To some people, you may think that Julia Hamer is a nicer woman, a loving wife, devoted mother, and good friend.
That’s outside the ring. In the ring, she’s “Sweet” Saraya Knight, and like her or not, she does her job. She’s as tough as nails and high-impact.
In 1990 Julia left her home in Halifax to take up employment as a chef at the Pontins holiday camp in for the summer season. One day while working in the restaurant she met Ricky Knight, a professional wrestler, part of the cabaret circuit. The two became inseparable, and Julia soon left Pontins to travel with Rick full-time. She became involved in making wrestling costumes and putting the rings up and down. A few months later, Ricky said he wanted her to be part of the show, as a manager in his corner. At Camber Sands, Julia made her debut as Saraya. When the summer season finished Julia joined the Sensational Superflys (Ricky & Jimmy Ocean) as their manager. In 1993 Ricky put it to Saraya that she may want to wrestle. She readily agreed, and was a quick learner, debuting in later that year.
But in the beginning of my article “Knight Rises,” the opening sentence was this: “Five years. Five years of agony. Five years of pain. Five years of reliving the same moment over and over again.” A reference to the most infamous match in women’s wrestling history with Cheerleader Melissa that nearly ended Saraya’s career. Fans can still remember Saraya’s screams of agony, as well as facing the very real prospect of just witnessing the end of her as a wrestler. As it turned out, the doctors had no idea how driven (or stubborn) Saraya is, and she was back in the ring less than eight months later. Surviving an injury was one thing for Saraya. Revenge was another.
Saraya made her debut for the all-female promotion Shimmer Women Athletes on March 26, 2011 at the tapings of Volume 37, along with her daughter and tag team partner Britani Knight (known in the WWE as Paige). Saraya and Britani were managed by the returning Rebecca Knox and made an open challenge, which was answered by Nikki Roxx and Ariel. The Knight Dynasty won the match via DQ after Saraya tried to hit Ariel with brass knuckles and Ariel grabbed them and got caught hitting Saraya with them.
During the October 1 and 2, 2011 tapings Britani entered a losing streak, which eventually caused Saraya to turn on her. Saraya and Britani faced each other in a No Disqualification match on Volume 44, where Britani managed to pick up the win in her final Shimmer appearance, before heading to Florida Championship Wrestling.
During the March 2012 tapings, Saraya once again feuded Cheerleader Melissa, which culminated in a match on March 18 on Volume 48, where she defeated Melissa to win the Shimmer Championship. Revenge couldn’t be anymore sweeter.
Saraya is well known for going after audiences, and at one time popping ring announcer Joey Eastman in the ear and sending security guard Kevin Harvey down on the Berwyn Eagles floor. Whether fans cheer for her, it’s in the ring where she’s at her most vicious.
But outside the ring, she is married to wrestler Ricky Knight, and raising her three children; Zak, Roy, and of course Saraya-Jade; also known as Brittani and now Paige.
In this interview, Saraya will explain her early years in wrestling, as well as the incident with Melissa, pairing up with Paige in SHIMMER, being SHIMMER Champion, thoughts on WSU, and more.
We step inside Saraya’s parlor, where she likes to play.
1. For our readers who don’t know much about you, can you tell us about your early background?
I Started in 1994 as the Manageress of the Superflys Tag Team, Ricky Knight and Gentleman Jimmy Ocean, I was taught whilst on the road and I had to put the ring up and down, clean the caravans/chalets, I had to wash the wrestlers costumes and cook their meals and be a general dogsbody, but in return they taught me not only how to wrestle, but how to look after myself in the ring and etiquette outside of it.
I travelled the whole of the Uk in main events alongside the boys and it taught me definitely how to watch my back as well as protect myself, because the boys were famous for getting the crowd so worked up they wanted to kill us, I loved being part of the old school way it taught me so much and I value every experience however much it hurt.
I started to wrestle and soon found that I could cause mayhem myself, going on against Klondyke Kate, Julie Starr and others whether I was Villain or Blue-eyed was a valuable experience. I carried the persona the Superflys created from when I was manageressing over into my wrestling and the crowds hated me.
I owe the guys alot because without them I wouldn’t be the wrestler I am today. I love the British technical submission style which I feel is my forte but it is slowly dying out, when I train people this is the style I in-still into them before the move on to present day wrestling styles.
2. (Question from Robert W. Kovach) What inspired you to become a pro wrestler?
I was never inspired I just followed the man I loved into the job he loved.
3. What was your earliest matches like?
They were hard, I was having to go on with very established females and I was already well known because of being a manager to a main event tag team, Apart from being extremely nervous I though I really did well until I look back on them now and think my god I was shit lol. The girls were great to me and taught me the female style which was completely different to the boys style I had been taught, but I was willing to learn and hungry for training as I really loved the sport and the family it gave me.
4. Your first match with Cheerleader Melissa ended in controversy five years ago. Can you describe what happened then?
Well I was her opponent at Chickfight 7 and we were in the first round, I was knocked out of the competition after I got twisted in the ropes by my neck and was hanging there on the outside until people managed to separate the top and 2nd rope so my head could be released, I was hanging and fighting for breathe for about a minute or so and whilst I was in trouble Melissa was trying to smash my head in and stop the guys from getting me free. The first encounter was memorable.
5. You debuted in SHIMMER in 2011 with your daughter Brittani (Now known in the WWE as Paige). What was it like to be working in the United States?
I love working in the USA, I can be extreme and shocking and brutal and old school, Shimmer has changed my life.
6. You also wrestled in your native England as well. Care to tell our readers about that experience?
I been wrestling for so long now there isn’t anywhere in the United Kingdom I haven’t wrestled, because I have worked for so long I am part of peoples lives as they grow up and its strange when they come up and say they watched me when they were little and now they are bringing their children to watch me.
In the past the crowds were brutal and would take nothing to turn on you and charge the ring, many times I left the venue thinking how the hell did I survive that! but nowadays its different and the crowds are more family orientated and the riots are few. Well I say that but I was at Croydon a few months ago and ended up fighting in the crowd so the Superflys and Sweet Saraya still have the ability to cause a riot :)
7. The Knight family is rich with wrestling tradition. Your husband Ricky Knight is the toughest guys I’ve ever heard, your sons Roy and Zak, and Paige are young stars in the business. What is like to be a part of this dynasty?
I love that my family are all in the same business, we travel together and room together, its great to have the very people you love most in the world and trust by your side in business and in private, We are a very close family and I feel we are all specialists in different styles of wrestling.
I am very proud of my children and what they have accomplished so far, I know the Knight name will continue and a legacy will be left.
8. The road to the SHIMMER Championship was somewhat controversial as I heard, but a well-deserved one at that. Do you agree?
I did what I had to do to get my hands on Melissa, I waited 5 years for that opportunity, It was a bonus she went into my match as a Champion and I was ecstatic when I took her belt, and from a submission!! I think it was well deserved and I patted myself on my back!
9. Your rematch with Melissa on March 18 was nothing short of shocking. Care to tell us what went down?
I think I answered that in the last question.
10. But despite everything that happened, do you respect Melissa as an worthy opponent?
Ha Ha Ha Ha, She isn’t bad!
11. (Question from Dave Brown) Favorite ride at Disneyworld?
12. You also manage The Superflys, which includes Ricky Knight, and Jimmy Ocean. What were these guys like?
notoriously badass, hard trainers, great wrestlers, they can whip any crowd in a frenzy and they have got me out of quite a few scrapes. I owe them my foundation in the wrestling business, my character would never have developed like it has without their tuition.
13. You’re also be expanding your wrestling experience to Canada on November 3 at nCw: Femme Fatales. What will it be like to be wrestling in Canada?
I’m going to Canada because I want Lufisto and I will get her, I am not going to be any different than I am in Shimmer, I hope they are prepared for me!
14. (Question from Robert Krupár) What’s your opinion on WWE Divas Division, cause now it’s painful to watch.
I’m afraid I cannot comment
15. Paige can be seen on WWE NXT, and a fixture of FCW. How does that make you feel now that your daughter is moving up in the wrestling world?
I am extremely proud of her, she has accomplished so much at such a young age, her career so far would make an old school sweat, she has been on the circuit since she was 15 years old and completed The UK and Europe by the time she was 17 years old. She is an inspiration to all and a fantastic role model for young women determined to succeed in life.
16. (Question from Eric “E-Rage” Martinez, Wrestle Enigma) Would you join your daughter in WWE?
I wouldn’t turn them down :)
17. With the next batch of SHIMMER tapings in late October, you walk in the Berwyn Eagles Club in Chicago as the defending SHIMMER Champion. Do you think you and Melissa will tear the roof off the building again like you did in March?
If she gets a shot at my belt you mean? IF she does I’ll wrestle her like I did before but I have a few tricks still up my sleeves.
18. With the new and improved Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU) returning in October, I had thought that you were a perfect fit for the promotion. Would you like to compete in WSU or are you more comfortable at SHIMMER?
I would love to work for them, Jessica Havok is someone I would like to compete against or tag up with!
19. With the new documentary about the Knights that aired in Britain recently, can you tell our readers what it’s about?
To be honest, it was more about my childrens journey to WWE, it was also about my family and our life in and out of wrestling but predominantly it was Saraya-Jades and Zaks story, I think people would need to see it really, its still on youtube I think, I would not like to give to much away just in case people are still viewing it, watch it and write to me on your thoughts about it.
20. (Question from Martin Bentley) What was the kind of things you got angry at the crew filming during the documentary?
I used to get angry but they were doing their job, some days I wasn’t in the mood or the kids would disappear without telling me (Saraya-Jade) on big filming days, or incessant questions and redoing takes, we are a down to earth family and didn’t want any falseness, it was hard sometimes but we stuck to our guns. The crew were great and Max Fisher is awesome.
21. What does the future hold for you?
I want to go to Japan, its always been a dream and I will not retire until I get there, other than that I want to be in the job travelling the world as long as I can. I still have dreams!
22. In closing, would you like to leave a last message for your fans?
Ok Rebels, do what you want to do, be who you want to be, say what you want to say, never go against your own moral code and always come out fighting!
Yours in Sport,
Also you can follow her on Twitter @SarayaKnight for what’s she has to say.