Once overweight and adrift, Carrie Canatsey worked hard to become a champion bodybuilder — and now she’s seriously training to be a pro wrestler.

It’s a makeover for the ages.

Early in her life, Canatsey didn’t understand how to take care of herself through nutrition. She loved the way bodybuilders looked, comparing them to superheroes. It was then that she made a commitment to fully commit to losing weight — a lot of it.

“I was probably a 350 pounds. And I’m like, I didn’t get this way overnight. So I knew going into it that it’s gonna take some time, and got connected with a mutual friend who actually ended up being my husband,” Canatsey told SlamWrestling.net. “And it, it took probably two years of adhering to nutrition plan or complementary nutrition plan to my exercise. And I made tremendous progress and learned a lot.”

Body transformation of Carrie Canatsey.

Body transformation of Carrie Canatsey. Photo: Rob Sims Studios

All told, Canatsey spent nine years in competitive bodybuilding, 2010-19. The interest in bodybuilding was no longer clicking for her because she didn’t feel like it was competitive anymore. The former bodybuilder then turned to powerlifting from recommendations and was intrigued to see how strong she could really be. She trained in Cincinnati and started competing in Kentucky. In her first-ever competition, her first lift was a Kentucky state record. She continued to build the record further into the meet.

Then her husband got a job opportunity in Florida, so they moved, and she continued in powerlifting, and broke five different Florida state records.

Canatsey reconsidered returning to bodybuilding as she felt that there was unfinished business. But last year, she was invited to attend an event in Louisville as a spotlight guest. In the expo hall, she came across a booth called ‘Eat Sleep Wrestle.’ She met John Cosper and had an hour-long conversation about forerunners in the wrestling industry and the original Black Panther, Jim Mitchell.

“I had a binder full of photos featuring The Black Panther Jim Mitchell, Elvira Snodgrass, and Mars Bennett on my table, she flipped through the book while I told her about each of them, sharing some of my favorite stories; she was fascinated,” Cosper told SlamWrestling.net. “I could tell she had a real interest in pro wrestling.”

Cosper said the former bodybuilder is “made to be a monster heel.” He said that with her height and physique, she can impose a powerful presence like many good heels.

It all came together for Canatsey, who was always interested in wrestling. A fan through the years, she followed WWE, but never thought that it was the right time to become a wrestler, even after she had visited the WWE performance center 11 years ago as a fan.

“There’s a picture that I’ve been sharing around when I was about nine years old, in this bright lime-green sweat suit combo with these big sparkly stars all over it. And I’m hugging this wrestling buddy of Macho Man,” she said. “And you can tell them I’m focused on something, and that was me watching wrestling and almost always being interested in wrestling.”

Young Carrie Canatsey with a Macho Man plushy.

Young Carrie Canatsey with a Macho Man plushy.

Through her conversation with Cosper, she got in touch with Leilani Kai, who connected Canatsey with Natalia Markova. Markova has a wrestling school in Tampa Bay, which is three hours away for Canatsey. The opportunity was there, and Canatsey jumped in. She trained at Markova’s school for a year but decided to leave the school due to the massive amount of travelling to get there and back. Canatsey says that she is grateful and fortunate to work with Markova, a regular in the NWA and the indy scene, and continues to use the biggest piece of advice told to her.

“Take your time. And really nail the fundamentals is there’s a lot of fundamentals that people either they don’t focus on, they said fundamentals and details. And yet, learning not to overthink,” Canatsey recalled as the advice she got. “Because that was one of my biggest challenges in the beginning, and I still I still struggle with a little bit is, I really wanted to be good at it.”

Markova and Canatsey still keep in touch and talk regularly, and Canatsey is still training but at the much closer to home facility run by Championship Wrestling in Jacksonville.

Will Carrie Canatsey make it as a pro wrestler? It’s the ultimate goal, but it’s hard to argue against her … especially after her previous victories.