"Wrestling and Wrestlers" by Jacob Robinson and Sidney Gilpin (1893)

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With so much ice and snow around I cannot resist revisiting a passage in the book Wrestling and Wrestlers by Jacob Robinson and Sidney Gilpin (1893) which gives an account of a wrestler who tried to win a bout at Langwathby Rounds by using hypothermia rather than hipes.

In the year 1820, on New Year's Day, the ground was covered with a coating of snow three or four inches deep, when a curious scene took place during the wrestling. It so happened that Isaac Mason of Croglin, was drawn against Isaac Westmorland of Ousby. Mason well known for his smuggling adventures and his numerous eccentricities entered the ring wearing an old home-spun overcoat, so thick and patched that it set at nought Westmorland's attempts to clasp his arms around it. No persuasion could induce Mason to try and accommodate matters by stripping. He would not move a jot; and in the meantime his opponent was becoming quite numb and frigid with cold.

At length Mason showed signs of relenting, and ultimately took off the obnoxious overcoat. Still Westmorland's arms were found too short and refused to meet. Continuing therefore to doff' what was most cumbersome off went the coat, then the waistcoat, and finally Mason stood stripped to his sark' in the snow, with nothing on but his trousers, where his opponent managed to keep him standing until he, in his turn, was nearly starved to death!

As I type this, the temperature outside is 10.8° C. I desperately need Isaac Mason's old homespun overcoat, thick and patched.

Meanwhile, my e-mails have been making me twitchy. On the 2nd January P.P. Millar contacted me by way of the Grasmere Sports web-site: Dear Sir, many years ago I purchased a sterling silver watch at an auction in England 's north west . The watch is beautifully inscribed as the second prize for a wrestling competition for the natives of Cumberland and Westmoreland residing in London in 1836. Could you shed any light on it? I am currently living in Geelong Australia . I replied by sending him photographs of the relevant pages of the 1870 Wrestliana which give details of the London wrestlings each Good Friday.

Then, three days later my Breton friend, Guy Jaouen , mailed me: Roger, a prize to James Little in 1836. A bit expensive but nice.

Believe it or not another watch, another second prize in 1836, had turned up on e-bay, bought for £226.01. The web address gives access to detailed photos of the watch and its engravings. It mentions the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association so is probably a prize at the Carlisle Wrestling at The Swifts Racecourse.

The last e-mail of the night was from another Breton friend, Jean-François Hubert, secretary of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling to announce the setting up of a web-site for the IFCW and inviting contributions. The world is becoming a little smaller each day.


Wednesday 13 th January Junior Points Night at Currock House Gym.

Wednesday, 20 th January Senior Points Night at Currock House Gym.

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

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