On June 22, former NXT UK Superstar and retired wrestler Yasmin Lander, also known as Charlie Morgan, spoke out on Twitter against the Knight family—more specifically Saraya Knight (Julia Hamer) and their school, World Association of Wrestling.
Since, Smith has released another statement to Bell To Belles, along with three women who served as former trainees under Knight: Hannah Holmes, Alice Smith, and Ayesha Raymond. Below is their joint statement, as given word-for-word to Bell To Belles.
In light of the allegations, the statement has not been altered in any way, including grammar. The statement reads as follows:
“What you will read below are stories that have come from people who have trained under this company/promotion who had been subjected to physical & psychological abuse. By no means are these stories on par or being compared to some of the horrific sexual abuse cases coming to light. However together we share our stories today in hope that it will bring light to situations that have occurred, these people claim to have wrestlers best interests at heart, they claim to speak out for the voiceless and to be a safe space for all, when in fact the truth is quite the opposite. In order of this kind of abuse to STOP it must first be heard by #Speakingout For years this company has manipulated trainees in many different ways!
I have personally witnessed along with many others where female trainees were made to get in the ring (under instruction from head trainers within the family) to show their ‘aggression’, during this time they would be physically beaten (not worked) to be made an example out of in front of a room full of people. Women have also been brutally beaten in the ring during matches on a professional show by a female trainer who when she ‘felt like it’ or was ‘having a bad day’ she would physically assault her opponent where it would no longer be a “work” and the girls would no longer be selling but would come out battered and bruised, crying and feeling helpless, there would be no explanation and were just left to feel like it was ‘part of becoming a wrestler’. One of the head female trainers also deemed it necessary to grab and grope men’s genital region for a ‘laugh’ or again if she wanted to make an example of someone almost as a somewhat threat. All of this from abusing their position of power to making trainees feel helpless, scared and manipulated.
I remember one of the trainees telling me they were booked for Brian Dixon at 14 years old and went to do a show with the family. The family later told them after the show Brian said he wouldn’t book them again because they don’t have anything about them that stood out. A member of the family then told them she had got them another booking with Brian and they were going to dress them up as a school girl because ‘Brian liked that’ and ‘they could work for him whenever if they wore that stuff’ they supplied all of the gear. Tartan and white, with a school shirt tied. They had members of the family egging them on, telling them them they looked like a woman, they were even told by another wrestler in the family that they’d better not wear it too long or they’d get a “hard on”. They were literally only just 14 the year of those two shows.
A member of said family tried to coerce three of their trainees into having sexual activity with a group of friends. Those same trainees had WWE tryouts a few months later, When the trainees didn’t partake in the sexual activities that they were being persuaded to undertake, one of the trainees very suddenly and for no real explanation had their WWE tryout revoked, another member of the family then spread the ‘Rumour’ around that the reason that trainee was taken out the tryout was due to a ‘Porno video’ of them doing ‘the rounds’ which was untrue. Another member of the same family found out about the sexual suggestions and asked the trainee who’s tryout was revoked to ‘keep quiet’ about that night even though the trainees felt manipulated, unsafe and vulnerable.
I remember vividly at a party the head female trainer dragging another female trainee around completely unprovoked, ripping her tights, pulling her hair and simply humiliated her in front of 30+ other people/workers just because ‘she felt like it’ and thought it was ‘funny’. I was a witness that night and to this day will never understand why anyone (including myself) didn’t stand up and do something about this incident. It’s the same reason nobody else did anything about this display of abuse, people were fearful and scared of the repercussions. This is just a small insight to the types of abuse that was common place.
Two of the head trainers would literally picks fights with some of the trainees to provoke aggression, punching people in the stomach to get a reaction and backing trainees into the corner posts and egging them to come at them and not backing off until they did, forcing these trainees to then hit back with this aggression they had built up! Some had hair pulled out deliberately and one of the trainers would say things like ‘If you haven’t lost any hair then your match wasn’t good enough’ ! There was a particular incident in where a tag-match, one of the teams where made up for 2 trainees, the other team had the head female trainer and an establish female wrestler within the company. One of the trainees got brutally attacked without any cause by the head trainer and the other trainee remain unharmed. The unharmed trainee could see the trainer laying into the other trainee punching and hitting them so badly that the person was no longer selling and visibly in excruciating pain. This trainee finished the match and was inconsolable afterwards not knowing what they did to deserve this brutality, whilst the other trainee remain unharmed. This is a perfect example of the trainer picking and choosing when and who they want to manipulate and abusing their power by what only can be described as physical abuse.
Coming out in their private life was a very difficult thing for them to do, before they were even ready to publicly ‘come out’ to friends & family close to them, their trainer at the time had got wind that they were seeing a girl in the area, that same day they were publicly embarrassed and humiliated as they entered the gym to train, as they walked in the gym in front of everybody they were greeted by their trainer – ‘When were you gonna tell everyone you were shagging a girl!’ ‘gay are you’
They wanted the ground to swallow them up, those 48 hours mentally were horrific, they then checked online to see the newly found ‘gossip of their coming out’ to be online, to be mocked and joked about! They hadn’t even had the chance to personally tell their close friends & family. They were not ready they was made too.
There’s a particular female who was blacklisted, from working for other companies and called a liar by many promotors, even when there was proof. The people close to this girl told her they didn’t want to get involved, out of fear.
She was angry at the other female workers in the company at the time, for letting the bullying go over their heads and not morally question the things that were happening, because you see the problem was, it wasn’t the boys that didn’t protect her it was the girls; and the most toxic person she had ever met in wrestling was a women.
This woman’s family knew everything about this girl and used it against her to a point where, if she didn’t comply, she would be threatened in a locker room with others in attendance.
She remembers being called a liar, a troublemaker after small things that occurred, she would be blocked from shows and promotions and couldn’t even attend events to watch in fear of backlash.
She was replaced on the families shows all because she woke up one day and realised there was more to life than their little bubble. All she ever wanted was to be a wrestler, just not ‘their wrestler’ and even though she managed to stray away from it all, she suffered for it for years to come, because the toxic woman and her family in question were sour.
When she finally joined a new training school, her new trainer was ambushed for allowing her to achieve her goals, the woman would complain to the new trainer that the girls attitude was disgusting and that it would all become to personal by him helping her, which was completely untrue. She has messages from the woman calling her an ungrateful c*** .
This family are notorious for bullying and causing havoc but everyone’s always afraid to say anything.
In her opinion and some others her wrestling career was fragmented and stagnated, because she wasn’t allowed to achieve or work in the industry as she wanted, because she didn’t play by their rules and their puppet game. It’s taken much longer for her to expand and grow as a wrestler, a performer, and do what she originally trusted them to train her for, what she paid for, what she gave her life for, all because of the way the the toxic woman acted.
Promoters before meeting the girl were told by this woman that she was a troublemaker that it was too personal to be in a locker room with her, this woman completely manipulated everyone around her and made her life hell, for anything she wanted to do in the future, all because she left the abusive and nasty environment, in which they trained people in to go somewhere better.
This continued for years and people would still not speak out because of fear, fear of the reputation of this woman and her family.
There was a time where she tried to meet and reconcile with the woman, at one of the shows, even after a horrible performance of power play and the woman was racist to the girl by saying ‘if you continue with your black mentality (one that was also apparently possessed by her teammate) they would not succeed in wrestling. All of this happened shortly after her team mate defended one of the families sons in a racial accusation attack on social media.
She is one of many stories that came from that place and one of many who have been abused manipulated, degraded and racially abused, but for the most part, people are so afraid of this woman and her family that they continue to let it all happen!
Girls have been solicited to an older men for the personal gain of the company or family.
But this didn’t get deemed as wrong because they had the power to do it, and that power created the fear some of the trainees still have today, which is scary.
This family have broken so many people in so many different ways including the girl who wrote this who was and still is emotionally and mentally hurt from this families trauma and It’s time they were shown for their true colours.
These are just some of the experiences that these former trainees/workers have endured.” – Yasmine Lander, Alice Smith, Hannah Holmes, Ayesha Raymond.
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