It is 5 a.m. in New Zealand when Tony Kozina picks up the phone, but he sounds like he has been up for hours.
The energetic veteran wrestler will be making his way to Squamish to join the Canadian Wrestling's Elite's 11th Anniversary Tour this spring.
"Tornado" Kozina, is a three-time CWE Canadian Unified Jr. Heavyweight Champion, among a laundry list of other accomplishments and accolades.
He's in New Zealand after being hired by Bad Luck Fale, a New Japan Pro Wrestling star.
Kozina, who is originally from Portland, has been training competitors from around the world out of New Zealand at a Fale Dojo, in association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., a Japanese professional wrestling organization.
The New Zealand-based operation is now officially a New Zealand extension of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
His work at the Fale Dojo has kept Kozina away from the first half of the CWE tour, but he is excited to join it in Squamish for the remainder, which will take him to different cities across Canada.
He said he isn't sure yet who he will be fighting in Squamish, but wrestling fans can expect him to come out "all guns blazing."
"I am going to be coming out of the gate, a million miles an hour," he said.
Kozina, 49, has been part of the independent wrestling scene for more than 20 years and isn't a fan of the "dog and pony show" aspect of some wrestling, preferring the more traditional wrestling style with hard-hitting action.
"The nice thing about what we have been trying to do with CWE, which is why I have stayed with them is that Danny [Warren], the owner is trying to stay the course and promote professional wrestling — meat and potato wrestling — especially across the Prairies and in Canada, wherever I have gone, that is what people want."
He attributes his longevity in wrestling, a sport that often sidelines its athletes with injuries, to luck, mostly.
"I know people like to discount luck, but that is what it is. You are silly to discount that," he said. "Not doing foolish things... wrestling smart, taking care of myself and I think good genetics."
He said he still loves getting in the ring and especially the travel his career as a wrestler affords.
Of all the places he has been around the world, he really loves the Prairies, he said.
"I could live anywhere in Saskatchewan, and people look at me crazy, but yeah.... It is away from all the chaos you see in America and everywhere and people going out of their minds in these big cities.," he said.
"Especially at this stage, every show and every time I travel I consider just a bonus," he said.
As for the future, Kozina wants to continue to see the CWE grow.
His ideal would be at the end of a long tour to give the wrestlers 10 days off and do it all again.
"We are almost to the point where we can do that," he said. "We could run through all the 50 little cities and then take a two-week break... and do it all over again."
To take it to the next level, CWE needs a Canadian corporate sponsor.
"We want to put the maple leaf on there, we just need a little boost," he said.
Kozina and the CWE tour will be in Squamish at Howe Sound Secondary on Monday, May 11.
The meet and greet starts at 6. p.m..
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The belll rings at 7 p.m.
Advance tickets available at: Clubflex and The Goat or at the door.
Tickets also available online at www.cwetickets.com
Kozina tour dates
Mon, May 11th- Squamish, BC
Tues, May 12th- Richmond, BC
Wed, May 13th- Kamloops, BC
Thurs, May 14th- Golden, BC
Fri, May 15th- Calgary, AB
Sat, May 16th- Lethbridge, AB
Sun, May 17th- Medicine Hat, AB
Mon, May 18th- Regina, SK
Tues, May 19th- Weyburn, SK
Wed, May 20th- Brandon, MB
Thurs, May 21st- Morden, MB
Fri, May 22nd- Winnipeg, MB
Sat, May 23rd- Thunder Bay, ON
Sun, May 24th- Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Mon, May 25th- Blind River, ON
Tues, May 26th- Elliot Lake, ON
Wed, May 27th- Kirkland Lake, ON
Thurs, May 28th- Sudbury, ON
Fri, May 29th- Toronto, ON
Sat, May 30th- Ottawa, ON
Sun, May 31st- Sorel, QC
For full tour information visit www.cwecanada.ca