Alex Riley is a La Crosse native, recent graduate from UW-L, and works a full-time job Monday through Friday... but on the weekends, it's a different story.
He's got a different name, and a different attitude.
AC Riley is a professional wrestler.
"It's weird because everybody else, like at an early age: I want to be an astronaut, I want to be a fireman or something like that. I want to be a wrestler," said Riley.
It was a dream that started becoming a reality 9 years ago at Sunfish Days in Onalaska, where a independent professional wrestling show was being held.
"Some of the wrestlers were walking around promoting the show and talking to some of patrons. They see me with a wrestling shirt on and they're like 'hey, are you a wrestling fan'? Well, yeah of course. And they asked 'do you want to be a pro wrestler'? And of course being 16 years old, of course I want to be a wrestler. I talked about training and sure enough, there was a training camp in Black River Falls and the next week I was in Black River Falls and I was hooked right away."
The rest is history. AC Riley worked 51 matches across 3 states last year. This year, he's on-pace to top that number.
"What's this match going to do for me, what's it going to do for my career? Is it going to get me noticed elsewhere? So, there's a lot of nerves building up to that moment but once you hit the curtain, all that goes out the window. All I'm thinking about is the now. I'm not thinking about the past, not thinking about the future. I'm thinking about that moment."
It's those moments, in the middle of the squared circle, that professional wrestlers like AC Riley live for.
"I don't see myself doing anything else. Yeah, I'm working a real job and I went to a real school and I got a real education but every time I go out on the weekend, I can kind of get away from the worries of work," said Riley.
"I have a pretty big family, but when I'm on the road, I have tons of brothers and tons of sisters. They're my giant extended family and I wouldn't have it any other way."
AC Riley wrestles across the state, but also wrestles for a location promotion in La Crosse called River City Championship Wrestling.
For information on upcoming shows, visit RCCW's Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/RiverCityCW/?fref=ts