You are currently viewing This St. Paul native now goes by Kandi Krush, and she body-slams her opponents in the ring

This St. Paul native now goes by Kandi Krush, and she body-slams her opponents in the ring

After stints as a swimmer, actor and boxer, Amberley Shaw has found a home in women's professional wrestling.

Amberley Shaw left her home in St. Paul to pursue her dream of becoming a synchronized swimmer in the Olympics. But a “toxic environment” prompted her to step away. After moving to Los Angeles to try an acting career, the self-professed jock started boxing to regain discipline and her drive to compete.

COVID shut down her boxing gym, while pneumonia later knocked her out of a big pro fight. It was then that Shaw saw an online ad promoting a tryout for Women Of Wrestling. And, she said, “something inside me just felt like this is it. This is what I was made for.”

She signed with WOW in November of 2021 and Kandi Krush was born. Eye On St. Paul recently chatted with the 39-year-old about her transformation from synchronized swimmer to actress to a “superhero” of Los Angeles-based WOW. This interview was edited for length.

Q: What is it about wrestling that you find alluring?

A: I didn’t grow up watching wrestling, I was too busy upside down with my head in the water to do anything but train pretty much. I just felt it like deep in my soul. You know, when you get that gut feeling and you’re like, “This is it. I’m going to drop everything I’m doing right now.” I actually told them to recast me for a Disney show that I was about to do a guest star on because my tryout for WOW was the same day.

Q: So, you caught the acting bug and now you’re in pro wrestling. I would imagine this scratches that itch as well as being competitive, right?

A: Yeah, I feel like I think one of the reasons I was drawn to wrestling is because it combines the artistry and the athleticism together and that was my ultimate goal. You know, doing action films does the same thing. You’re entertaining people while you’re showing your ultimate level of athleticism, your brute strength and skill. So, it’s right up my alley. I love being under the bright lights of a big show, I turn up when there’s an audience. I just thrive off of the energy. 

Q: What’s a signature move of Kandi Krush?

A: My current finisher, I would say, is the “lights out,” which is the Olympic slam. It’s a very strong move, you know, as in boxing, lights out, that’s it, they’re done. When I hit that lights out, that’s it. It’s a 1-2-3, it’s over for my opponent.

Q: Can you describe it?

A: Essentially, you’re picking a whole human up over your head and slamming their body with total force down onto the mat. As you can imagine it takes all the wind out of you. It’s basically like getting in a car accident. I basically have one arm of theirs over my head. I’m latched on to their leg. I lift them up. I turn them over to the side and we both go down and I slam them hard on their back.

Q: Remind me not to make you angry. What is your record as a wrestler?

A: You know what, I don’t really keep track of my record of wins and losses. There was a point not too long ago where I took a couple of losses and I let those get to me. So, I really tried not to focus on my record and just keep focusing forward. I will say that I have one of the best records in WOW. And I will say that I am a front-runner for being a potential champion.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: WOW is my full focus. It’s my entire life. I also have the pleasure of helping our head trainer in assisting the newcomers to WOW. I debuted a bunch of newcomers to let them know that they have to go through me to see if they stand a chance in the WOW ring. It’s really just my entire life, training and getting ready for season three.

I’m now part of Top Tier, which is the name of my faction, with Coach Campanelli and Gloria Glitter. So we’re the elite of all elite athletes. We are what we call the best team in all professional wrestling.

Q: What advice would you have for a young person thinking about professional wrestling?

A: I would say just start training. Whether it’s lifting weights, getting endurance — because wrestling is just the behemoth of demanding on your mind and body. And so just start getting physically fit. You need to be an elite athlete pretty much to be a wrestler, although, you know, especially on WOW, you’ll see that we come in all shapes and sizes. So, it’s not about necessarily a specific aesthetic. It’s about being your strongest self.

There’s also wrestling schools you can get into, which is what I’ve had to cram in since I didn’t grow up watching wrestling. It’s not just physical; we got to put on a show.

Q: What do you want people to say about you someday?

A: That I wasn’t afraid to take a chance and give it everything I’ve got. That I inspire people to be their truest selves and to go after their dreams and their goals. Because I’ve sacrificed and done everything that I could to get what I want, you know, leaving my family behind to go pursue my dreams. Taking on a whole new sport late in life. I basically started everything late.

I started [synchronized swimming] when I was like almost 12. That’s really late for synchronized swimming. For boxing, I started when I was 22. But I didn’t turn pro until I was, I don’t know, whatever I was when I when it was 2018. And I started wrestling you at 35, 36. That’s late. I went against the grain. I did what set my soul on fire and I pursued it with every fiber in my body. I want to inspire other people to do the same.