Wrestling & MMA

Growing up poor, this cancer-surviving wrestler with a cool name fights to end hunger

In a much anticipated match-up, indie wrestler Taeler Hendrix will face WWE alum and Impact Wrestling's Katarina Waters at a National Pro Wrestling League show. The event on Saturday, June 30 in Petaluma, Calif. is also a benefit to help fight hunger.
In a much anticipated match-up, indie wrestler Taeler Hendrix will face WWE alum and Impact Wrestling's Katarina Waters at a National Pro Wrestling League show. The event on Saturday, June 30 in Petaluma, Calif. is also a benefit to help fight hunger. Photo Courtesy NPWL

Sporting one of the coolest names and name spellings in the business, Taeler Hendrix is all about wrestling for a cause.

That's why she enjoys competing for the National Pro Wrestling League.

NPWL's next show -- which is Saturday, June 30 in Petaluma, Calif. -- benefits the plight to end hunger in America. An effort near and dear to her heart, Hendrix will face Impact Wrestling's Katerina Waters (WWE alum Katie Lea Burchill) on an action-packed card.

“This show is going to be wicked,” said Hendrix, a native of New Bedford, Massachusetts. “I’m so excited to be a part of it, and I’m so excited that they chose me as the first female to sign with their company to represent their division. To me, that was a huge honor.”

Hendrix can sympathize with those less fortunate.

“I’m really big and passionate about giving back to causes that I believe in and giving back to the community," she said. "The community helped my mom and I so much, when I was growing up that it was just really important to give back.

“This company — National Pro Wrestling League, NPWL — believes in that as well, and their mission is just so amazing. They want to end hunger in the United States, and I think that’s such a cool thing, because it’s 2018, and we have camera phones everywhere. We have people all over social media posting about products and living the high life, and we have blockbuster movies, but yet there are people who are still going hungry, and I find that to be appalling. It’s disgusting to me that in 2018 we aren’t even taking care of people in our own country, and it’s time for a change. It’s time to be the change and make a difference.”

Each ticket purchased for the NPWL show will feed 10 families.

If you can’t make it to the show, Hendrix still encourages and everyone to buy a ticket online. Hendrix’s personal goal is to sell 300 tickets.

For info, check Taeler Hendrix on Twitter, click:

TwitterTaelerHendrix

She noted: “I saw growing up what it was like for my mom to have to fight to put food on the table, so that I would not go without anything — whether it was clothes, whether it was food, whether it was a babysitter. It was just her and I for quite a few years, and I really saw the strength and the gumption she had to see that through, and I want to give back to people who are going through that same thing.”

TaelerAndHerMom.jpg
Taeler Hendrix and her mom

Growing up. the athletic and beautiful Hendrix is an inspiration, overcoming difficult obstacles — like that and cancer — to pursue and maintain her wrestling objectives.

“It’s not something that I talk about very often, just because I never wanted people to treat me different for anything," she said. "I never wanted people to treat me different because I was poor growing up or I didn’t have a dad, or things like that.

“I never wanted a sob story of any kind. I’ve always wanted to work hard for everything, because I knew by the time I’d be dying on my death bed, I would have appreciated everything I ever did, because it wasn’t handed to me. I wanted to live my life and nobody elses, so I would absolutely have no regrets.

“So when I talk about my cancer struggles, it’s not for, ‘Oh, poor Taeler. Oh, here’s another sob…’ No, it’s because I want people to be inspired and to know that you can get through anything, if you have the right support, if you have the right information, the right tools…just honestly the tenacity for life.

“I really do believe in positivity as a healing process.”

Hendrix’s lineage revealed a long history of cancer.

At 21, she was told by a receptionist at her doctor’s office that she had cancer, something she hid from her family, friends and trainers.

“I thought, ‘I can’t put my family through this,’ so I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell anyone for a month or two, maybe three. Time kind of passed for me on that, so I really don’t remember how much time went by…It was hard not telling anyone and thinking you’re going to die.

“One day I finally broke down and told my mother. I told one of my trainers, and then I decided to get a second opinion, and that’s when I was told I was misdiagnosed. They didn’t understand why they were even doing that test on someone so young, and that could have been the reason it showed up as a false positive.

“I wish I had the knowledge now back then, because it would have been a much different experience. I would have been like, ‘Heck no. You’re checking that again, and don’t ever call me, unless you’re a doctor.’

A huge relief.

“Coming from the track record that my family has with cancer, I didn’t think I was emotionally prepared for the fight of my life, literally and figuratively.”

Misdiagnosed the first time, she wasn’t so lucky the next time.

“A couple of years later, after I put a lot of stress on my body for television and sports and all kinds of stuff — an eating disorder — that all kind of backfired on me all at once, and my test levels showed that I was Level 2, borderline Level 3 precancer, and that was a big eye-opener. It changed my life essentially, because I was like, ‘Wow, it’s been several years, and now this is going on.’

“Because I was borderline, there wasn’t really anything I could do but just sit and wait, which is a really hard thing to tell somebody. ‘Oh, you could have cancer, but you kind of have to sit and wait, because we need to do more tests and biopsies and more tests and more doctors and counseling and this and that and the other.’ So it’s a real hard process, and I really appreciate people who are going through that…I support you all 100-percent.

“For most of my 20s, I was battling with this struggle, this issue, and battling with the reasons why I had those issues. I went through an eating disorder. I went through bouts of depression, suicide that I was hiding from a lot of people, and to find out a lot of those decisions — poor decisions that I made — inadvertently led me to where I was.”

“It really changes you, if you stick with it and have the ability to go, ‘OK, I have to accept this, because I can’t change what’s already been done, but I can fix how it affects me and move forward.’ So that’s exactly what I did.”

She made it through and is cancer free.

Giving back, Hendrix wants to work with Cancer Schmancer, led by actress Fran Drescher (The Nanny). Cancer Schmancer’s mission is to shift the nation's focus from just searching for a cure to prevention and early detection of cancer in order to save lives.

ForInfoClickHere

Since officially debuting in 2008, this fiery red-head has wrestled with some of the top talent in some of the top companies, like Ohio Valley Wrestling, Shimmer, Queens of Combat, Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling. She also appeared on WWE TV.

She started with New England Championship Wrestling. She grew with Ohio Valley Wrestling.

Like so many others in the profession, she has dealt with her fair share of injuries during her tenure. In the earlier stages of her 12-year journey, she dislocation her knee. In 2016, she sustained a concussion via chair shot to the head and moonsault to the face. After her last Shimmer taping in 2017, she decided to rest an ankle fracture and shoulder dislocation that occurred earlier that year. In 2014, she took a few months off after some health issues that she's finally overcoming in 2018.

"Since age 17, I've never really taken time off from wrestling,” she said. “I'm a notorious multi-tasker, and I'm at my happiest when tackling multiple projects. The only time I've taken off has been based around the severity of injuries I've unfortunately sustained over the years.

“Some I took time off for, but most I worked through which wasn't always wise. The longest time off I've taken was for a cluster of injuries I received around the same time. A fractured ankle paired with a concussion and dislocated shoulder. Was awful. Working through it with only top priority appearances was a mistake and I decided to take a few months off. Huge blessing in disguise. I was forced to be creative, and it inspired the rejuvenation of my career and wrestling persona. Since then, I've never looked back."

A roller-coaster ride for sure, NPWL, her fans and her wrestling husband (Cory Machado) helped re-ignite her wrestling passion.

For more info on the NPWL benefit show, click:

https://www.npwleague.com/

What about that cool name.

“My name Taeler actually came from my mom,” Hendrix said. “She’s a writer. She’s been writing since she was a teen. When she read all the books in the house, my grandma said, ‘Well, why don’t your write your own [chuckles]. So my name [Taeler] actually came from a book that my mom was writing when she was in her teens, and when she had me in her early 20s, she decided that would be my name. My father hated it. She loved it, and that’s how I became Taeler [chuckles].”

With a very unique spelling.

“My mom is a very creative lady…I guess I get that from her.”

Hendrix is not her birth surname.

Taeler is a hippie at heart and grew up listening to that type of music, ala Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix appreciates the music and NPWL, and she is also appreciative of her fans, but she's learned there’s a faction of mean-spirited clods on social media. She has Instagram and Twitter but no longer uses Facebook.

“I would rather laugh all the way to my grave than be sad," she said. "I don’t like being sad. I had enough depression and struggles with different things in my life. I just have to laugh now, and people can take that for what it is.”

When it came to watching wrestling as a youth, a struggle existed.

“I was not actually allowed to watch wrestling growing up," she said. "My mother grew up on old wrestling, like in the 1970s. When Lincoln Park was really big, [wrestlers] like Andre the Giant and Chief Jay Strongbow and Paul Orndorff, they would be there.

“When she saw the wrestling going on in the 90s [Attitude Era], she was like, ‘Ohhh, heck no is my daughter going to watch that.’ I remember coming home from elementary school one day, and I gave my mom the DX chop [Taeler laughs], not knowing what it was from, and I got grounded for a month. It was hysterical. I just saw everybody in elementary school doing that, and I was like, ‘Oh yea, I’m going to go home and show my mom what I learned today [laughs].'

“So I wasn’t allowed to watch wrestling growing up, and I just remember, ‘Oh, why can’t I watch it? I want to watch it.’ One of my cousins, who still to this day follows my career, is a big wrestling fan, and when he would babysit me, he would sneak it and let me watch it. I just fell in love with it.”

Her cousin wasn’t alone.

“One of my girlfriends, Amanda, I grew up with her. I played sports with her. When I slept over her house, she would show me wrestling tapes that she had taped from TV. This is dating me, of course, because a lot of people don’t remember [know] VHS [Taeler chuckles].

“We would watch her wrestling VHS tapes and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, Victoria is so cool. Oh my gosh, look at Trish Stratus. Look at Chyna. What is going on? It’s so amazing.’ When I finally got a TV in my room, I remember the debut of Chris Jericho…That’s when I knew I wanted to be a star in professional wrestling. It was a culmination of everything that I ever wanted for my life."

In high school, Hendrix competed in multiple sports. She also taught public speaking and led the debate team. She enjoyed competing, performing in front of crowds and aspired to be an actress and a wrestler. Pro wrestling covered both.

NOTE: In 2015 in Season 10 of NBC’s America’s Got Talent (with Mel B, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern), Hendrix’s longtime friend, singer Samantha Johnson, also from New Bedford reached the semifinals.

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