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Monday, July 09, 2012
This book is an ode of love to the sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling, which the 74-year-old Billy Robinson calls in this book "the greatest sport in the world." He not only recounts how he became personally involved in the sport, but also how the conditions facing the British working class during the Great Depression and during and after World War II led to an explosion of interest and participation in wrestling. There are also plenty of colorful stories and anecdotes from Billy's travels around the world.
This is a must, must-read book for anyone interested in the combat sports and especially the history of the various styles of grappling and wrestling.
"The original sport of catch-as-catch-can is physical chess. It's a chess game with the mind, the body, condition, everything," explained Billy in this interview. "It's beautiful. I'm sorry, I'm an old man but I still love it."
We spoke with Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon by phone late Sunday night into early Monday morning in a lengthy but incredible discussion. Among the many topics we also covered were how catch wrestling builds humility, respect, and discipline; the decline of athleticism in the West in recent years; why in catch wrestling you must "learn how to learn"; the modern origins and history of catch wrestling including the role of Riley's Gym in Wigan, England; catch wrestling and Japan; the need for a major revival of catch wrestling both as a discipline and a spectator sport; mixed martial arts and catch wrestlers including Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett; why Billy Robinson is today the most successful and influential catch-as-catch-can coach; the current plans for catch wrestling seminars and tournaments around the world; and much more.
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