Scottish-Israeli wrestler Noam Dar is getting set for one of the biggest fights in his career, writes Danny Stone.
A stand-out contestant on the recent Challenge TV show ‘British Boot Camp’, Noam will this Saturday night be wrestling at the SSE Wembley Arena for TNA, one of the biggest wrestling companies in the world.
Dar has lived in Scotland since he was five but has never shied away from his Israeli heritage. “When I first started, my name was beneficial as it was quite unique for British shows. I don’t ram my identity down people’s throats, but I’m more than happy to have it as part of my representation in wrestling,” he said.
When Dar started he was affectionately known as the Israel Icon. “I came out with the flag and I’d speak a bit of Hebrew but when I tried to mix in English, the Scottish accent would come out and it made it appear like it wasn’t genuine,” he said. However, addressing top wrestler Samoa Joe on the Boot Camp programme, earned Noam wide respect.
Despite being openly Israeli, Dar has not experienced any particular hostility in all his years in the business. He says: “I live in a small village, there’s no animosity, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. In wrestling, I don’t put out my political opinions so there’s never going to be anything past a couple of jokes here and there”. In fact, Dar says the Jewish fan base has rallied around him, as he hopes they will on TNA’s UK tour. “I’ve been at shows and people have come up and said they’re Israeli or Jewish,” he says, “I’ve even spoken to some in Hebrew! I think it’s great that the Jewish people have a good community spirit.”
And it’s not just UK Jewry supporting Dar as he has a significant Israeli following too. “When I was 16, I did an interview with a big Israeli sports website that ended up on the front page and had almost 70,000 views. There were really positive comments although some of them were ridiculous like ‘Finally, Israel’s got a Hulk Hogan!’”.
Luckily for Noam, his mum keeps him grounded “She’s a strange combination of typically Jewish but also typically Scottish. In that sense when I told her about wrestling at Wembley, I expected the response would be “well make sure your room is tidy before you go!”
For Noam, the enormity of performing at Wembley is overwhelming . “I honestly don’t think I’ll appreciate the gravity of it until it happens but I hope it will be rewarding”. No doubt, with a strong Jewish contingent amongst the North-London crowd, Dar will be the toast of Wembley.
Noam Dar and the stars of TNA IMPACT WRESTLING are in Glasgow (Jan 29), Manchester (Jan 30) and London (Jan 31). Tickets are still available from http://gigst.rs/TNA15. Follow him on Twitter @NoamDar