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Claudia Reiff Interview



23 August 2003

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This week I managed to interview “The CLAW” Claudia Reiff. Claudia is the head referee at the Funking Conservatory as well as being Personal Assistant to Dory Funk jnr and his Wife Marti. On top of this Claudia has recently been voted one of the top refs on the Indy circuit. We chatted about many things regarding her personal career as well as the Funking Conservatory including the possibility of it becoming a WWE developmental territory.

Hi Claudia how are you doing today?

I am doing fine, thank you for asking.

You have established yourself as a fundamental part of the Funking Conservatory both in and out of the ring, how did you get started in the business?

I have been a wrestling fan for years and besides Dory and Marti Funk, I can also call Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blancard close friends. I needed a change in my life, so I moved from Miami Beach to Ocala, ran into Dory and Marti and the rest is history.

How did you come about the name of the "CLAW"?

A friend of mine in Miami gave it to me about 6 years ago, she said "Claudia" was to long, and besides, I also own 4 cats, so it just kind of fit!

The Funk family are one of the most famous families in Wrestling history how did you get involved with them?

I ran into Marti and Dory a long time ago at The Miami Beach Convention Center during the old Championship Wrestling From Florida Days, I usually picked up Ric Flair, Arn and Tully from the Airport and stayed backstage, so from time to time I ran into Dory and Marti, and when I moved to Ocala 3 years ago, they remembered me.

You are Dory and Marti Funks Personal Assistant how are they to work with and what are your thoughts on the family and how you have been treated?

They are the best to work with, The Funk family name is one of the best in the business, and I am treated with the utmost respect, as I treat them and everybody else in the business. Do unto others as they do unto you! Dory and Marti are not only people I work for, they are my friends.

You are currently head Referee have you ever considered pursuing further a career in Woman’s Wrestling?

A long time ago, when I was younger, I did consider being a Wrestler, but at the time, there were no schools in Florida and I could not afford to go out of State, I was in College and could not leave, but that is O.K., I got an Education and enjoyed every minute of it. My Degree is in Health, Physical Education and Sports Management, I did Referee on the College Level when I graduated and in High School when I was a teacher. I am a proud graduate of The University of Miami, GO HURRICANES!!!! (The Rock also graduated from The University of Miami!!)

What is your opinion of the standard of women's wrestling these days?

Higher than it use to be, I would like to see more Athletic Women as Wrestlers, most people today conceive the Women in the business as Eye Candy, but for Women such as JAZZ, LITA (who Dory trained in Ocala), IVORY, JACQUELINE, MOLLY HOLLY, and TRISH STRATUS, who has turned into a fine Wrestler, that is what it's all about. And for the Tough Enough Winners, their day will come, but there is also a place for the Managers/Valets.

You see a lot of talent on a day to day basis and watch a lot of Wrestling, what is your current opinion on the Wrestling scene as a whole?

For awhile, when WCW Closed, the morale was low, younger wrestlers thought they now have no place to go, but with proper training, it is possible to make it to the WWE or New Japan Pro, or even NWA/TNA. Professional Wrestling is a serious business, and with the WWE being the only game in town at the moment in The United States, who knows, but the business is in need of good young talent who one day will be the backbone of this business. I would also like to see more Women Referee's!! I mean Women Referee's that strictly Referee, not a wrestler with a stripped shirt on just to fill in. I am one of the few Women Referee's on the Indy Circuit today and was just named in a column on 1Wrestling.com, one of the best Referee's overall on the Indy Circuit, Men or Women!!

Being the head referee in the Funking Conservatory you get to work with nearly everyone who of your current talent do you think has the potential to be a next big name in the business?

We do have many great talent that comes to mind, but the outstanding ones are: THE ROYAL STUD ADAM WINDSOR, from Coventry England. He is currently our Triple Crown Champion, and at only 20 years of age, is truly outstanding. He has been training with Dory for exactly 3 years, he has wrestled in Dark Matches for the WWE and WCW, and for New Japan Pro Wrestling. The WWE is very interested in Adam. Adam is a young man who one day, will see at the top in WWE. Another great talent is CHRIS THE BAMBI KILLER from Austria. He has also made appearances for WCW here in America and will one day make a splash in The American Wrestling Scene. Two more names are, THE U.K. KIDD, and NEIL FAITH, both also from England whom have been to the Conservatory on several occasions. They both are very young, but show outstanding promise, and with more training, you will also see their names one day in the records book! One more outstanding name is a rising star from New Japan Pro Wrestling, OSAMU NISHIMURA, he is The Funking Conservatory UNITED STATES CHAMPION. He comes over every month from Japan to be on our shows, he is one of the finest Mat Wrestlers I have seen besides Adam Windsor who have come thru the Camp. Another great talent is THE TEMPTRESS, CLEOPATRA! She is our Women's Champion and a great talent! At only 21 years of age, 5'3, and 110 lbs., she is pure dynamite, she can fly, she can throw the biggest guy around like a feather! She will be someone to watch in the future, WWE, take note!

The Funking Conservatory attracts people from all over the world, what have you thought of the UK talent that has gone through your doors?

WOW! In regards to the previous question, I think that says it all, most of the UK talent that has come through our doors are the best, and we have more coming every month.

A number of WWE stars have gone through the Funking Conservatory if I am not mistaken which of them have you enjoyed working with most?

I have been with Marti and Dory for only 2 years, after the last WWE Camp they had, so I cannot answer this one, but now that the Funking Conservatory is being slated for a new WWE Developmental Territory, who knows what the future holds, we will have wrestlers coming thru in the very near future.....I do want to stress that The Funking Conservatory is Co-Ed, we train Men and Women in all phases of the business, and I myself train the Referee's. I would like to see more Women come and train at The Funking Conservatory, so please, come one, come all........(Remember, Lita went directly from The Funking Conservatory in Ocala to The WWE!!-does not always happen that way, she was in the right place, at the right time)

What changes have you noticed yourself at the Funking Conservatory since you started?

Better talent, better quality of our T.V. Shows, more respect from other promotions around the world. And since I started, I have also become a better and happier person.

Would you ever consider working with WWE?

YES!!

Is there anything left you want to achieve in the Wrestling world?

Hopefully one day, to Referee in the WWE, but I am doing what I love, so no matter where I go, I will love it.

So many wrestling schools are starting up over the world, some which are not very well or not professionally run, can you give us an insight to what day to training is like at Funking Conservatory compared to other schools?

I have not been to any other schools, I only go by what some other students tell us when they come to our School, and most agree that The Funking Conservatory is The Most Complete Package as a School. I can say this, at our School, Training starts when you wake up, in the morning we Workout in the Gym, then in the Afternoons we do In-Ring Training which consists of In-Ring Work, followed by Video/Promo's, then wrestling matches, which are video taped, and the next day in training, Dory watches the video's with the students to critique, then back to Training. The students are also taught proper Ring Entrances, how to work in front of a crowd, etc.....At the end of the week, the students are on a Live TV Taping/Wrestling Show in front of an Audience. What better way to learn the business.

Can you explain to us what your daily tasks and schedule are on an average day as Head referee and Personal Assistant?

In brief, as everyday is not always the same; my tasks consist of answering e-mail's, doing mailouts, tapes, answer the phones, log in new students as we receive their applications, make hotel and airport shuttle reservations, run around town doing P.R., putting up our show flyers, mailing out show packages, t-shirts, etc., keeping monthly camp lists up to date, contacting students to confirm reservations, keeping up the picture windows at our training facility, sending out school information requests to people who do not have access to the computer (we get a lot of request by mail for info as not everybody is on-line)......meeting prospective students with Dory and Marti at the Training Facility for people who want a tour before they sign up....we do have people that drive or fly down just to meet Dory and talk about the program and see the Facilities before they sign up, and 98% of the time, they sign on the spot with a deposit! As Referee & Assistant during camps, I help with rides, teach the ones who want to be Referees right along side the Wrestlers and I myself am watched closely by Dory for advice, Referee the practice matches during camp, show students their spots in the ring, there may be more I can't possibly think of as I do so much...but it is fun and I love it. During the times when it is strictly just office work when camp is not in session, there are days where the work is done in a couple hours, there are also 12 hour days, I take one day at a time! I also keep charge of all the Title Belts and trophies, if belts need repair, take them to the trophy maker, keep track of the t-shirts, merchandise and such......And most important, keep in shape, I work out 5 days a week like a mad women, wrestler or referee, you must stay in shape, that is how I am able to Ref all 10-12 matches every month that we have on our shows! The last couple main events have been 60-minute time limit draws, and I did them in addition to all the other matches on the card, and people ask me how I do it, and I say, I stay in shape......!!

Thanks your time Claudia and keep up the good work, any last comments?

Whatever happens in my career, if I do make it to the top or not, I have achieved so much, I am happy, and for whatever success I get, I owe it all to Dory and Marti Funk, and The Royal Stud Adam Windsor, without them, I would be nowhere! And for anybody out there who wants to become a Wrestler, Manager/Valet, Referee, Writer or Promoter, IF YOU WANT TO BE THE BEST, TRAIN WITH THE BEST, "DORY FUNK, JR." "If you can Dream it, you can do it!!"

See page 2 for photos...

Click here to visit the Funking Conservatory website

Adam Sibley

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