Jamie Szantyr was a kid from Waterbury. She ran track, played softball, and cheered in high school. She did college for a while, but it got in the way of something she loved even more: wrestling.
“Wrestling has a shelf life,” Szantyr said, looking back on her decision. “College doesn’t. You can be 50 years old and go to college for your degree. You can’t be 50 years old and train to be a pro wrestler.”
So she left college behind. She left Jamie behind, too. Her new name? Velvet Sky. And in a sport with good guys and bad guys, she was a bad guy -- wrestling for about a decade with Impact Wrestling, formerly known as TNA.
At that time in pro wrestling, success for a woman in the ring was predicated on how she looked and who she walked in with.
“The outfits consisted of fish nets and skirts,” Szantyr said. “And the shorter the skirts, the better.”
She had the look, but she could also wrestle. She was a two-time TNA Knockouts Champion and she was there the night the division started.
“Velvet is very underrated in the ring,” said Dave Lagreca, the host of Busted Open on Sirius XM Radio. “And that’s what she was able to do with TNA -- she got a different type of audience in. Plus, I think to a lot of younger women, she was kind of like a hero.”
Szantyr has now stepped away from the ring. She’s back in school at Post University to finish up that college degree she put on hold. She wants to be a personal trainer, and she’s working with the next generation at a wrestling school in Danbury.
“I’m in really, really good physical condition, still, and my health is great,” Szantyr said. “And I want to keep it that way. I had a really satisfying 15-year wrestling career, so I went back to school because I got to live out my wrestling dream.”
She’s now hoping to help others do the same.