Jenny Sjödin is Professional Wrestling. From her peerless grappling ability to her intense training regimen to her no-nonsense demeanor, Jenny is the prototype of what a wrestler should be. Her determination to succeed and her respect for the sport make her someone who any company would like to have as competitor, and champion. We catch up with her just days before she has a chance to become that champion for the UK based Pro Wrestling Eve promotion. She will be facing current champ Britani Knight for the belt this Saturday in XWA. Learn more about Jenny before she captures her first, of surely many, major wrestling titles.
You’re competing for the EVE title this weekend. What would it mean to win the title for the preeminent women’s wrestling promotion in Europe?
I always get somewhat emotional before big fights and tend to think they mean the whole world. I let that emotion inspire and push me harder. Last year I focused more on big international grappling events where I ended up with two silver medals. I decided early that this year was gonna be more about pro wrestling and I refuse to see myself placing second best again. Losing is the worst feeling of all.
You and your opponent Britani Knight have traded leg kicks over twitter. You seem very intense and focused on this match, while Knight seems to think this will be an easy defense for her. What do you think of her as a wrestler and champion?
As a wrestler she is great and my respect for her is probably the reason for my strong motivation. When you don’t respect your opponents it’s easy to get sloppy and relax too much, which is exactly what she seems to be doing. I don’t have much respect for the fact that her whole wrestling career is a spotless success story. She’s always had the back up she needed and a gym around the corner, while I had to leave my home country to even find a decent gym. It’s about time Britani learns that life isn’t a bed of roses.
In EVE you’ve been most associated with April Davids who is your stablemate, tag team partner, and chief rival. What has working with and against her been like? Has she made you a stronger fighter?
Indeed. We differ in style – more and more the better we get I’d say – but when both of us have a good day we really are equally strong on the mats and push each other to the limit. Fighting and training with her is a good way of realizing your strengths and weaknesses and I’m proud to have her as a team member.
On October 8th and 9th competitors from the Ice Ribbon promotion of Japan will be making an appearance in EVE. Which of their wrestlers are you most hoping for a chance to display your skill against?
This event is going to be incredible. I’m looking forward to see all of them but I would love more than anything to get a shot on Emi Sakura. She is an outstanding wrestler and I have so much respect for her.
Most people who get into wrestling do so because they liked American wrestling as a child, but your motivations are quite different. Who are the wrestlers that inspired you? What was it about them that made you want to follow in their footsteps?
It wasn’t until I was 17 and stumbled upon the documentary GAEA Girls that my interest for pro wrestling was born. The focus and intensity portrayed hooked me straight away. Their wrestling style and training methods were so different from anything I had seen before. They never gave up no matter how difficult it became, and that to me that symbolises true passion. Strangely, some might say, that was also the moment my admiration and utmost respect for Chigusa Nagayo took off.
You’ve stated in the past that wrestling in Japan is one of your main professional goals. Who are some active Joshi you dream of taking on?
I’m gonna say Emi Sakura again, she really is one of the best wrestlers of today – and Ayako Hamada of course – but Yomiko Hotta is probably topping the list. She is a great inspiration to me and I’ve loved watching her since the first time I saw her.
Likewise, a number of fans would like to see you in the US. Which current US/Canadian wrestlers would you most want to face?
Someone once compared me to Sara Del Rey and I felt truly honored by that. I know by watching her that I would enjoy wrestling her. Also Sarah Stock, Mercedes Martinez, Nicole Matthews, Cheerleader Melissa, Amazing Kong… there are just too many.
Already though, your wrestling has allowed you to travel extensively. What have been some of your favorite places to visit?
New York was amazing. Madrid was also very nice and recently I’ve been to Helsinki – a place I liked much more than expected.
You train in multiple disciplines of martial arts constantly. How has this benefited you as a professional wrestler? Do you find it gives you an advantage over opponents who just train in pro wrestling?
Without a doubt. Training MMA has taught me to always have a clear game plan and patiently stick to it. Freestyle wrestling has given my explosive takedowns and the grappling has given me thousands and thousands of various submissions. It’s put me on a level above any other female pro wrestler in the west, I’d dare say.
Have you ever had to deal with criticism from people in the MMA community for your work in wrestling or vice versa? If so, do you tend silence them with words or rear naked chokes?
Haha! Some people, especially in the MMA community, are pretty secteristic and narrow minded. They wouldn’t even put their baby toe in another discipline and think that theirs is superior. I honestly don’t have time to bother, they only have themselves to blame for missing the opportunity to better their skills.
How often do you get to put your training into competitive use outside of pro wrestling ?
It depends on what I put my mind to. Last year I did about five grappling events. This year it won’t be as many, but it looks like I’m competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in two weeks. Then I’m hoping to do at least one more tournament in the autumn.
Fergal Devitt and Zack Sabre Jr. both had a hand in training you. They’ve been getting a lot of talk internationally lately. What are some things you took from them and what are your thoughts on their success?
I’m incredibly happy to see them succeeding worldwide. I’ve only trained a few times with them and they’re very inspiring. Zack Sabre Jr. has a good flow and rhythm. Fergal Devitt has taught me a about ring positioning, about how to stay dynamic at all times, and how to make your holds and whole game tighter.
There’s a brief clip online of you wrestling Portia Perez, one of the best in all of wrestling, and one of the most notorious. What was the match like? Did she try any of her underhanded tactics on you, or otherwise do something horrible?
Surprisingly, she was quite nice. I bet she wouldn’t be today as I’m much better than I was at the time. I was very green back then and also suffered from an infected chest bone. I would love to wrestle her again though.
You were very close to being Nordic women Champion in the inaugural tournament for that title in Fight Club Finland. How do you feel about Miss Mina assisting Aurora in her over you? Do you have plans for Miss Mina or capturing the title?
That was so upsetting. Then I had a second shot at the title a few weeks back where Aurora secured the victory by pulling my pants. What none of them understand is how much stronger this makes my anger and determination to get the belt. I think we’ll have a rematch not to far from now.
You are a clean, but very aggressive and intimidating fighter. Sometimes crowds feel sympathy for your opponents. Does it ever bother you to get booed for simply being so skilled and prepared? Or do you block it out?
I try not to let it distract me although sometimes it’s just impossible. I feel like they don’t have any right to boo anyone who puts their foot in a wrestling ring, but least of all me who’s been working so hard to get where I am.
In both the US and Japan there have been more instances of inter-gender wrestling. You yourself have often wrestled men and, for lack of a better term, manhandled them. Do you think it’s important for there to be more opportunities for men and women to compete as equals?
I like variation, just like the different disciplines I train, I’m convinced it only makes you stronger. I hope more inter-gender matches could mean that guys stop feeling so humiliated when being defeated by females. I also think some women would improve by wrestling guys.
You have described yourself as very liberal and have written politically. What are some of the causes and issues most important to you? Do your political ideas effect how you approach your fighting?
A quite wide spectrum of issues regarding feminism, personal integrity and democracy are closest to my heart. At the moment I write a lot about the authorities’ lack of respect for civil rights both in Sweden and internationally. I’m sure the writing keeps me clever and my intelligence is essential in the ring as well.
You’ve often worn pigtails when fighting, is their any meaning behind them? Or is it just your personal style?
While other wear make up and extensions, I wear pigtails. It makes a nice contrast.
What are some of the things you like to do for leisure, besides fighting and training? What are some of your favorite bands, books, movies and shows?
I like the contemporary philosopher Ronald Dworkin. One of my favorite books is Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics. I also enjoy reading some of the big names such as Sartre, Kafka and Camus. Good music is Le Tigre, PJ Harvey, Bob Dylan to mention a few. Good movies are Blue Velvet, The Key by Tinto Brass and Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession. Twin Peaks is great and I recently watched The Wire and got totally hooked.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in wrestling thus far? What goals, besides winning the EVE title, are you looking forward to accomplishing in the future?
Not only to wrestle for, but also being in the top fighting for the title in, what is considered the top female promotion in Europe is a great achievement. A little more than two years back I moved to England and started wrestling for Pippa L’ Vinn. At the time that was a massive step up for me.
I really want to win and get to represent the Nordic Women’s title. I also want to wrestle some of the females in US, but going to Japan is still the biggest dream.
Once you win the EVE title, who would you like to give the first shot to and why?
The most natural one would be April Davids as she has proven to be such a tough opponent and she is so enjoyable to fight. I would like to face Saraya Knight, Blue Nikita and Nikki Storm as well.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans? Anything else for Britani?
Yes to my fans. Thanks for all the support, it really means everything to me. Keep believing in me and I’ll do my best to not disappoint you.
I think I said everything to Britani here: