some BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF present day and recently retired wrestlers

alan jones

World 14 Stone - 1985, 1988
World 13 Stone - 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998
World 12½ Stone - 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996
World 12 Stone - 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997
World 11 Stone - 1982, 1983
World 10½ Stone - 1979, 1980

I was born at Brampton on January 21st 1962.
My father was a good wrestler. He was a 14 stone champion, but never won at Grasmere. He was second in the Heavyweights one year when I won the 11 stone (1980). He did farm work, was a pitman for 4 years and was a peat cutter for 14 years, before he started driving on the buses, so he was a very active man.
I started at Brampton judo club in 1973/74 and reached Green Belt standard, but soon progressed to wrestling. I used to go to Carlisle Show with my grandfather when I was 12 or 13 and entered the 9 stone event - I came 3rd once I think, so I had a little go now and again and got more interested. I wrestled at Grasmere as a boy, but didn't win. I first met Tom Harrington and Roger Robson about this time and started going down to the Carlisle Wrestling Club in Strand Rd. It was there that I learned most of my wrestling technique from Tom, Roger and Ted Dunglinson. Ted and Roger were reaching the end of their active wrestling careers but they were the biggest influences on my technique. I don't really have any strong points, but my favourite throw is the swinging hype. That's something I learned from Ted. We used to go down to the club on a Thursday night and practise picking people up, and swinging them round - no hold, no pressure, without using any power, just practising the timing. It's all about timing. Rab McNamara the 23 stone heavyweight is a good example. McNamara doesn't really put any pressure on you, he has quite a soft grip on your back, but when he makes a move he uses his power and timing to the best advantage. His timing is spot on and he doesn't try to crush you and then throw you down, so much as use the strength across his chest to lift you and catch you off balance. Last year (2001), Mark Lowry felled him once in the final, and Mark is giving away a lot of weight, so you see, weight advantage can be beaten by good technique. I never hear much of the crowd when I wrestle. I tend to switch off and just concentrate on the bout in hand. It's very difficult not to complain if a decision goes against you and you think you've won. I do my best because you have to remember that the referee and judges are giving up their spare time and then again mistakes can be made - they’ re only human.
I had my first win at Grasmere in 1980 when I won the 11 stone and got my first 'double' in 1982 with the 11 and 12 stone events (only the 3rd person ever, to do it at that time). I won again in 1985, the year I married Shirley, and for the next 11 years running, won the 11 stone title at Grasmere.
Rab Clarke won that same double in 2001, to become the 4th. You know it's a big achievement to win the double at Grasmere. You have to be very fit. It's the best of 3 falls in every bout now, but when I won mine, it was only 1 fall, with the best of 3 in the final. If you are meeting all the best wrestlers as you progress through the rounds, and you're going to 3 falls each time, it clearly takes it out of you. To do that twice in one day is quite an achievement. I think wrestling is probably one of the hardest sports to succeed at. When you're engaged in a bout, you're obviously trying to win so it does get a bit aggressive, but the handshake before and after sums it all up. Between the handshakes it's every man for himself. Mark (Lowry) and I are good friends outside the ring, but we'll knock each other about with no holds barred during a contest and shake hands afterwards. It's very good for discipline. It's often difficult to try and knock hell out of an opponent, get beaten, and then shake his hand afterwards. Wrestlers are proud people. I find losing very difficult to accept. You obviously lose at the beginning when you are learning but after being at the top, it's difficult as you get older, to start losing again
1990 was another good year for me, when I did the double again, this time in the 12 and 13 stone. I wrestled Mark Lowry in a very fiery final, but won. In all, I've done the double 4 times at Grasmere - 1982, 1990, 1993 and 1994 which I think is a bit of a record. I used to take part in the Best Dressed Wrestler's competition but never won anything. I've had my share of injuries - broken ribs, back injuries, knee injuries and shoulder injuries from time to time. Depending on my knee injury which requires a cartilage trim, I may go on for a few more years, but not long now.
To be honest, I've always enjoyed my days at Grasmere and I've always treated Grasmere as a kind of Championship wrestling occasion. World Championships go the rounds each year, but you always get all the wrestlers who are any good competing at Grasmere. My wins at Grasmere mean every bit as much to me as my World Championship wins. The move to Sunday has definitely been a good thing, but the committee have done away with the track and field events, and the cycling - I don't like that! I used to like the idea of the wrestlers being in the middle, and the track events going on around the ring. People could see everything then.
I hope the sport carries on. There are plenty of youngsters and characters still in the sport, but the interest has to come from the individual. I've seen some really talented youngsters down at the club, who could have been really good wrestlers, but who opted out and took up another sport. Self discipline is the order of the day, there's no one standing over you with a training whip driving you on. The training routine of up and coming young Breton wrestler, Matthieu le Dour, sums it all up. He does about 12 hours training a week at home in France. He does some weight lifting, about 4 hrs judo and the rest wrestling - Breton style of course. He wrestles in the Breton, or Guerin style in France, where the hands are free to grab hold of the opponent's jacket - a kind of singlet made of canvas. You cannot grab their arms, head or shorts. He's only been wrestling at Grasmere for 3 or 4 years with our backhold style, where the hands are locked throughout the bout, but he's picking things up from our style and adapting them to his Breton style. He has a move which we call a 'leg up buddick' which in his own style, involves grabbing the jacket, putting a leg through the inside and hauling you opponent over your back. He's now adapting that to his Cumberland and Westmorland backhold technique. It will be interesting to see how it develops.