Professional wrestling wasn't always Mercedes Martinez's goal, she played college basketball and thought she would become a police officer until an injury in college took her off the court. But she used her new found free time to try out independent wrestling. More than 18 years later, Martinez is still fighting for women's rights, women's empowerment, and gender equality, in and out of the ring.
"I think my first wrestling show I didn't get paid at all," Martinez said. "I think for the first year I didn't get paid. Now women wrestlers do get paid, but I still think there's the pay gap."
Wrestling is so much more than a job to Martinez, it is a lifestyle and a healthy way to get out aggression. Martinez experienced a lot of bullying as a kid and needed to find an outlet. Basketball was her first outlet, women's wrestling was her second.
"What people don't realize is that I was really bullied when I was young, so this is my way of getting that aggression out," Martinez said.
Martinez is also married, raising a son, and spends her time out of the ring training her own students. She says even when she is unable to wrestle herself, she will continue to stay involved in the wrestling world helping girls and women train the right way.
"It's never just a job, it's more than that," Martinez said. "It's a life."