The massive Canada Day TigerFest wrestling shows that have grown through the years bring a real international flavour to the fans who pack the outdoor show each year in Brampton, Ontario. This year, the Bollywood Boyz, Harv and Gurv Sihra, are booked on the show for the first time and the veterans of the Canadian independent scene, and stars of the TNA-affiliated Ra King King promotion, couldn’t be more excited.
TigerFest is run by former WWE star Tiger Ali Singh and his father, the legendary Tiger Jeet Singh. The free show, with a 5 p.m. start, at Brampton’s Chinguacousy Park raises money in support of the Osler Foundation’s Etobicoke General Hospital, Brampton Civic Hospital and Peel Memorial.
“Tiger Jeet Singh is THE most respected Indian wrestler ever. It’s one of those things, we’ve always thought about it, getting on the Tiger shows — who wouldn’t want to work with a legend like that?” gushed Harv Sihra. “This year, Tiger shot us an email, and we jumped right on board. It was a yes right away; there was no hesitation.”
Given that it’s a national holiday and the wrestling card is just one part of a day-long party at the park, the crowds have been massive in the past, numbering in the thousands.
“When we saw the pictures of the event, we were like, ‘Man, that’s a goal of ours. We’ve got to get out there, get in front of that crowd, the Tigers, and show them what we have,'” said Gurv Sihra. “For us, it’s just a huge opportunity, seeing who we’re working for — Tiger Jeet Singh, the biggest Indian wrestler of all time. Being able to work for him and his son, Tiger Ali Singh, is a huge honour.”
Others on the show include Steve Corino, Sonjay Dutt, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Tyson Dux, the Butcher (Dru Onyx), and Bushwhacker Luke. The main event is Tiger Ali Singh against Rhyno in hardcore, no-rules match.
“TigerFest is all about providing a platform for young upcoming new stars and the Bollywood Boyz fit that to a tee,” said Tiger Ali Singh. “Aside from their obvious superior in ring abilities, the thing that most impressed me was their determination outside of the ring. Funny story is when they first contacted me shortly before last year’s event with the interest of wanting to get booked. My initial thought was they were calling a week prior to the event wanting to get booked not knowing the card was locked two months earlier. But actually they heard of the growing demand and were asking to get booked one year in advance of this year’s event. The other thing that is appealing is their South Asian background, because the demographic of a TigerFest audience is about 70% South Asian and 90% not being traditional wrestling fans. So we’re always looking for fresh new faces that can appeal to an audience that is not relatively accustomed to professional wrestling outside from catching it once and awhile on television and never prior making the journey to a live wrestling event.”
The journey from British Columbia to Brampton, a city to the east of Toronto, is a welcome one.
For one thing, there is a lot more media attention in Toronto, something that Harv Sihra believes has held back his hometown promotion of Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) in B.C.
“To be perfectly honest, if Vancouver was anywhere on the East Coast, ECCW would be probably the biggest thing in North America. What we’re doing out here is strong and it’s hot. We just sold out the Commodore actually, which is one of the leading concert venues; we had just over a thousand people — and we’re an independent wrestling company. Because we’re in the Pacific Northwest, it goes unnoticed,” ranted Harv Sihra, who is more than familiar with the trials and tribulations of the road. “B.C. has been pretty strong for us, so we’ve stayed in B.C. for a year or so. Prior to that, we were all over the place — Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan. For the last year and a half we’ve maintained B.C. as a kind of — I think it’s one of those things where you learn how to get over in your own territory, your own indy company, because prior to that, we were all over the place. We were doing the Tony Condello Hell Tours and all that, doing the Harley Race camps, the OVW camps. We actually never had storylines locally, to see if we could hold a main event spot. It’s nice to know you can sell out your local indy community centre, which we’ve done. We’ve purposefully designed ourselves over the last year and a half to do that.”
His brother concurs.
“I don’t think the scene in B.C. has been this big as it is right now,” said Gurv Singh. “Things are on the up and up here.” Getting to work in front of dedicated, loud and boisterous fans is fun and a challenge. “You’ve got to keep things fresh. The crowd here, the fans here, they’re amazing. They really love their wrestling. They’re boisterous. They’re big supporters of what we do.”
The Globe & Mail newspaper noticed ECCW recently, though, running a photo essay by John Lehmann showing the wrestlers during the day as well as what they do in the ring. [In Photos: Wrestlers after the bell]
The Sihra brothers were both featured in the photo essay. Harv was shown as a student of history at Douglas College, and Gurv is hiding behind a corner with binoculars, hunting suspects.
The Bollywood Boyz both continue to strive for the dream of working full-time in professional wrestling, but are realistic about having another career to fall back on.
Gurv has studied criminology, works in loss prevention, and plans to take the next steps towards becoming a police officer.
Harv, the more outgoing of the brothers, has done some modelling and acting.
“I’ve been able to branch off the last few years. It’s been pretty cool. Even my brother has jumped on board,” said Harv Sihra. “We just finished this movie called Russell Mania, which stars John Morrison actually. We got to meet him. It’s like a wrestling Air Bud franchise, and they’re making it into a wrestling thing now. We both realized that you can’t just be wrestlers. Entertainment is a big aspect of it. Obviously we’re trying to make it to WWE or whatever, but I’ve been testing the waters with everything — modelling, acting, whatever it may be.”
Given that they worked with Ra King King, which was the brainchild of Jeff Jarrett, the Bollywood Boyz are naturally under consideration for Jarrett’s new GlobalForce Wrestling promotion.
“Obviously, nothing’s been announced. There’s nothing from our end either,” said Harv Sihra. “What’s cool with that is we got to work directly with him, to see how he works. He’s one of those guys that is so inspiring because wrestling’s his life. … He’s got a pretty good track record. Fingers crossed. Me and my brother, we’re just trying to look for jobs anywhere at this point. Wherever that comes, that would be pretty cool.”
Gurv Sihra gets the last word: “It’s not over ’til it’s over. I feel like we’re still young enough and we bring something very different and unique to present. Working with one of the major promotions is our goal, whether it’s WWE, TNA, or the new one starting up with Jeff Jarrett, GlobalForce. We’re hoping we can work for one of the major promotions in North America. We can definitely bring something to the table. With our Bollywood gimmick, I feel that people are definitely connecting with it. Bollywood is definitely a big industry right now, people are aware of it and they know exactly what it is. It’s not just a gimmick either — my brother’s done some stuff in Bollywood for Indian films and music videos. It is who we are. It’s never been done. It’s something different. Going overseas and working in Japan is another huge goal of ours. We’re hoping that’s something we can do in the near future. Everybody on that TigerFest roster has a background from working in Japan, and we’re hoping that building some connections and networking will hopefully get us out there.”
BOLLYWOOD BOYZ / SINGHS / SIHRAS STORIES
- June 12, 2021: Bollywood Boy Sunil separates shoulder
- Sep 29, 2016: B.C. charity-based promotion just keeps rolling
- Apr 30, 2013: The Bollywood Boyz get ‘Grilled’
- Mar. 28, 2008: Wrestling Lion Sihra never sleeps