Making a difference: Fund-raising child's play

Dapto pro-wrestler and TV star Benny Coles (Iron Jay), centre, holds fans Patrick and Shaun Townsend. With them are fellow wrestlers Jamie Novak, far left, and Melissa (Mighty Mel) Attard. Picture: GREG ELLIS
Dapto pro-wrestler and TV star Benny Coles (Iron Jay), centre, holds fans Patrick and Shaun Townsend. With them are fellow wrestlers Jamie Novak, far left, and Melissa (Mighty Mel) Attard. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Dapto pro-wrestler Benny Coles became a cult hero as the face for I&J frozen fish in advertisements under the name Iron Jay.

Coles runs a mobile personal training business and still competes in the ring but one of his greatest loves is putting smiles on children's faces.

He and a team of wrestlers do that free-of-charge for KidzWish.

At a recent Super Wrestling Heroes Kids Disco Party they raised more than $1000 and they plan to do three more fund-raising events for KidzWish in 2014.

Iron Jay, Mighty Mel and the Super Wrestling Heroes also performed at the 2013 Stockland KidzWish Christmas Party for 4300 special children and carers at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

Last year Coles and his friends raised more than $2900 for KidzWish.

Every $50 they raise sends a child to the KidzWish Christmas Party and last November they got to see just how many kids wishes they granted when they got to perform on stage. KidzWish marketing manager Karouna Micheal said they were wonderful with the children.

"We are really grateful that Super Wrestling Heroes have chosen to support the KidzWish Foundation," Mr Michael said.

"Benny Coles has been very involved with our foundation since 2012. He first helped bring smiles to children outside the WEC at the 2012 Christmas Party before they entered the venue and was a huge hit with the kids.

"The money raised also helps us continue to fund vital services and programs that enrich the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children in the Illawarra."

Coles described KidzWish as a fantastic local charity.

"We love supporting the KidzWish Foundation," he said.

"Our aim is to get as many donations as possible and spread awareness about the KidzWish Foundation while providing a fun environment for children of all ages. When they put us on stage last year to perform at the big Christmas party that was unbelievable."

Coles said he loved what he did for children and described it as something he was passionate about.

He and Melissa Attard (Mighty Mel) both compete in the AWF.

But they pulled together a group of entertainers when they were approached by some parents asking about whether they did kids entertainment.

Coles said many people got to know who he was through the television commercials.

"With Iron Jay people recognised me and asked if I would do active after-school coaching for kids," he said.

"Some parents saw me doing that and asked if I could come to their child's party. So I thought I could get a few of us and make a show out of it. We have taken all the violence out of it and kept all the fun aspects of wrestling. We can go to schools and do educational stuff and convey an anti-bullying message as well. We have a lot of fun with it. We have the costumes, the characters and the kids look up to us as heroes.

And of course you can't have heroes without villains. We do a lot of competitive games such as tug-of-war and sack races. The baddies always make clowns of themselves and lose along the way."

The Super Wrestling Heroes can still be hired for non-charity events and last week they performed at a free fun holiday activity and disco at The Shellharbour Club.

"It only started with me, Mel and a villain but it has grown to seven of us," Coles said. "We have only been doing it for two years."

Coles's team give considerable time volunteering to do free shows.

When he is not doing that he does as much paid work as he can with his mobile fitness business, Ben Coles Personal Training, and from providing wrestling entertainment at birthday parties.

Last month the Super Wrestling Heroes did their first Melbourne party.

Ms Attard, 22, is presently studying at University of Wollongong and wants to become a high school history teacher.

She is one of Illawarra's few female wrestlers and has been competing once a month for about six years.

"I was 15 and saw a live show and wanted to be involved straight away," she said.

"We are still small in numbers but women have a championship now in our company [AWF]. I do this [charity work] though because I love it."

Jamie Novak, 17, is doing his HSC at Figtree High School and said he loved the experience of giving out positive energy.

"Seeing all the kids enjoying the show and laughing makes you feel good inside," he said.

All the members of the team from the Illawarra and Sydney come together for the big KidzWish Christmas Party and recently travelled to perform at a school at Mount Druit.

Coles said they met as many requests as possible.


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