by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: At 25 years-old Finnish wrestler King Kong Karhula can already be described as a veteran to some degree. Karhula debuted for Fight Club Finland (FCF) under the name Ibo Ten and has been in matches ranging from curtain jerkers to main events and everything in between. In 2012 Ten changed into Karhula and has had arguably the most success of his career. Karhula defeated fellow Finnish wrestler Valentine in August 2012 to capture the vacant FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship. Karhula was a strong champion holding the title for 393 days and defending it against some of the top wrestlers working in Europe today. Names like StarBuck, Big Van Walter and Karhula’s old foe, Jessica Love all had matches with him during this run. Karhula continues to wrestle for FCF today and has also wrestled for such companies as Germany’s European Professional Wrestling (EPW) and Pro Wrestling Fighters (PWF) as well as Sweden’s GBG Wrestling and Svensk Wrestling Syd (SWS). Karhula can be found on Twitter here and Facebook here. This interview was completed on December 16, 2014. In this interview Karhula and I focus on his work for FCF.
Daniel Johnson: How would you describe yourself as a wrestler in a few words?
King Kong Karhula: King Kong Karhula is a big menacing maniac with a background in technical wrestling, siphoning power from the cosmos. His finishing maneuver, the light eater is the last thing his opponents will see before the end.
Daniel Johnson: When did you first come to FCF and what are your memories of your first match with the company?
King Kong Karhula: I was mesmerized by professional wrestling from the first match I ever saw. In 2003 wrestling found its way to Finland, I attended the shows for a couple of years and there was no doubt, I’d do my everything to be a part of that. In 2005 that would come to fruition. I debuted in the summer of ‘05 in a small sports hall in Jarvenpaa, a town near Helsinki. In front of maybe a hundred attendants, I stepped through the curtains and tried to make a mark in the industry. It’s all a bit fuzzy now, almost 10 years later, but I can still remember the crowd chanting my name before my entrance, the feeling was amazing.
Daniel Johnson: You are getting closer and closer to having worked for FCF for 10 years. How has the company grown and changed in that time?
King Kong Karhula: FCF Wrestling is actually a continuation of Pro Wrestling Finlandia (PWF), its predecessor. And boy have we grown. Everything from the ground up, setting up the ring, the lights, the music to the in-ring product, training and advertising has progressed to a whole new level. We were good in 2005, but the current FCF makes those guys look like amateurs. It’s not a coincidence, that we have become one of the best companies in Europe.
Daniel Johnson: For readers who have never been exposed to FCF what is one thing you’d like them to know that may convince them to check it out online or maybe even buy a ticket?
King Kong Karhula: The quality of the in-ring product. Talent from all over the world have praised Finnish wrestling for its quality, and we’re getting better every single show. We have a whole host of matches hosted on YouTube at www.youtube.com/fightclubfinland.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into some of your biggest successes in FCF, in 2012 you defeated Valentine in a tournament final for the vacant FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship. What are your thoughts on that match and what was the experience like of capturing the title?
King Kong Karhula: That tournament was a challenge, I had a slobber knocker in the semi-finals against Jessica Love just 15 minutes before the final. It was draining, but when I pinned Valentine’s shoulders for the one, two, three I was rejuvenated. The feeling of knowing you’re the best, and having the proof of it in your hands is exhilarating, you can get hooked to that kind of stuff you know?
Daniel Johnson: Do you believe that was the most significant moment in your career up to that point? If not then what was?
King Kong Karhula: Yes, I do. It was and is a great testament to what I can do at my best. But I would go on to make more magic and I still think my best years are way ahead of me.
Daniel Johnson: Your first defense was against StarBuck, who I believe also trained you. What was it like working with your trainer in such a high profile match for FCF? Also, did the fact that he trained you make you stress out at all about putting on a good performance?
King Kong Karhula: I think it was my third time wrestling against StarBuck, who indeed trained me. And of course, wrestling against your mentor and a Finnish wrestling legend always makes you jitter just a bit more than you normally do. But in the end, I was the top dog at the moment, and he was finally in my ring, and I made sure he would know that by the end of the night.
Daniel Johnson: In your second defense you wrestled Big Van Walter in a match that was not only outside of FCF, but outside of the country! You defended it in Pro Wrestling Fighters in Germany. What was it like defending the title abroad?
King Kong Karhula: It was a challenge for sure, working on Walter’s home turf and defending not only the championship, but the whole of Finnish wrestling was putting pressure upon my shoulders for sure. If I couldn’t make the defence successfully, I would have been shunned as the guy who left the championship abroad.
Daniel Johnson: What was the experience like of working with Big Van Walter? Also, are there any other German wrestlers you would like to wrestle with?
King Kong Karhula: Walter was a professional through and through, we had a good, intensive match and really got the crowd going. As for the talent in Germany, there are so many I’d like to work with, Ecki Eckstein, Scotty Saxon, Da Mack. I could go on and list the whole damn country!
Daniel Johnson: Among your other defenses you also had some matches for the title involving Jessica Love. What are your thoughts on these performances and on Love as a performer?
King Kong Karhula: My matches against Jessica hold a special place in my heart. We really don’t get along, but when we hit that ring in a match, we always tear it apart. It’s just a great feeling when there’s someone you can go with any day, anytime and know you can put together something really special. And by the way, she like to hit hard, no one person has ever made me see as many stars as Jessica Love.
Daniel Johnson: You ended up dropping the title to Tuho Torvinen in September 2013 after over a year as champion. What are your reflections on this match and of working with Torvinen in general?
King Kong Karhula: Of course you’re going to be disappointed when you lose the title. But we had a really special match that night. I’ve heard some good crowds over the years, and this was one of the better ones. When Tuho finally managed to pin me, the eruption of the crowd still reverberates through me like a jolt when I recall that night.
Daniel Johnson: What one moment sticks out to you most about your run with the FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship?
King Kong Karhula: Working on the top, having great matches against a lot of talented people is the thing I got out of the run.
Daniel Johnson: In January you had a three way match where you had the chance to regain the title in a match with Torvinen also involving Heimo Ukonselka. However, you have not had a title match since then. How important do you think championship titles are in wrestling in general. Is regaining the FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship currently a goal for you?
King Kong Karhula: Championship is the goal. Always. Sometimes you drift away from going straight to the top to deal with something personal in the ring, but it’s always in the back of my mind. I think it’s an important part of the business, the chase, the run, the loss. It’s something integral for wrestling and it’s a clear indicator for who’s the top guy at a given time.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of titles, FCF is also one of the companies represented by Chaos, the holder of the European Heavyweight Championship. I was curious what wrestlers have you worked with who have held this title and do you have any good stories to share?
King Kong Karhula: I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Chaos, I’d love to challenge him for the title one day. I’ve met the man and worked on the same cards as him, but that’s as far as it goes. No good stories about this I fear.
Daniel Johnson: In 2014 you have wrestled a lot with El Excentrico. How did this program begin and what do you think most works about the chemistry you have with Excentrico as an opponent?
King Kong Karhula: It started as a surprise roll up in a regular match, I kind of lost it after that and went down a different path altogether. It made me make some changes in my game, which I’m really pleased about right now. Excentrico left for the UK to pursue new career paths in wrestling, I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
Daniel Johnson: What do you consider to be your best match in 2014 and why?
King Kong Karhula: We had an awesome tag team match in GBG, Sweden with me and StarBuck vs. Conny Mejsel and Harley Rage. I’m really happy about that one, everything really fell into place.
Daniel Johnson: I also had some questions about your career outside of FCF, but before I move on is there anything else you would like to say about FCF?
King Kong Karhula: FCF is my home, I’ve gone from training to being a professional wrestler to training the new guys who come in. I’ve gone from a small boy into a man you see before you now. It has made me and defined me the last decade, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Daniel Johnson: In Sweden you have wrestled for GBG and SWS. How did you first come to wrestle in Sweden and what do you consider to be the best match you have had there yet?
King Kong Karhula: I love wrestling in Sweden, I’m not the first to say, but the crowds there are amazing! My favorite match in Sweden is also my favorite of 2014, the tag team match of me and StarBuck going against Conny Mejsel and Harley Rage. I’ve never seen a crowd that pumped up, I clearly remember getting thrown out of the ring and my ears hurting because the crowd was so loud. We really tore the place apart, and it’s one of my fondest memories in the business.
Daniel Johnson: Do you have any other stories about your experiences in Sweden?
King Kong Karhula: Malmo has the best kebab in the world, there I said it. In 2013 I had a match against Conny Mejsel as my GBG debut, after the show we were hauled to this really shady looking back alley. We were told to go in this worn down looking garage, everybody was saying it was the after party. You could hear faint music coming through as we stepped in the garage. Passing a few cars and people making out we arrived at what we at the time thought was the back wall. Lo and behold, it opened up to a full fledged English pub, with beer and people and music. I was mesmerized at the sheer impossibility of the place. Needless to say, we had an awesome after party.
Daniel Johnson: As mentioned you have also wrestled in Germany including a 2012 match where you wrestled Eddy Steinblock for the EPW World Heavyweight Championship. How did this opportunity come about and what was the experience of working with Steinblock like?
King Kong Karhula: Steinblock is an institute where he wrestles. I was presented with a opportunity to challenge him, so of course I took it. I had a great time working there, had a blast with the boys. German food and hospitality is a thing to behold.
Daniel Johnson: I first saw you wrestle on the FCF YouTube channel as Ibo Ten. I was wondering what made you decide to change your ring name to King Kong Karhula?
King Kong Karhula: Ibo Ten was born when I was just starting out at the tender age of 15. When I grew as a performer and a person, I thought that I needed something new, something to reflect on the passage of time and my maturing as a wrestler. So I ended up with King Kong Karhula, which is really who I’ve become.
Daniel Johnson: This is a very random question, but one I kind of feel I have to ask. Please don’t answer it if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Anyway, at least in the United States KKK are very infamous initials because of their association with the hate group, the Ku Klux Klan. Do you have any concerns about having KKK as your initials in wrestling even though they have nothing to do with the aforementioned group?
King Kong Karhula: I think it’s abundantly clear that I’m in no way affiliated with the group. I don’t have any concerns on the matter, they’re just letters, the meaning behind them couldn’t be more different.
Daniel Johnson: To end interviews I like to ask five non-wrestling questions and then some very brief wrestling questions. First, what is your favorite song to come out in the past year?
King Kong Karhula: Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing.”
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
King Kong Karhula: E=mc~2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation [by David Bodanis]. Read it if you like physics and/or history.
Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the past year? If so what has been your favorite of these?
King Kong Karhula: I really can’t recall, but I really like Mexican or Indian.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to wrestling, ribs and road stories can be plenty of fun. Do you have any that you could share?
King Kong Karhula: There’s so many, it’s hard to pick one. We went with a big group to England a couple of years ago. We had a really long overlay and we still had a six hour bus drive in the middle of the night. We had so many bad jokes and ribs it’s hard to remember them all. One of my favorites was when the biggest guy in our group went to the local gym, he’s a quiet and sweet guy, but when he left for the gym all he said, “Well, I guess someone has to go and show these locals how iron should be handled.” We were cracking up like no tomorrow. Of course, the gym was closed for the day and he had to walk in the rain the whole trip to and from the gym. Poor guy.
Daniel Johnson: Other than yourself who is one wrestler 25 or under you think readers should know about?
King Kong Karhula: One of my trainees Ricky Vendetta is a real prodigy. He really could go anywhere, I’m very proud of what he has accomplished in the short time he’s had in the business.
Daniel Johnson: What, if anything, has been the weirdest part of working for FCF?
King Kong Karhula: Weirdest part for me, is the fact that I’m actually here. All around me I see motivated and talented people full of desire and passion. I’m really glad I can be a part of that and continue to push Finnish wrestling forward towards more greatness.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
King Kong Karhula: Thanks for reading the interview. If you’d like to hear more from me please follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/KingKongKarhula and Facebook at www.facebook.com/kingkongkarhula. Thanks again for the read and let the cosmic power run through your body like it does in mine.
Check out King Kong Karhula in action! This TLC match from FCF Jatkosota 2013 in which Karhula defended the FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship against Jessica Love was voted match of the year for 2013 by FCF fans:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews