The Professional Dart Player Who Takes His Cues From a Former Pro Wrestler
With face paint, colorful hair and a whole lot of personality, Peter Wright is taking the darts world by storm
There was something odd about two-time Professional Darts Corporation champion Peter Wright at the bet365 US Darts Masters at Madison Square Garden earlier this month — and it wasn’t his mismatched socks, neon mohawk or the signature snake painted on the side of his face.
No, what was different at the event, which was the first time the World Series of Darts visited New York, for the world’s top-ranked player was that he didn’t win and instead ended up bowing out in the semifinals after dropping an 8-6 match to the eventual winner Michael Smith.
Win (which is most of the time) or lose (which isn’t all that often these days), 52-year-old Wright is a fan favorite, at least partially because he’s modeled himself to be a larger-than-life character like the pro wrestler he grew up watching on TV in the U.K. Though he liked stars like Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Jim Duggan, Wright’s favorite wrestler was The Ultimate Warrior. (Surprisingly it wasn’t Jake “The Snake” Roberts given Wright’s preferred choice of facial paint.)
“That’s why I like to be different with dressing up and coloring my hair and things like that,” Wright tells InsideHook. “And I like to make the odd comments now and again. I love how those wrestlers used to go at it. ‘I’m gonna rip your head off’ and all those lines. It’d be good if we could do that in darts, but we’d probably get fined.”
The World Darts Championship, unlike wrestling, isn’t fixed. Thanks to winning two out of the last three of ’em and his propensity for hitting bullseyes, Wright has now become a target for the competition. That’s fine with him.
“You know they’re out for you. Everyone wants to be No. 1. and be the champion,” Wright says. “It’s good to be the best. It makes you play better and adds to the challenge. You’ve gotta be aggressive but controlled. Focused. You want to try to show them why you’re No 1. You can say, ‘You ain’t got enough. Go back to the board and practice harder.’”
For Wright, who won his first qualifier in 1995 and now has two World Cups and the 2021 World Matchplay title on his résumé in addition to the two PDC championships, it was practice that made him (almost) perfect. Surprisingly, not all of the practice was physical or even involved a dartboard.
“Sometimes things go through your head while you’re playing as if you’ve already won the game. Your mind gets carried away and you’ve still got half the game to play,” he says. “You have to bring yourself back to the ground and focus. I didn’t do very well the first year or earn very much. I wouldn’t be in control and then panic. I learned from my defeats to forget about all the rubbish and crap and take the positives and move on. You have to learn how to lose first before you start winning. It’s taken a long time to learn how to win.”
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