Stacey McInnes is a proud Fale Dojo graduate. The Kiwi-born McInnes gained her initial training in pro wrestling while living overseas before returning to NZ in 2019 to broaden her skills at the Dojo’s three-month professional wrestling training course. McInnes is also a second-generation wrestler, her grandfather Sam McInnes was a national amateur wrestling champion in the 1930s and served in World War II. Stacey McInnes holds the distinction of being the Dojo’s first female graduate in addition to completing three consecutive intakes. Much of the experience that the young lioness gained from the Dojo and applied to her craft are also valuable skills more recently transferred to her role as a Corrections Officer for the Department Of Corrections.
“I moved from Auckland to Hamilton for work after completing my third intake at Fale Dojo,” said McInnes. “I bought a house in Hamilton after selling my house in Australia in order to make the move back home permanent. I’m loving life in the Waikato [the region in which Hamilton is located], although I really miss the Dojo and the staff and trainers.”
“In my role as a Corrections Officer, I work in a violence prevention programme with men who have been released straight out of prison,” she explained. “The living conditions are somewhat like how we lived at the Dojo back in 2019. The men sleep in one room together at a marae, so I can understand a bit of what they go through: They live and breathe with no personal space, and sometimes tensions will arise just from being in each other’s faces 24/7.”
“I’ve applied all of my experience at Fale Dojo to this particular job,” said McInness the graduate.
“I believe that being the only girl in three intakes prepared me for the work environment. It’s absolutely hilarious how I’ve ended up in this role,” she said with amusement.
“I was also the eldest of the young lions and one of the few with life skills,” stated McInnes who lived and wrestled extensively in countries around the world such as Australia, Japan, and the United States. “But even with my life experience to my advantage, I came away a much stronger person both mentally and physically.”
“I was pushed right out of my comfort zone in a safe environment where a lot of trust was established,” she revealed of the Dojo’s training that helped shape her. “As a team, we were equipped to withstand and navigate our way through a wrestling match at a high level, as well as the wrestling business, and to a larger extent, all of life’s challenges.”
“I’m privileged to be able to apply the values I learned at the Dojo in a role that’s helping people to rebuild their lives,” said McInnes, a lifelong advocate for mental health, social change, and equity.
She added: “We support these men through engaging in discussion, to encourage discipline and achieve their goals: More importantly, we exercise empathy.”
“It’s also inspiring to see Fale-San launch onto his social media platforms and in interviews to bring light to issues that weigh heavily on people,” McInnes noted about Toks Fale, her trainer at Fale Dojo. “Fale-San’s positive influence goes a long way and it is greatly appreciated.”
“I feel very blessed to be a product of the Fale Dojo training system,” McInnes expressed with gratitude. “I’m also very proud of our Dojo family and to see how much it’s grown in the last two years.”
“I still miss the wrestling business, the training, and the brotherhood,” McInnes said in closing. “I hope to return to the ring one day.”