AP PHOTOS: French wrestlers perform – to benefit unemployed

March 3, 2018

IVRY-SUR-SEINE, France (AP) With revolutionary slogans and a message of support for the unemployed, this was no ordinary wrestling event.

Muscles bulging, hair flying, the wrestlers put on quite a show - with losers tossed out of the ring in the grand finale. But the aim of the catch wrestling gala in the communist-run Paris suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine wasn't to make a profit or showcase celebrities.

Instead, it was celebrating the anniversary of a charity group called the Association for Employment, Information and Solidarity with the Unemployed and At-Risk Workers.

A wrestler nicknamed ''The Red'' sported a Russian-style fur hat and a hammer-and-sickle T-shirt. An advertising poster portrayed a masked wrestler gripping French President Emmanuel Macron - decried by critics as a ''president of the rich'' for his pro-business policies - in a stranglehold.

Saxophonists marched in wearing headgear and capes, just like wrestling heroes.

In a mass fight, one team simultaneously hoisted opponents onto their beefy shoulders and tossed them down. The group's two women drew cheers in a one-on-one fight.

In the corridors of the municipal sports hall, the wrestlers stretched their legs or recovered from a punishing match.

At the end, excited children clustered around the ring, seeking autographs. Those attending included people from all walks of life, many talking about the injustice of France's decades of high unemployment.

Entry was free for kids and just 8 euros ($10) for the rest, and the 1,200-capacity hall was full. Funds go to the nonprofit association.

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