Wrestler won’t submit to ageing process

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Tony Collins demonstrating a common wrestling stance. Pic © Lydia Baggs JMU Journalism

Most people look forward to a more relaxing life when they hit their later years, but a Huyton wrestler is still grappling with destiny at the age of 66.

Great grandfather, Tony Collins, is set to compete in the Masters World Championships in Warsaw, Poland next week, and he has high hopes of securing the title.

Tony, who is originally from Everton, has been wrestling for 42 years, and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Collins, whose signature move is a “double leg take down”, first got into Greco and Freestyle wrestling at the age of 24. Although never sporty as a child, Tony eventually found his calling after seeing men competing in his local gym.

He told JMU Journalism: “I never played sport in school; I preferred just playing with friends on the school playground. It was only when I walked into Kirkby Sports Centre and saw these lads wrestling that I knew it was my sport.”

With a newfound passion, Tony began training every day and entering competitions. Despite his big muscles and determined attitude, the keen wrestler struggled initially until he discovered a winning formula.

YouTube: Ana Madureira

He told JMU Journalism: “I got hammered in competitions, but I knew I could do better. That’s when I figured out how to win. I then went on to win the British Championships in London, the year of 1976 and again in 2016.”

Since the beginning of career, he has competed in competitions all around the UK and the rest of the world.

Despite missing out on being chosen for the Olympics in Moscow, 1980, Tony did become the first British wrestler to ever win the USA Nationals; beating an opponent five years younger than him.

Aside from intense training, the grandfather of 10 children also spent a period of time coaching young children in the local area. Using his own money to fund the training, Tony took the children all around the world to compete.

Although not coaching now, Tony told JMU Journalism: “I am always looking for a new project, a new target to meet or aspiration. Maybe I could begin coaching local kids again, teaching them the art of wrestling.”

After recently being awarded £500 funding from the Fred Curran Trust, Tony has used this money in preparation for the upcoming championships in Warsaw on October 19th. Although nervous, Collins hopes to place well… and he’s on the look out for more competition.

He said: “To all the other 66 year olds out there, it would be a pleasure to wrestle.”

YouTube: Lydia Baggs

About Lydia Baggs, JMU Journalism