“Fighting saved my life”: lawyer Hughes Bernier transformed into Damian Wild in the arena to get his life back

The NSPW is the most successful wrestling federation in Quebec. This Saturday, June 15, she will present her flagship gala, Golden Opportunity XIV, at the Pavillon Guy-Lafleur, in Quebec. Behind the eccentric wrestlers in the ring are hidden personalities in everyday life, who have to juggle their often demanding job, their family and their passion for wrestling. The newspaper invites you to discover the true lives of these extraordinary athletes.

At 35, Hughes Bernier was earning a very good living as a lawyer when the comfortable bubble built around him burst. Strained relationships, mood swings, breakups and depression turned his world upside down. It was by becoming the wrestler Damian Wild that he extricated himself from his malaise.

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Two years ago, the litigation lawyer was on sick leave. His health, both physical and mental, was reaching low points.

Recognizing that he was getting stuck, Hughes Bernier decided to get help. The professional who led him back on the right path encouraged him to take the leap towards a somewhat repressed passion that had driven him since his childhood.

“I had to learn to find myself and I was recommended to go for something intense, which would destabilize me. I looked at the top of my to-do list and I told him that I couldn’t become a wrestler at 35… He looked at me and said: “Well yes, that’s right!”, he confides smiling.

Drastic change

In the NSPW lobby, Hughes Bernier is building a good reputation as Damian Wild.

Photo ANDRÉ BEAUPRÉ, NSPW

It was at the NSPW academy that Hughes Bernier began to unearth the old buried dream. After only six months of perfecting his art, he won his improbable bet: to wrestle as part of a Generation NeXt show, which is in a way the school club of NSPW.

Obviously, basically, the reflex of a good, serious lawyer was to avoid publicizing the affair, but the masks quickly fell.

“When I came back after my leave, my bosses realized that I was no longer the same person. I had lost about 50 pounds and was in great shape.

“I told myself I had to explain to them why. My colleagues and clients now know that I struggle and ask me lots of questions. Recently, a judge took me to a room alone. I was wondering what I did wrong and he started telling me he was a big wrestling fan and we chatted. The reception everywhere is really positive. I have not experienced any taunts or reprimands,” he assures.

Common traits

Don’t think that the courthouse and the arena are incompatible. Hughes Bernier and his alter ego, Damian Wild, embody overwhelming proof that the two realities go well together.

“I understand that this makes people wonder. Yes, being a lawyer is a serious job with a code of ethics and everything, but there is a strong connection between this profession and wrestling.

“As a litigator, I have to express myself, I have to be extremely fast on my skates to have repartee and it’s very theatrical. I cannot make my points in front of a judge in a monotonous manner. It’s the same thing for selling a story as a wrestler,” he explains.

No regrets


In everyday life, wrestler Damian Wild is more like Hughes Bernier, a lawyer who claims to have been saved by wrestling.

Photo STÉPHANE CADORETTE

Today, the man of law is pleased to have made room in his daily life for the showman, even if he knows very well that this second facet of his life fuels his mind more than his account in bank.

“The struggle brings me more expenses than gains. I don’t have any significant cash inflow and I’m happy to do that. “It’s the price to pay to live my passion,” he smiles.

After all, the cost is very low when compared to the benefits, which largely outweigh the cost.

“I meet great people, I make connections, I am very involved in the federation. On a personal level, I can say that wrestling literally saved my life.

“I was in a phase where I really hit rock bottom. Wrestling has helped me fitness-wise, attitude-wise. With my children, my colleagues, my bosses, my friends, I feel a better person,” relishes Hugues Bernier.

Perhaps after all, wrestling provides something much truer than the denigrators think.

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