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Get fit wrestling

The sport of wrestling has none of the theatrics of the made-for-TV WWF (World Wrestling Federation) or WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

There's no faking it with this ancient individual combat sport. It's a true test of grit, determination and athleticism.

There are three wrestling styles:

  • freestyle wrestling
  • Greco-Roman wrestling
  • female wrestling

All three wrestling styles require agility, speed, flexibility, strength, stamina and strategy, and wrestling can help you develop these abilities.

"Children enjoy playful wrestling in their early years, so they could be encouraged to continue that," says Malcolm Morley of the British Wrestling Association (BWA), which governs the sport.

"Olympic-style wrestling encourages good discipline, self-confidence and excellent levels of fitness."

'I want to win'

Ben Bellamy from Matlock, Derbyshire, got into wrestling after watching a demonstration at his school.

"I went along the next day to my local club and I got hooked," he says. 

"When I'm on the mat, it's just me wrestling so I can't blame anyone but myself if I don't win.

"It feels good to win and even if I lose I want to go back to train so that next time I win."

A sociable individual sport

Although it's an individual sport, wrestling in schools and clubs takes place within a team framework, which encourages a sense of solidarity among team members.

"A young person involved in wrestling can be expected to display self-confidence and appreciation of their self-worth, and develop analytical and adaptive skills."

Malcolm Morley says many of wrestling's more experienced practitioners enjoy workouts into their 80s, and a World Veterans' Championship is held annually.

The sport can be played on a 12m x 12m competition mat or a 6m x 6m jigsaw mat, so the required space is easily accommodated by most school or community halls and sports centres.

To get started, participants only need comfortable clothing and trainers. They then progress to wrestling singlets and boots for competition.

The cost for most is an annual membership fee to the BWA, and an entry fee to the sports facility.

If you would like to get involved, you can find wrestling clubs on the BWA website.

Call the club before you go for the first time and, if you're under 18, ask your parents' permission first.

'Wrestling was my life'

He's over 70, but former Olympic wrestler Albert Aspen shows no sign of slowing down. 

Although he's had surgery on both knees and his hips, and now walks with a cane, Albert regularly swims 20 lengths at his local baths and walks up to 30 lengths in the water to keep his legs and lower body strong.

"Swimming works best for me," says Albert, from Bolton. "You don’t feel the weight on your joints. It's hard work though so it’s good exercise."

Albert started wrestling at the Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club when he was 17.

"I was an eight-stone weakling at the time," says Albert. "I gave it a go and took to it. The club had two former Olympians there so I had some good people to train with."

Albert competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and four years later in Tokyo.

But although he was one of England's greatest wrestlers, he couldn't beat the wrestlers from the Eastern Bloc, who dominated the sport at the time. But he won a bronze medal at each of the Commonwealth Games of 1958, 1962 and 1966.

"Wrestling was my life," says Albert. "I don’t know how my wife put up with it."

Find out more about wrestling on the British Wrestling website.

Page last reviewed: 24/06/2015

Next review due: 24/06/2017

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