WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus has been on the cusp of movements her entire career — from fitness modeling to pro wrestling and, most recently, yoga. And now being named the first woman to receive the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Iron Mike Mazurki Award, she’s again at center stage when “it seems to be the time for women to be in the spotlight.”
Stratus, a seven-time WWE Women’s Champion, said it’s “pretty forward thinking” of the CAC to bestow her with the honor.
“I think for them to recognize the time has come to look outside the boy’s club and really take a look at what the girls have done is awesome, and including me and to be getting this award now is a real honor,” Stratus said, “and I’m excited because that was my whole goal while being in the industry was to change the preconceived notion of what a female can do in the wrestling world.”
While the former Hardcore Champion will receive the award, she said it also recognizes those who have helped her along the way. Ron Hutchison, a member of the CAC board of directors and Stratus’ trainer, said she is “extremely deserving” of the honor and her successes, which did not come by accident.
“It came through a ton of hard work, preparedness and smarts. Trish Stratus receives the Iron Mike Award because, quite simply, she deserves it,” Hutchison said.
Though Stratus has been involved in many wrestling-related firsts — main eventing RAW with Lita in a women’s championship match and becoming Hardcore Champion — she said the Mazurki award is in “this big upper-ranking area” of first-time honors.
“It’s all related. They go hand in hand,” Stratus said. “I think being in the main event led to better visibility, which led to us having a better opportunity to perform at that level, which led for consideration to be a Hall of Famer, and me being a Hall of Famer and the career that I ended up having led to this nod.”
In addition to Stratus’ in-ring credentials, a key aspect of the Iron Mike Mazurki Award is that a professional wrestler uses his or her credibility from the industry to transition into other avenues, which Stratus did by creating her yoga brand, Stratusphere Yoga.
She initially found yoga in 2004 as a way to avoid surgery on a career-threatening herniated disc, and she continued to embrace the lifestyle after her retirement in 2006.
“Most retirees go and do golf — I did yoga. So, I literally finished up with wrestling, and all I did was yoga, that’s literally all I did at first … I traveled, studied with different teachers around the world, I practiced different disciplines and studio-hopped all over the world.”
Two years later, the Stratusphere Yoga studio opened in Vaughan, Ontario, just north of Toronto. After working in the television industry, she was looking for her next business venture.
“I opened the studio basically because I wanted to share this little secret that I had,” Stratus said.
The studio, according to Stratus, was a “great success.”
“Yoga was just on the cusp of being big,” Stratus said. “I think there were a lot of people who had heard about yoga, but it wasn’t like it is now, where everybody does yoga. So I was excited to be part of it where we were changing people’s views on it.”
Much like Stratus was involved in altering public perception of yoga, her wrestling and modeling careers took similar paths.
“I keep hitting these careers at the right moment, even my fitness career — fitness modeling — there was no such thing as a fitness model before, and right as I started in the fitness world, this fitness-model boom happened in the industry,” Stratus said.
With wrestling soon-to-become a seven-year fixture in Stratus’ life, she left the fitness modeling industry at a time when it was becoming “super saturated.”
“Then everybody was calling themselves a fitness model, and they weren’t necessarily fit. Some didn’t even have a fitness background … and then the same with wrestling,” Stratus said. “It was like kind of there, there, there and then — boom — it had this peak and not that it died, but after I had left, Amy (Lita) left as well and it kind of just went to a different thing.”
In the same vein, Stratus’ time in the yoga world changed, too. She closed Stratusphere Yoga last March, ending another seven-year journey, partially because the brand had transformed. Its focus became on “private and personal training services.” Stratus also has released yoga and fitness videos under the Stratusphere brand to continue reaching a worldwide audience.
“We would send yoga instructors out and start educating people in businesses and then giving them classes and that really took off for us,” Stratus said.
Stratus said it has been “an amazing journey” in her yoga venture and to see the reach her studio has around the world.
“I’m just forever thankful that I get to do something I love to do, and it never feels like work,” Stratus said.
Another aspect of Stratus’ post-wrestling life has involved charity work, an endeavor instilled in her from WWE.
Through the various charities the Diva of the Decade has worked with — including Lymphoma Canada, Children’s Aid Foundation and Carmelina’s Home — Stratus said she has met “really inspiring people,” one being Carl Tilson. Tilson, who passed away in December, had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and was an advocate for the UK-based organization Action Duchenne.
Tilson, who Stratus said was “far beyond what the expectations were that he should have been alive,” wrote to Stratus about being recognized in Manchester, England, by Action Duchenne. He had written Stratus fan mail in the past, and Stratus and her husband, Ron, decided to surprise Tilson in Manchester.
“It was so cool to see how much it mean to him and his parents, you don’t even understand,” Stratus said. “We ended up spending time with their family, we went back to their house … We spent a lot of personal time with them and got to see the true spirit of Carl. It was just amazing.
“This kid had so much heart, I was inspired how every day he gave his energy to his charity and forgot about his own battles to help raise awareness for this disease,” Stratus said. “He will be remembered as a fighter. His Twitter handle was #IAMRELENTLESS and that he was.”
Hutchison, who will present Stratus with the Iron Mike Award in April, said the mother of one continues to make him proud “day in and day out.”
“She has become a very dear and deserving friend, who, for all of her accomplishments and successes, stays grounded and very humble,” Hutchison said. “She’s earned and is very deserving of every honor that has come her way.”
Stratus will receive the Iron Mike Award during the CAC Reunion, which will be held April 11-13 at Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.