By day, a mild-mannered clerk. At night, a pro wrestler

Family time around the TV on Sundays helped inspire woman’s career choice.
Published December 22 2018

During the day, Claritza Lugo folds clothes in a Target off a highway near Brooksville. Lugo, 21, enjoys her time alone, arranging the displays and making sure everything is in place for shoppers. She describes herself as shy.

After work, everything changes.

She pulls up black leather boots, dabs on dark purple lipstick and becomes the center of attention.

Lugo is a professional wrestler and has been doing it for a year-and-a-half.

She yells while delivering air kicks and punches to her opponent.

The crowd boos and shouts at her.

She lifts up her hands and shouts back.

Her love for the sport was ignited long before Lugo realized she had what it took to be like the performers she saw on TV.

Lugo recalls gathering with her sisters and parents in their living room to watch pay-per-view matches on Sundays.

Her parents' garage is covered in portraits of famous wrestlers, such as Shawn Michaels, Dwayne Johnson and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Lugo's own photo hangs over 30 framed images.

"I think that's a reason why I'm a professional wrestler today," Lugo said. "It takes a lot of heart."

It takes even more, she said, to be a female pro.

There aren't many women in the sport, and it’s easy to get hurt if she and her partner don't perform the moves properly. They have to protect each other in the ring.

"It's a two-way dance," Lugo said.

At her recent match, little girls in the crowd began to squeal and cheer as the women wrestled. One held up a sign of support.

Lugo said being a wrestler has helped her become more confident - in her body and in herself.

And she is proud to set an example for those girls.

"I just want them to know they can do anything they set their minds to."

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