A dream that once felt out of reach is now attainable. Canadian newcomer Leah Sparks brings a unique aspect that’s been beneficial to her wrestling journey: her background in circus.

Sparks attended George Brown College in Toronto, for its classical theater program and took up circus as a hobby to fill up free time she had after graduation in 2014. She took it more seriously in 2018 as she was transitioning from acting and now specializes in aerial hoop. During this time, she made trips to Montreal to train with some of the most renowned circus coaches before moving to the province.

Like with any wrestler, there are big wins. She was the 2019 Aerial Hoop World Champion (IPSF), and won national titles in 2019 (CPSF – Aerial Hoop Elite), 2017 (CPSF – Pole Doubles Elite), 2016 (NAPDC – Pole Doubles Elite and CPFA – Pole Doubles Elite), and 2015 (CPFA – Pole Doubles Elite).

Sparks was a wrestling fan growing up, drawing inspiration from Mickie James and Rey Mysterio. “When I was younger I did watch it and when I saw the Diva Search Contest and I was like, I want to be the next WWE female superstar,” she told SlamWrestling.net

She sees a parallel with Mysterio: “I’m short” — she is 5-foot-2 — “and he told that underdog story so well. I feel I resonated with Mysterio because of how he could use his body to his advantage in those situations.”

Leah Sparks shows off her sparkle.

Leah Sparks shows off her sparkle.

Taking up wrestling was always in the back of Sparks’ mind. “I was always looking up places to take classes but I couldn’t figure out how to get there or how to register,” she admitted. Moving to Montreal made Sparks finally begin training. “I’m new to the province, I want to make friends.” Wrestling became the outlet she needed to alleviate some of the pressure she was putting on herself with her circus work. She wanted to learn a new skill while still enjoying it, leading her to settle on wrestling.

Leah Sparks pinning during practice.

Leah Sparks pinning during practice. Instagram photo

At first, Sparks trained at the Torture Chamber Pro Wrestling Dojo under Dru Onyx, but moved to the IWS Dojo in Montreal after a few months, where she currently trains under Shayne Hawke. She spoke very highly of Hawke and the environment he has created at IWS. Sparks confessed that she is an emotional person and is very hard on herself, however Hawke does his best to accommodate people by understanding where they’re at. “He will encourage you and he will want you to succeed but he will not push you beyond what you can handle in that moment,” she said.

He inspires Sparks as she uses things he’s said to her to ground herself when she feels nervous. The relationship formed between student and coach has the potential to impact the lives of both involved, which is evident between Sparks and Hawke because he has taken note of her improvements. “Her biggest improvement has been in her confidence level [this] was an obstacle she is doing a great job at overcoming,” Hawke stated.

Leah Sparks and Shayne Hawke

Leah Sparks and Shayne Hawke

She brought the fire to the IWS Dojo since her first day of training because Hawke recalled that she was very energetic and enthusiastic. Sparks places value on authenticity, a quality she commended Rey Mysterio on, as it’s something she strives for not only in her performance but also in life.

The self-proclaimed “firecracker”, which is based on other nicknames she’s been given throughout her life, lives the gimmick. “I’ve always been called fiery. I have a really big voice that shocks people sometimes.” Staying true to herself is also reflected in Sparks’ actual ring name; she opted for Leah because it’s close to her real name (Leeann Ball) and she wanted something that still felt like her.

Despite the differences between circus and wrestling, Sparks shares the overlapping influence they’ve had on each other in her life. “I’ve learned a lot as a business owner and someone who’s handled a lot of rejection in her life and also accomplished a lot. Just having that head on my shoulders going into the pro wrestling world, I think is an asset that I have,” she said.

Storytelling is another overlapping aspect between the two that Sparks enjoys because she can use her body as a text. “That’s kind of how I look at it, like how physically I can tell a story and what I can convey with facial expressions and my body,” she said. Sparks describes the contrast of consistency in rehearsing her circus acts against the constant changes in wrestling as something she’s struggled with, but that still hasn’t stopped her from enjoying wrestling training.

Leah working with aerial hoop.

Leah working with aerial hoop. Photo by Kaylens Photography

Although Sparks is still fairly new on the wrestling scene, she’s no stranger to performing in front of a crowd with her circus experience. On top of competing on the first season of Canada’s Got Talent, she’s also performed in venues that hold up to 20,000 people. It was daunting at first but Sparks shares how she’s turned those nerves into a positive, “It is a playground on stage, you can do whatever you want. It’s so freeing and fun and once you can tap into that it then becomes more excited nerves.” She also places importance on the opportunity performing gives her to connect with the audience, where she hopes they can see bits of themselves in her.

Leah in the Canada’s Got Talent semi-finals.

Leah (middle) in the Canada’s Got Talent semi-finals. Photo by Canada’s Got Talent

She has big ambitions for the future not only on an experience level, but also on a personal level. “I want to be a positive force in the industry. This world, not just wrestling but entertainment, is very competitive. A main goal is that I don’t lose my sparkle,” Sparks revealed. Along with maintaining her authenticity, she aspires to perform for larger promotions internationally.

Sparks is in action next on February 4th in Montreal for the Women’s Wrestling Syndicate. Competing at an all women event is an honor for her and is something she looks for in wrestling promotions.

“I’m looking at how women are portrayed in their shows, what the promotion is doing to lift up the women on their roster,” she said.

Leah Sparks meets a fan at a recent show. Photo by Melanie Martineau, FMLUTTE

Leah Sparks meets a young fan at a recent show. Photo by Melanie Martineau, FMLUTTE

Pushing the envelope as a female in the industry is something she’s familiar with since she is part of an aerial duo act with another female which is rare in circus. There have been groundbreaking changes in women’s wrestling over the last decade that Sparks strives to continue being part of.

What started out as hobbies turned into passions that Sparks has put her heart into. Circus and wrestling are interchangeable in her life as she puts equal dedication into them and draws inspiration from both. Staying grounded and true to herself is an admirable quality that will surely skyrocket Sparks’ career.

Sparks will be competing on this weekend Feb. 4 at Women’s Wrestling Syndicate. It is a tag team match with Sam Kelly against Mary Lee Rose and Angie Skye. To get tickets to the event click here.