Notice I put “professional” in quotes, not wrestling.
The answer, I’m pretty sure, is ‘not much’.
If you’re bad enough to beat everyone at the next Olympics in Rio, you can clear a cool quarter millio. But that’s not really going to sustain too many careers, as nice as the Living the Dream Medal Fund is.
Then there are some nascent pro ‘tours’ going on. The ACW and Agon are two I can think of, tho I’m not sure what kind of purse they offer. I can’t imagine it’s too much, considering guys on the UFC undercards still aren’t taking in more than a few boxes of ziti each fight.
Guess I don’t really have much of a clue about any of this, so I’ll get to he point. Ben Askren has great blog post where he pulls back the curtain and reveals a few financial details of the professional wrestling world.
Askren was, by all accounts, the best US wrestler to graduate his senior year in 2007, and even with the strong possibility of making the Olympic team the next year, Askren states that he received just two deals; One from Asics for $1,000 and one from Adidas for $3,000. A year. Yikes.
The happy ending to that story, and the point of Askren’s blog post, is that there are now boutique companies, like one of Askren’s current sponsors, Cage Fighter, that was able to offer Kyle Dake, the best wrestler to graduate his senior in 2013, $48,000 a year. Nice. That’s definitely more than I made the first 12 months after college.
There is much more to Askren’s post, and it’s definitely worth a read. People have a lot of opinions about Cage Fighter, the company and Mike, the gentlemen who runs it. Mike isn’t the most popular guy in the wrestling community, (from what I read, I know nothing of the man, nor anything about how he conducts business), but if he’s spending that kind of money on wrestlers’ careers, then I have to agree with Askren’s contention that Mike is good for the sport of wrestling.
Professional wrestling is a tiny, niche, cottage industry. It does not attract a lot of attention from major sports brands. It doesn’t have legions of wealthy suburban kids’ parents that can support smaller brands like lacrosse and soccer. It’s got a rough and tumble, bootstrapping reputation, and the businesses and entrepreneurs that invest in such sports will often be of a similar variety. It’s not perfect, it can get messy, but that’s what we got. Best to make the most of it and keep things going in the right direction.