In a moment of pure sporting brilliance, the worlds of wrestling and Formula E collided in a clash Sam Bird will never forget.
The NEOM McLaren icon has solidified his place as one of the greatest drivers on the planet. But ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix, he swapped the car for the ring.
In a bid to immerse themselves in the culture, Bird and his teammate, Jake Hughes, made the undeniably brave decision to go toe-to-toe with the toughest men Mexico has to offer – The Lucha Libre. With a storied history, the masked performers, who’ve produced the likes of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, gave the two motorsports stars a memory that will last a lifetime.
Setting foot inside the ring, Bird, filled with excitement, watched on in awe as the wrestlers dived off the top rope and showcased all the skills necessary to sell out shows in Mexico on a regular basis.
Inspired by what he’d seen, the 37-year-old had to try it for himself, going head-to-head with the ferocious athletes and his good friend, Hughes, in a battle for the ages. But despite impressing the Lucha Libres, he doesn’t intend on pursuing a career in the sport any time soon.
Sam Bird loved wrestling with the Lucha Libres
In an exclusive interview with Sporf, he said: “I’m not going to be a wrestler, let’s put it that way. It was incredible. The skill set that they’ve got is phenomenal. With the altitude in Mexico City, to do all the jumping and spinning and flying through the air is amazing. Wrestling each other was super hard. I was tired.”
Speaking on whether he and Hughes would win a special Formula E / Wrestling crossover match, he chuckled: “No way. Have you seen the size of them? Absolutely not.”
Sam Bird compares Formula E and wrestling
While Bird was taken aback by the athleticism and dedication displayed by the Lucha Libres, he’s more than aware that he operates at the top level of an equally difficult sport.
With immense power and staggering speeds, getting behind the wheel of a Formula E car is no easy task, and Bird is very aware of just how good the 22 men competing in the Mexico City E-Prix are.
He explained: “I have this discussion about all sports. When I play golf and see a professional, I think, ‘How do they do that? It’s incredible. I’ll never get to that level’. But if they came into our world, they wouldn’t get within 10-15 seconds of what we do.”
Nevertheless, his wrestling experience did nothing but grow his bond with his teammate, who he holds in very high regard — even if he supports Aston Villa rather than his beloved Manchester United.
The seasoned racer chuckled: “The only thing that’s wrong with Jake, is his supporting of Aston Villa. He’s a really good driver and a lovely guy as well, so, it’s a great match. I’m feeling very positive about being in the McLaren family. We’re going into the season encouraged by what we’ve done over the Winter months. Now, we put it into practice, and hopefully, we both score some decent points this weekend.”
Sam Bird is passionate about Cheetah Conservation Fund UK
Throughout his career, Bird has solidified a reputation as a fierce competitor, willing to put it all on the line to get the win. However, when the Brit isn’t racing, he’s focusing on his love of animals, doing everything in his power to help the charity — Cheetah Conservation Fund UK.
He beamed: “I love animals. I absolutely adore them. I got introduced to it by my manager. She invited me down to the big cat sanctuary a few years ago. To be honest, I was taken by these animals, so when given the opportunity to become an ambassador, I thought, ‘Why not’? They are endangered, and if I can help in any way, shape or form, I’m more than happy to do that.”
The 2024 Formula E Hankook Mexico City E-Prix is available to watch live on TNT Sports this evening.
Featured Image Credit: Formula E