Kanji has explained why she will defeat Gisele Shaw to capture the vacant PROGRESS Women’s Championship, paying a heartfelt tribute to her late father in the process.
Speaking to Inside The Ropes‘ own Innes McVey, the PROGRESS Wrestling star was asked what will give her the edge over Shaw in their decisive third bout to determine the new PROGRESS Women’s Champion. Kanji responded that she has a passion for wrestling unlike anyone else in the industry due to a particular familial connection.
“I think I have a fire in me and a drive that not only does she not have, but I don’t think anybody else has. The thing that got me started in wrestling was watching it from a young age with my dad and I’ve always grown up saying that I want to be a professional wrestler, that’s always been the dream. My dad passed away not long ago before I even started training so before he even got to know that I dived into this industry, he’d passed away.”
‘The Asian Sensation’ went on to discuss how she believes wrestling keeps her late father’s name and memory alive, attributing that drive to her successful recovery from a broken arm and ultimately motivating her throughout her wrestling journey.
“So the drive that makes me want to even more and go even further and fight even harder is just the thought of how proud and how happy he would be if he was here. The fact that I’m carrying on and I’m still going even after this injury and still doing so well, it all comes down to that feeling of ‘If he was here’, you know? Honestly, I really feel like me wrestling and me continuing on this wrestling dream keeps his memory alive in me and within my family. It keeps his name alive and his whole memory with me through this whole journey. It’s that drive that I never want that to go. I feel like wrestling is keeping that, keeping that so strong and that’s what no one else has.”
The 26-year-old elaborated on the tight-knit connection between her wrestling career and her late father, revealing that she prays to him before every match, and how it shows wrestling means so much more than just the sport itself to her.
“Every time I get into the ring, every time before a match, I pray to my dad and hope that he’s watching and hope that he’s happy and hope that he’s keeping us safe. Every time after a match, when I go backstage and I’m so proud of what I’ve done, I instantly think of how proud he would be and that he’s watching. And that’s something that I don’t think anybody else has.
I think especially after such a horrific injury and to come back from this injury and still be driven, even more than before, just shows how much it actually means to me. It’s more than wrestling to me. It’s so much more than wrestling to me: Getting inside a ring, starting after that bell rings and finishing after it stops, it doesn’t stop there. It means so much more.”
Kanji is set to face Gisele Shaw in the final of their Best of Three series at Chapter 111: One Leg In The Air to determine the next PROGRESS Women’s Champion, streaming live via Peacock and the WWE Network at 5pm BST on May 22nd.
You can check out our interview with Kanji in full here.
Photo credit: Rob Brazier / Head Drop Photography