro Wrestling. Everything pays for its mistakes.
…Though the media are often unfair in publicizing strong and weak points of the various disciplines. It’s business.
But pay attention not to blame just the audience: those who propose the shows should not become demoralized or lazy. As Confucius said: “It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness”.
The usual controversy: wrestling is fake; no, it isn’t, it is just too violent… what would you answer? How would you explain it to a child?
I wouldn’t need to explain it to a child because it is a very natural practice: which child has never played fighting?
I remind the adults that human beings are naturally violent: we have thousands of years of history giving us evidence of this. Luckily there are some entities that try to partially buffer this instinct, such as society and religion. Wrestle has this aim: trapping the violence in a written as well as in a non-written regulation. Any wrestler would know how to kill someone with his bare hands… But he would never do it!
Is Pro Wrestling true? Just go to a fighter and count his scars. We get some fictitious attidude, but the ring is made of wood and iron. Every pro wrestler worthy of the name can confidently compete with practitioners of other styles.
Wrestling is a strange sport: any athlete would make false papers to keep fighting even against the advice of doctors, without observing the due recovery time after a crash or when feeling sick. What is your opinion?
Pro Wrestling is a jealous lover: it wants all your life… But the more you give, the more you get.
I admit my fault: I tend to exaggerate. I tried to fight even with broken bones. Widely discouraged.
I suggest the young practitioners should find an appropriate balance between the proper recovery and their willpower. Everyone will manage to find it.
Italy is the country of brain drain and wasted talents. How do you balance work, the ring and the lessons in the gym? Is there still time for a private life?
Once I could make a living of Pro Wrestling, not today: I have to do other jobs. How to integrate all of the commitments? I’m just used to.
I have been working since I was 14: I studied in the morning, in the afternoon I worked in the fields, in the evening I trained. Today I can give the right room to every aspect of my life, including the private one.
Where are your shows?
I begin stating that I am not part of any board and I fight for anyone willing to pay me. That said, I am the champion of the Total Combat Wrestling and – to some extent – I represent it. It performs throughout Italy, but currently it also has a fixed place with one or two shows per month:
Elyon Club, Via Sesia No. 10, Rozzano (Milan).
Also interesting are the shows in Rapallo (Genoa). Then there is a very good cooperation with entities as WIVA, UIW and PWE and others from abroad.
Give your fans three good reasons to come and see you.
Pro wrestling is sport, art and entertainment. Total Combat Wrestling stands out by offering a show with truly extreme elements.
Three people you would cast down from the tower.
Nobody. Each person has his/her own place in this world.
Three people you would save from the end of the world.
Not for me to decide.
Three people you would bring back to life
None: each person must live his/her life, and this only makes sense in its proper context.
Reply with just one or two words to these questions:
Love? Abused term.
Money? Dung of the devil.
Emotion? Fresh ripples.
Travel? Heavy, but constructive.
Free time? Why?
Religion? Engine of mankind.
Joy? Serenity by knowledge.
Negative emotions? Illusion.
Life values? Ancient foresight.
End up with something you want to tell us – a phrase or an aphorism you particularly feel.
I thank you for the interview.
Feel free to follow me in the following areas:
A final gem… look what this man can do! This is his grip training for hands and fingers.
Translated by Stefano Ferri. Thank you, Stefano!