By Perry Lefko
Andrew McRae has come a long way as a professional wrestler, and even further as a film maker documenting the world of the squared circle, in particular a coach who has influenced his grappling career.
McRae, who wrestles out of Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga, has just completed his first documentary, Ring Of Dreams, about Toyohiko (Yuki) Ishikawa.
He is a world-renowned wrestling master, but it was a long, arduous journey from Japan to become one that is the basis for McRae’s film. It documents Ishikawa’s history, travelling the world to learn from legendary wrestling figures such as Karl Gotch and Yoshiaki Fujiwara on his way to establishing the original BATTLARTS in Japan in the mid-90s, before coming to Canada to teach his craft at Battle Arts Academy.
Battle Arts was started by Anthony Carelli, a Mississauga native who wrestled in World Wrestling Entertainment as the character Santino Marella. When Carelli conceived the idea to create a gym which would help aspiring wrestlers learn the craft, he called on Ishikawa to become his lead instructor. Carelli learned the craft from Ishikawa and convinced him to come to Canada.
The gym opened in September, 2013, featuring a ring for wrestlers who paid to learn the art of the sport, with the prospect of performing in a show in front of a crowd. McRae was among the first wave of people who joined Battle Arts and performed under the name Ronnie Wallace, a takeoff on his Scottish background and tying in the character William Wallace. McRae wore a kilt and wielded a sword, shouting “Freedom,” the key word uttered by Mel Gibson, playing the character of Wallace.
McRae has subsequently changed his ring name to Freedom Wallace. He has alternated being a good guy (face) and a bad guy (heel).
He has been a tag team champion with Bradford Montague since winning the belts in July. They call themselves Clan Freedom.
In between wrestling, McRae has been shooting videos for Battle Arts and has also begun his own promotion.