By Jacqui Goddard
“It has growth potential,” Mr Bowers says. “There’s always a part of the population that will want blood sports. They like cage-fighting, auto racing—they want to see somebody dying, see them crash and burn.”
Diving into bare-handed combat with a creature capable of tearing a human limb from limb may not have Olympic potential. But as the first Native American tribe to venture into the gambling business and the first to buy a big international corporation, the Hard Rock chain of cafés and hotels, for $965 million three years ago, the formerly swamp-dwelling Seminoles think big.
“Alligator wrestling started in the Seminole tribe back when we were forced to catch them for food. Then tourists started stopping to watch ... in the 1920s it was popular but the shows died out by the 1990s. Now we are reviving it, raising awareness about where it came from and where we want it to go,” Mr Holt says.
The competition, the first organised under the FAWC banner, offers prizes totalling $10,000 (£6,500).
Below: "Jimmy Riffle wrestles with an alligator."