Picture this. A scrawny maths nerd, who was picked on in school for being ‘soft’ and found solice in drawing pictures of characters from his favourite animated shows.
In primary school I was always last on every athletics and sports team. I couldn’t even master the monkey bars. What an embarrassment. I was the son of a triathlete whose trophies and medals sat above our homeware cabinet.
Then I found something I liked. Tae Kwon Do. At the age of 15, I went in a few tournaments and even won gold, but then an injury happened and it was all over.
Cut forward 20 years and I would be in neck deep in a long term relationship, overweight enough to matter, and without any real hobbies.
One Mardi Gras Fair Day, I took a stab at something. I broke away from my group that was looking at travel stalls and went into the sporting precinct. I signed up to tennis and then went straight to the Self-Defence workshops. I asked them about what they taught but they did a mixture of martial arts without grading and I wanted a style I could focus and apply myself to.
Next door was the Sydney Silverbacks Wrestling Club (follow their instagram @sydneysilverbacks) and I thought I’d give it a go. To be honest I thought I would get my arse handed to me but I decided to prove myself wrong.
I got my arse handed to me. Wrestling is hard work and I wasn’t sure I could keep up having sore shoulders and not serving properly in tennis. I gave it a few months and then gave up by July 2016.
Towards the end of 2016 I tried again. Same drill. Couldn’t work it out and wasn’t nearly fit enough. By April 2017 I had given up again and my partner at the time and I planned to move to Melbourne. We broke up on arrival and I was in a new city without any support network.
In September 2017 I travelled to Sydney where I attended a Sydney Silverbacks trivia fundraiser. The president at the time cuddled me and said ‘join the Melbourne Wranglers. They’ll look after you.’ By October 2017 I was a Wrangler (follow the Melbourne Wranglers on instagram @melbournewranglers). I decided this would be it. I was going to make a real effort. Every week the friendships got stronger and I was determined to train harder and harder.
Every week I came back to see my new friends and every week I trained harder to prove I was good enough to earn their respect. This was my growth during 2018.
In 2019 I would compete in the Emerald City Tournament (for the second time) and win bronze. 2 out of 4 matches won and a pin in my first match! I was so proud. Not because I got a bronze. But because I did myself proud!
Last June 2019 I was fortunate enough to travel to an international wrestling camp in Berlin. The guys there called me Mr Screw Driver because of how often and easily I executed a leg lace.
I made some great friends in Europe who would become my international wrestling family. I look forward to going back when the time is right and will train hard for the Gay Games 2022 in Hong Kong.
The lesson I’ve learned is a life changing one. I am a decent wrestler because I choose to be. I try and I thrive on learning, not succeeding.
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Note: The Melbourne Wranglers and the Sydney Silverbacks are DGS wrestling clubs which means they promote the inclusion of diverse gender and sexuality.
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