Jess one of the boys

Coming to grips: Overseen by their coaches, Jess Frank wrestles Gus Vorster.
Coming to grips: Overseen by their coaches, Jess Frank wrestles Gus Vorster.

The eight-year-old said she loved the physicality of wrestling and didn’t mind competing against the boys in her class.

Jess’ father Howard said his daughter had never been interested in conventional sports.

‘We tried dance and all those sort of normal things and she wasn’t too interested and we said, ‘what do you want to do?’ and she said ‘I want to be a wrestler’,’ Mr Frank said.

‘She’s improved a lot.

‘Her strength and balance has improved but most importantly her mental toughness has improved ” she’s more disciplined.’

Gladiator Colosseum Wrestling coach Alan Landy said he had been impressed with Jess’ progress and determination.

‘If you get a girl that wants to wrestle, you know she’s committed, because it’s not the normal sport for girls,’ he said.

‘Ultimately, the girls mix with the boys, they’re all equal on the mat.’

Mr Landy said the lessons taught for wrestling stayed with the competitors for life.

‘Wrestling is all about struggle, perseverance and determination and a lot of those life lessons stay with the kids into their adult life,’ he said.

‘They have a self-belief that grows with every practice and we foster that. They’re only really competing against themselves.

‘It’s gauging their success against where they were and where they are now.’

Mr Landy said Jess had the mentality to succeed in the sport. ‘Jess is killing it,’ he said.

‘The girls are just as strong as the boys up to about 13 and just as determined, if not more determined.’

Jess said she hoped to continue the sport and one day represent Australia.