By Carla Penman

New Zealand's first professional transgender wrestler thinks the sky is the limit.

Leilani Tominiko, or Candy Lee as she goes by in the sports entertainment world, made her debut in 2016.

Since then, the 22-year-old from West Auckland has participated in a number of fights with Impact Pro Wrestling.


One of her signature moves is called the Candy Crush.

"It's like a move where I slam my opponent."

"I think it is [effective]. No one's kicked out of it yet," she laughs.

Tominiko's interest in wrestling grew from early on.

"I got into wrestling when I was ... like 4 or 5. I was at my cousin's house and they put wrestling on, and I just loved it."

When asked whether being transgender affected how she was treated by her peers in the industry, she was quick to say "no".

"I haven't really faced any challenges. Everyone's pretty accepting.

"It's a family-feel vibe with the promotion that I wrestle for. I haven't really faced any form of discrimination ... I just get treated normal."

Tominiko trains up to five times per week for two hour-long sessions at a site out in Henderson.


She takes part in monthly shows and the odd Armageddon expo.

Tominiko says stepping into the ring never gets old.

"It's like an adrenalin rush ... It's fun."

She thinks it's important for people who're passionate about something to keep at it.

Tominiko has her sights set high - she hopes to one day take part in World Wrestling Entertainment.