Tommy Pritt of Bootle

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A stalwart of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, Tommy Pritt of Bootle , has died aged 86, immediately after a barn fire had been extinguished on his farm. He was wrestling as a lad before the Second World War, and at the age of fifteen won the Under 18 Years Championship at Egremont Crab Fair. What should have been his best years coincided with the closedown of sports meetings for the duration of the Second World War, but he made his mark in the aftermath when he was a member of the formidable Bootle and Waberthwaite Wrestling Academy during the heyday of the Academy League.

As an individual he won the 11 stones at Grasmere in 1947 and a year later he wrestled up to Dicey Messer in the 12st World Championship at Cardewlees. Henry Hale remembers he was as strong as a bloody hoss and Cyril Bragg recalls him as a formidable wrestler, strong off his chest. Later he was a wrestling judge and a member of the Governing Board. At a time when some of the older members of the wrestling hierarchy were suspicious of our involvement with the Bretons and the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling, Tommy decided to join us in Brittany for an international championship. I got to know him then as a great raconteur, and to admire the spirit of a man who could lose his hip joint entirely due to post-operative infection, yet continue cheerfully walking and working.

He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and three sons. The funeral will be held at Corney Parish Church on Monday 15th at 1pm. (but please check details elsewhere).

Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling is such a traditional sport that most people involved think they know the rules, even if they have never read them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the section on The Commencement of the Bout. Virtually the whole of the referees' pre-season meeting was exercised by the importance of giving both wrestlers a fair start to the bout. The meeting came to the conclusion that the rules are fine, but that wrestlers need to know them and referees enforce them.

On entering the ring the two wrestlers will shake hands, take a slack hold, and keep hold, with their feet motionless and with chins over shoulders, heads touching and shoulders level. There will be no struggling for hold. The referee will instruct both wrestlers to be "On your guard and when the referee is satisfied that each wrestler is on his guard he will shout "wrestle and the bout will commence.

The principle behind this rule is that no wrestler should have an advantage before the wrestling starts. The meeting agreed that wrestlers must keep hold even if they feel at a disadvantage so that the referee can sort out the problem. It is thus possible to lose a bout by breaking hold before it begins. Equally, a wrestler can lose a bout before it starts by grabbing too much hold in defiance of the referee's instructions.

Saturday 13th June 2pm Roman Wall; U13, U17, 11.5, 13.5, AW
7pm Lowgill U12, U14, U16, 12, AW, Ladies
Sunday 14th June 1.30pm Morpeth U10, U13, U16, U18, 11.5, 13.5, 15.5, AW
Saturday 20th June 2pm Kirkheaton U12, U15, U18, 12, 15, AW
Sunday 21st June 2pm Rothbury Vintage Show U10, U13, U18, 11.5, 14, AW

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)

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