There’s often a special connection between a father and son.
Sometimes, that leads to a son following in his father’s footsteps.
Joseph Beland decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps in a less than characteristic manner.
Beland is better known as ‘Joe Funk,’ the reigning tag team title champion in the All Star Wrestling league. He decided to step into the ring after his father, known as ‘Freddy Funk,’ was a long-time wrestler in the Lower Mainland.
“When I’m in the ring, I derive my character from my dad’s,” said Beland. “I pay a lot of homage to him, It’s a very nostalgic character.”
Freddy Funk started wrestling in 2001 when Beland was nine years old. Despite growing up around the sport, it’s never something Beland ever considered doing.
“It came to a point where I was just grinding with school and work, and I wanted to get into something else,” said Beland. “That’s when I went for my first tryout.”
Despite 14 to 15 hours of training per week, there was 15 months between his initial tryout and his first match.
“It was hard trying to get that first match,” said Beland. “You show up and you have to pay your dues.
“Once I was in there being a part of it, and seeing how real it all was, it really helped me learn the ropes.”
Beland started fighting on a semi-regular basis as a masked character called ‘Wild Card’. Adam Ryder, the prototypical ‘bad guy,’ would ruin every single one of Beland’s matches. The storyline carried on for four months, until Beland’s masked character and Ryder finally got into the ring, in a match where Beland’s face was unveiled to the crowd.
The storyline with Ryder was essentially Beland’s wrestling break, but it took some time to get there.
“Those first few months were hard,” Beland expressed. “I was fighting maybe once a month. Now, I’m fighting every weekend.”
Beland has taken his turn with a number of different characters including Wild Card, but he hit home with fans in Cloverdale after fighting as his dad’s prodigy, Joe Funk.
However, Joe Funk isn’t always likable.
“In Kelowna, nobody knew who I was, so I pulled off the ‘I should have a title shot because wrestling is bred into me because of my dad’ act. Right away, I was despised,” Beland said.
Since breaking into the wrestling scene more than two years ago, Beland has fought all over the Lower Mainland, the island, and the interior.
“It was just a matter of establishing myself as a character and jumping on opportunities,” he said.
One of the main aspects Beland mentioned while talking about his rise in the ring was the psychology that goes into being a wrestler. His insight quenches some of the hot takes about wrestlers and the sport.
The reality is that wrestling is all on the fly,” he said. You might have to wrestle last minute and wrestle someone who you’re meeting for the first time.”
While Beland defines it as ‘sports entertainment.’ there’s undoubtedly a harsh physical aspect to the sport.
“Every move sucks, nothing feels good,” he said. “It takes a special kind of person to want to do this kind of stuff.”
Beland notes that there’s a huge level of unpredictability, even for those who in the wrestling scene.
“It’s kind of like figure skating,” Beland notes. “You train and you plan all of these moves, but then show up before a match and you get a completely different partner. A lot of improv happens.”
Even though Beland is following in his dad’s footsteps, it surprised his dad more than anybody that he got into wrestling.
“When I told him I was going to contact All Star [Wrestling] and start wrestling, he was shocked,” Beland said. “When he retired and stepped away he thought he was never going to see it again.”
One of Beland’s best wrestling moments was his first fight.
“I debuted out of the same building as my dad. That was a crazy feeling,” said Beland.
Freddy Funk wrestled for more than a decade, but life’s responsibilities limited his ability to travel.
“He was so passionate about wrestling, but because we were kids he didn’t get to travel around. He was stuck in the Lower Mainland.”
Beland is doing his best to get his dad out of retirement and back into the ring. They almost fought together earlier this year, but complications from a blood clot forced Freddy Funk out of the match.
“Hopefully, maybe in the next year, we will get to fight together. That’s the dream.”
Joe Funk and partner Moondog Manson will be defending their tag team title in a ‘fans bring the weapons’ match.
“Keyboards, golf clubs, microwaves, it could be anything,” said Beland.
“We won’t know what’s going to be there until right before the match.”
The card kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Alice McKay building in Cloverdale.