Authorities eye Seattle wresting group

Feb. 24, 2009 at 6:49 PM

SEATTLE, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Members of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling said the group could face its end if Washington state authorities declare participants to be professional athletes.

The Washington State Department of Licensing is set to rule Thursday on whether the performers are professional athletes, which members said would subject them to fees and regulations that would put them out of business, or a "fight-cabaret theater troupe," as participants claim, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

The organization was brought to the attention of authorities by a former member, Paul Richards, 40, who said he left the league, which is about 6 years old, after organizers refused to respect his stage persona, The Banana.

"It was revenge, plain and simple," Richards said. "I just told the state, 'Wrestling show, no license, here's the location.'

Trudie Touchette, the Department of Licensing administrator leading the case, said she believes Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling fits "the definition of our law -- wrestling exhibition or wrestling shows mean a form of sports entertainment in which the participants display their skill in a physical struggle against each other in a ring, and either the outcome may be predetermined or the participants do not necessarily strive to win, or both."

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