"Paul Murray - he's strong, him".......

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...... The unsolicited compliment from a young lad at the ringside at Ennerdale Show paid tribute to the young wrestler’s fierce determination to win against bigger opponents.

Last year he was no longer in the safety of the Under 12 Years wrestling where he had been so competitive, instead he was mixed in with lads two years older than him and had to fight every inch of the way. Fortunately, his style of wrestling enables him to deal with bigger lads, for he is adept at slipping round anti-clockwise to gain a strong hold, and then using it to rush his man forward or twist him back over.

At least, when he wrestled in The Brittany Backhold Championships he was wrestling with opponents nearer in age and weight than is usual for him at the moment. Wrestling best of five throughout the competition he was one of those who set the early standard for our wrestlers, and he came away with a winner's medal and certificate for the Minime 56kg, felling the Northumbrian, Dan Crane along the way. After all that, I manged to miss him out of my article on the Breton adventure, for which I apologise.

His father, Robin, a fellow Belted Galloway breeder, also deserves a mention for his role as light monitor in the dormitory corridor and general support during the visit.

Paul Murray’s determination is not just apparent in the ring but also in his keenness to train at his Wrestling Club which is forty miles from home. He attends regularly for coaching from Andrew Carlile, Alan Jones and Tom Harrington and responds well to their prompting. Another sign of his keenness is that he is always immaculately stripped out to wrestle.

Paul is a good gymnast, and a potential farmer as he takes great interest in his flock of Jacob Sheep and is a major help with the Belted Galloway herd. His father says, "He’s grand outside." ….so much so that it is only fair to take him to wrestling events, wherever they may be.

One reason for my oversight was that I wrote my previous article at high speed before going to a family funeral for my cousin, George Robson, of Netherwitton. He was one of those Northumbrian wrestlers who never hit the heights but made sure that the stars had to work hard every inch of the way. His best wrestling years, potentially, were spent as a gunner in the back end of a Lancaster Bomber during the Second World War. And he was one of that generation which flocked to the wrestling rings to keep the old traditions alive that had been under threat from German invasion. I only met him once in the ring and I ended his career with a broken rib. Typically, he didn't make a fuss and I only found out about it several years later.

News of another death shocked me at a meeting in Brittany. The Icelander, Hjalmur Sigurdsson, who regularly brought wrestlers to compete at Grasmere took his own life a year ago. I knew that he had moved up into a remote area in the North of Iceland after his marriage failed. Apparently, he had made a living by coaching sport, mainly Glima, the Icelandic wrestling style.

I remember him as an urbane, good humoured man who did so much for wrestling. His dedication is illustrated by the Heavyweight Championship at Alwinton Show in 2000 to which he brought an Icelandic Champion called Simmi. They flew from Keflavik to Glasgow, rented a car, stayed overnight at Rothbury and then Simmi met the rampant Rab McNamara in the first round. The last time he brought a group over was in 2005, when another heavyweight, Josef Stefansson, felled a below par McNamara at Bellingham Show. The Icelanders have decided to present a trophy in his memory, but that has seemingly created a schism in their ranks, as there is more than one view of what it should be awarded for.


Wed 14th March Carlisle Wrestling Club's final Points Night. 7.45pm in Currock House Gymnasium.

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (March 13th 2007)


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