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The Florida Wrestling Empire looks to conquer North Central Florida with more competitions

A wrestler wearing purple spandex flies through the air during his tag-team match. (Jake Lynch/WUFT News)
A wrestler wearing purple spandex flies through the air during his tag-team match. (Jake Lynch/WUFT News)

OCALA, Fla -- Tyler Nimmons once got beat up for a living. Now, he wants to share his passion for professional wrestling with the people of Marion County.

“Continuing to put on entertainment for fans still makes me happy because I love when people are happy,” Nimmons said.

The Florida Wrestling Empire is less than a year old and only two shows in, but it has its eyes on bigger and better things. Nimmons, who goes by Eddie Page in the ring, started the league after noticing the hole left by previous wrestling leagues in the area.

During the week, Nimmons works as a sales rep at T-Mobile and has previously worked as a server -- jobs that he says showcase his ability to connect with people.

At 33, he is three years removed from his wrestling career. After nearly a decade of wrestling in his home state of Maryland and parts of the northern US, Nimmons was told he could no longer compete.

“I continue to be a wrestling promoter because, you know, wrestling was stolen away from me when I found out I had multiple sclerosis,” Nimmons said.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease that attacks the nervous system and affects how the brain communicates with the rest of the body. This is critical for someone with a career doing something as physically intense as professional wrestling.

Nimmons has had numerous injuries during his career: a torn Achilles tendon, a dislocated shoulder, a broken nose and a bruised heel.

While matches typically have a decided outcome and predetermined winner, everything between the bell ringing and one of the wrestlers getting pinned is up to the competitors.

That is when the magic happens -- when the wrestler has to walk the line between athlete and performer.

During that time, wrestlers must ensure every move is executed to near perfection. If that doesn’t happen, then a fake punch can turn into a very real broken nose and possible concussion.

With that in mind, Nimmon’s dream of walking the ramp at Wrestlemania had to pivot to putting his own league on the map. A plan that he says materialized faster than he anticipated.

Now, he has wrestlers traveling all over the state and sometimes the country to compete in his shows.

Late last June, the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County hosted Florida Wrestling Empire's second sold-out show, "Heatin' Up.”

The show featured dozens of wrestlers who were there to engage in the controlled chaos that is the verbal onslaughts paired with sweaty melees known as professional wrestling.

Wrestlers do not only engage with their opponents but also with those in the stands. Those in the VIP seating section were actually very important participants in the show.

Whether they were booing, cheering or having direct conversations with those in the ring, the people in the stands were just as crucial to the action as the talent carrying it out.

Shea Jones, 28, was in the stands of “Heatin’ Up” in support of her man, she says. They both traveled more than four hours from Broward County to chase their dream.

“The dream is to see my Honey in bright lights; I mean, shoot, he is so handsome,” she said.

Her "honey" is the wrestler Byson Clutch. Jones says that Clutch has been wrestling since he was 5 years old, and she is willing to do what it takes to help him realize his dreams.

Wrestlers in local leagues are all independent contractors meaning they move from city to city for gigs.

“Honestly, it is very hard work. It is a very lonely road because they are on the road a lot, but you just have to be there to support them,” Jones said.

Others at the events are just there to enjoy watching bodies hit the floor and eat chili nachos.

Kyle Lee, an Ocala local who works with construction machinery, brought his entire family to the show. They got front-row seats and took advantage of the interaction.

Their favorite wrestler is Jake Logan, a hometown hero in Ocala. Logan also works as a server at the family’s favorite restaurant.

“I’d say it's a family event. Friends can come. It is in the Boys and Girls Club. That is a community organization,” Lee said.

Lee has participated in martial arts for much of his life, so he appreciates what the wrestlers can do. Being able to share that with his children is important to him.

Kiki Whyte, a local bartender, brought her children out as well.

“It is very, very entertaining,” she said.

A family-friendly atmosphere is essential not only to the people in the crowd but also to Nimmons, the owner, who has children of his own.

After selling out the show, Nimmons is on the move venue-wise.

He is currently in talks with the county on a larger venue he hopes to announce in the coming months for his event, “Recharged,” scheduled for later in the year.

Members of the wrestling community are also excited about what another league means.

Jean Herrera, wrestler turned independent videographer, had many friends competing in “Heatin’ Up.”

Herrara started his wrestling journey at the age of 15. At 30 years old, his passion turned to behind the camera, bringing him to the event.

His job and passion for the sport explain why he cannot escape the ring.

“Man, it just comes down to the pure love,” he said. “Anybody that steps into a wrestling ring, it's just a different kind of love.”

Jake is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing