Perception is reality.
While that is a cliché that is used quite often — sometimes to the point of overuse — there is truth in that statement. What people perceive is eventually going to turn into reality.
The perception in combat sports is that a woman would not and should not step into the ring or octagon with a man. The perception is that it is a mismatch heavily in favor of the man.
Even in professional wrestling — a sport that is not totally based in reality — the common perception is that a woman should not be able to hang with a man. A woman should not be able to compete on the same level as a man.
Don't tell that to the women or professional wrestling that wrestle against men on a weekly basis on the independent circuit. While inter-gender wrestling not something typically seen on WWE television on a weekly basis, more and more independent promotions are pitting members of the opposite sex against each other.
Leading that charge is University of the Arts graduate and Seattle native Kimberly Frankele, better known to wrestling fans as Kimber Lee.
As Princess KimberLee in CHIKARA, Frankele is not just another women's wrestler. As a matter of fact, she's not just another wrestler. She's the face of the promotion and represents it as its primary champion.
In December of last year in Philadelphia, Frankele won the CHIKARA Grand championship to become the first woman in wrestling history to win the primary championship of a male-centric promotion.
While her historic victory made some headway in convincing people that women can compete for the same accolades as men, there is still a good portion of people out there that haven't quite opened their mind up to it just yet.
Frankele doesn't ignore that segment of the fan base. She knows it exists, but is determined to help change that perception.
"Everybody has his or her opinions," she said during an interview with philly.com. "Everybody is not going to like the same flavor of ice cream. It is what it is and I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully change some people's opinions."
"I would say that I use it as some sort of fuel because it makes me want to work that much harder to make it look that much more real and more believable so that they go, 'Wow! This girl is really, really good and she can get in the ring with men and compete just as well as they can,'" she added.
Frankele believes that her hard work has not gone unnoticed, as she sees the perception changing slowly changing.
"I think more and more people are coming around to it everyday," she said. "I've even seen some reviews of shows that I've been on where they say, 'I don't particularly like inter-gender matches, but this one made me actually go, 'Hey, this was really good. I enjoyed that.'" Anytime I see something like that I feel really accomplished."
It is a bit ironic that Frankele made history by winning CHIKARA's Grand championship, as both are trying to change perceptions and make history at the same time.
For CHIKARA, it is attempting to change the perception of what people see as professional wrestling with its stories and characters being presented like a comic book come to life.
CHIKARA will make more history on March 19 in Gibsonville, N.C., as Frankele will defend the Grand championship against fellow female competitor Heidi Lovelace. It will be the first time two women will vie for the primary championship of a male-dominate promotion.
"One of the greatest things about [CHIKARA founder] Mike [Quackenbush] is that he's always had so much faith in the women wrestlers," Frankele said. "Even from earlier shows, women have had major parts to play in his company and it just shows that he believes in us."
"It's an awesome feeling to know that somebody has so much faith in me as a professional and as an athlete that their willing to give me their top spot," she added.
"I love the being the flag bearer for a company like CHIKARA. It's such a great place. I'm proud to say that I am that. It's a great feeling to have and to have so many good people who are also on board with me backing me up."
Frankele's mission to change fans' perception of inter-gender wrestling will not happen overnight. It will take some time, especially considering that her platform isn't that large being on the independent circuit, but at some point, she hopes to make the perception that women can compete with the men on a widespread level a reality.