Catanzaro in 2016
Kacy Esther Catanzaro|
January 14, 1990
Glen Ridge, New Jersey, United States
|Other names||Mighty Kacy|
|Alma mater||Towson University|
|Ring name(s)||Kacy Catanzaro|
|Trained by||WWE Performance Center|
|Debut||April 19, 2018|
Kacy Esther Catanzaro (born January 14, 1990) is an American professional wrestler, gymnast and athletics-based television personality. She is signed to WWE, where she competes in their developmental territory NXT. She was the first woman to qualify for the finals of the television sports show American Ninja Warrior and the first, and so far only, woman to complete a City Finals course.
Early life and education
Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Catanzaro grew up and attended high school in nearby Belleville and is of Italian descent. She is a relatively small woman, standing only 5 ft (1.52) tall and weighing only 95 pounds (43 kg). She began doing gymnastics at age 5. She attended Towson University in Towson, Maryland, from 2009 until 2012, studying early childhood education on an athletic scholarship.
Collegiate sports career
Catanzaro competed in gymnastics for Towson in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and was named the Southeast Regional Gymnast of the Year in 2012. She was also named the 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Year and was the top-ranked competitor in that conference for that year.
Obstacle competitor career
Catanzaro spent two years training for American Ninja Warrior alongside her then-boyfriend and co-competitor Brent Steffensen. She did not complete the qualifying course in Venice, California, but was an invited wildcard at the 2013 finals, where she fell early on the Giant cycle/ring.
In 2014, Catanzaro became the first woman to complete the qualifying course of American Ninja Warrior (Season 6), making it up the warped wall on her second try at 5:26.18 at the Dallas qualifiers, ranking her 21 out of 30; this also makes her the first woman to make it up the warped wall in competition. Later in 2014, Catanzaro competed in the Dallas finals of American Ninja Warrior. She was the first woman ever to complete a city finals course (and the second woman to attempt it after Jessie Graff in season 5), qualifying for the national finals in Las Vegas with a time of 8 minutes, 59 seconds. (Through 2017 she remains the only woman to have ever completed a City Finals course.) Host commentator Akbar Gbaja-Biamila remarked "I've seen greatness during my NFL career...And I've been in awe of people, but I am really in awe of Kacy". The run had been especially notable because due to her short stature, many of the obstacles looked difficult to manage and in one case, she had to leap between boards whereas other competitors could traverse them. Her achievement made her a social media phenomenon, with her run being viewed over 100 million times; supporters on Twitter coined the hashtag #MightyKacy. Kacy Catanzaro failed to complete the first round of the National Finals in Las Vegas. She made it past the first three obstacles, including the Giant Ring and the Silk Slider, before she fell attempting the Jumping Spider, where her full extension was simply too short to hold the position.
In the 2015 Houston Qualifying round (Season 7), Catanzaro failed to complete the course after falling on the cargo crossing. She was given a wild card spot in Vegas and she failed due to a mistimed trampoline jump at the Propeller Bar at Stage 1 of The Finals on September 7. By this time the pressure she felt to live up to her broadcast reputation as Ninja's greatest female competitor was reportedly showing and she was tearful in the post-run interview.
In 2016, Catanzaro was invited to compete in the 32nd competition of the original Japanese version of ANW, Sasuke. Catanzaro performed well, completing 8 of the stage 1 obstacles before timing out on the final obstacle, the Lumberjack Climb. Since the course's renewal and increased difficulty, Catanzaro set the record for the furthest a female athlete has gone and the closest a female athlete has got to completing stage 1 since the 2nd competition (until 2017 when Jessie Graff completed stage 1 and became the first woman ever to complete stage 2.)
In the 2016 Oklahoma City Qualifying round (Season 8), Catanzaro failed to complete the course after falling on an early obstacle, the Log Runner, on June 20; however, she was again given a Wild Card spot in Las Vegas. In the Las Vegas National Finals, Stage 1, she fell on the second obstacle.
In December 2016 Catanzaro co-hosted as a broadcaster the Team Ninja Warrior College Madness series of shows.
In 2017, Catanzaro competed in American Ninja Warrior season 9 in the San Antonio city qualifier and finals. In the former she failed on the fourth obstacle, but did well enough to qualify for city finals under the show's new rules. In that latter run she had her best performance since 2014, making it past the Sky Hooks and the fifth obstacle to get the now-higher Warped Wall, which she failed to surmount. Nonetheless she qualified for the national finals. At the national finals, she failed on Stage 1 at the Double Dipper.
Professional wrestling career
Catanzaro had been a fan of professional wrestling since childhood, and had wondered what it would be like to step inside the squared circle. On January 4, 2017, Catanzaro received a tryout with WWE at their WWE Performance Center. It was announced on August 27 during the Mae Young Classic that Catanzaro had been signed to a contract with WWE. On January 18, 2018, WWE officially announced Catanzaro had reported to the WWE Performance Center. She made her in-ring debut at a NXT live event on April 19, in Sanford, Florida, in a losing effort to Reina González.
She continued to make appearances during 2018, both in house shows and on NXT television; she wrestles as a face and takes inspiration from WWE's Alexa Bliss's slogan "Five Feet of Fury", making reference to Catanzaro's own diminutive size. Regarding that potential hindrance, she said, "I’m smaller. I feel like it was in my head that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’ve been through that line of thinking my whole life. But I’ve been able to change my perspective." In some cases she has appeared as part of a team with Nixon Newell and Dakota Kai. The 2nd episode of the Mae Young Classic aired on September 12, Catanzaro made her televised debut in a winning effort against Reina Gonzalez in the first round match.
- Catanzaro, Kacy (July 22, 2014). "@middlenamegame Esther". Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Zachary Stieber (July 16, 2014). "Kacy Catanzaro American Ninja Warrior". Epoch Times.
- Dan Reilly (July 17, 2014). "14 things #MightyKacy told us after her huge victory on American Ninja Warrior". Esquire.
- NXT Sanford, FL, live results: Kacy Catanzaro makes her debut
- Mallenbaum, Carly (August 31, 2017). "Will 'Mighty Kacy' be a heel for the WWE? The 'Ninja Warrior' star explains her career move". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- Note that Jessie Graff's 2016 run featured her finishing second overall, but not completing the City Finals course.
- Allison Takeda (July 16, 2014). "Kacy Catanzaro owns American Ninja Warrior, is first female finalist". US Magazine.
- "14 Things #MightyKacy Told Us After Her Huge Victory on American Ninja Warrior". Esquire. Esquire. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "Kacy Catanzaro sets the bar high on American Ninja Warrior". CBS Baltimore. July 15, 2014.
- Kyle Newport (July 15, 2014). "Former NCAA gymnast becomes 1st woman to finish 'American Ninja Warrior' course". Bleacher Report.
- "Catanzaro named as NCAA Regional Gymnast of the Year". Towson Tigers. April 7, 2012.
- Alex Heigl (July 17, 2014). "Kacy Catanzaro becomes first woman to complete American Ninja Warrior course". People.
- Nina Mandell (July 18, 2014). "American Ninja Warrior phenom Kacy Catanzaro: 'I had no idea so many people would care so much'". USA Today.
- Avery Thompson (July 17, 2014). "'American Ninja Warrior': Kacy Catanzaro is first woman to finish course". Hollywood Life.
- Sophia Rosenbaum (July 16, 2014). "First woman advances to 'American Ninja Warrior' finals". New York Post.
- Bruna Nessif (July 16, 2014). "Gymnast Kacy Catanzaro completing the American Ninja Warrior course is the most exciting thing you'll watch all day". E! Online.
- David Young (July 16, 2014). "The Mighty Kacy strikes back on American Ninja Warrior". SportsGrid.
- "Denver City Finals". American Ninja Warrior. Season 9. August 28, 2017. NBC.
- "'Ninja Warrior' star Kacy Catanzaro, Saints LB work out for WWE | FOX Sports". FOX Sports. January 8, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
- "TWO NEW WWE SIGNINGS ANNOUNCED DURING MAE YOUNG CLASSIC - PWInsider.com". PWInsider. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Anthony, Benigno (January 18, 2018). ""American Ninja Warrior" alum Kacy Catanzaro reports to the WWE Performance Center". WWE. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
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