180 Seconds With Steph Delandre
How did you get into wrestling and what clubs have you been with?
I got into wrestling when I was growing up through my older brother. One day when I was around ten we were flicking through the TV channels and stumbled upon WWE RAW and I’ve been hooked ever since.
So, I am an independent wrestler, which means I wrestle for various companies within Australia and the USA, but my home promotions are PWA Australia and Newcastle Pro Wrestling.
Can you tell us a bit about your gear and persona?
So, my name is Steph De Lander, and my nickname is “The Python Powerhouse”. I take a lot of inspiration from zookeepers, Steve Irwin, the Amazon, etc., mixed in with a bit of glam.
My other passion aside from wrestling is animals, and my OTHER dream (can you tell I’m a dreamer ha) is to be a zookeeper. Unfortunately, there just simply isn’t enough time in the day for me to be a zookeeper and a pro wrestler, so I’ve decided to work that passion into my character so I can have the best of both worlds!
By being a ‘taller’ and ‘stronger’ female, I wrestle a ‘powerhouse’ style, which means a lot of big powerful offensive moves. It’s a lot of fun.
Did you find it an intimidating sport to get into at first?
Yeah it was really intimidating to start. Wrestling is quite a niche community, so at times, from an outside perspective, it can seem a bit exclusive. Once I started training and began to feel more comfortable, I found it easier. But the first couple of months, learning the ropes, building friendships and understanding the business, were the hardest.
What have been some really testing moments for you both off and on stage?
So ‘off-stage’ the hardest moments for me firstly would be, having to have ten months off going through shoulder surgery. Also, the travelling, late night drives, gruelling training sessions, and missing social/personal events etc. takes its toll on you too.
In ‘ring’ some of the hardest moments for me were probably during my first trip to the USA to wrestle last April. I was thrown in the deep-end so to speak, and it was very sink or swim for me; luckily I swam!
What have been some of the most rewarding/exciting/empowering moments about it?
Well firstly, to be able to sit back and take a moment and realise that I’m actually living my childhood dream is really rewarding.
Moments when fans tell me that I’m the reason they joined a gym/left the house that week to go to a wrestling show/inspired them in literally any way is awesome too. To be able to impact even one person’s life in a positive way is super fulfilling. The most exciting moments have been being able to travel the world doing what I love.
Do you find the Northern Beaches of Sydney a difficult place to branch out into sports like this?
Most definitely - there is virtually no professional wrestling on the Northern Beaches. To put it into perspective, I train 2-3 times per week in the Liverpool area, and I live in Avalon. So, in traffic you’re looking at over 2 hours driving one way. And on weekends we are running shows in Western Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, and everywhere in between. Pro Wrestling in general is a very demanding sport, but if you live on the beaches like me you better learn to love being on the road!
What would you say to someone who was wanting to get into wrestling (or a similar sport) but was feeling hesitant?
I live by the mantra of “I would rather regret doing something than regret NOT doing something, because then at least you know how the story ends.” I love seeing people chasing their dreams. I don’t care if you’re a ballerina, if you’re a strongman, if you’re an artist, if you play the flute; if you’ve got a dream and you’re chasing that shit, those are the kind of people I surround myself with. Be the kid who decided to go for it.
My favourite quote is “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”
What is your opinion on mental health in our area? Any problems or trends that you can pinpoint that make it worse here than in other areas?
I think on the beaches there definitely is starting to be A LOT more awareness on mental health, but honestly and unfortunately, I think that has been triggered by a few really unfortunate cases of suicide in young adults recently.
Have you or anybody close to you struggled with mental health? How are you/they coping with this?
Yes, I have, and people close to me have too. My case is a bit unusual as I basically developed anxiety and depression due to a chronic digestive health issue - long story short I’m out of the woods, and feeling really great at the moment, but there have definitely been some dark days for sure!
Insights/learnings/routines/inspirations on mental health?
All I can share is what I have found to work for me. Seeing a therapist made huge improvements for me. I also journaled every single day during the hard periods, as I found getting my thoughts on paper helped me.
I relied on my close friends for support and guidance, and I know it’s easier to say than do, but find little things that make you happy. I like dogs and Açai bowls and reggae music and the ocean, so when I’m feeling low that’s what I turn to.
What’s next for you?
Well I just landed in the USA for a three-week trip to LA, Chicago, and NY to wrestle for various independent promotions. I will hopefully return to the US at least once or twice more this year. And then the next couple of years my plan is to continue training hard here in Australia, continue traveling interstate and globally to wrestle, and my eventual goal is to sign with WWE.
Interview by Lucy Murray
Any information on this blog is not a substitute for professional advice. It is written from personal experience and research only. If you are in crisis, go to your nearest emergency room, call lifeline on 13 11 14 or dial 000.