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Naw Heís Jist Here Tae Haud Ma Jaicket
by William Baxter


The two burly figures hurried towards the weigh-in tent, "Is this whaur ye pit yer name doon fur the wrestling?" I looked up at the speaker and said, "Aye, are ye baith enterin?" "Naw heís jist here tae haud ma jaicket." That was my first introduction to Gary Neilson now the Scottish Wrestling Bondís National Coach. I knew of Gary by reputation, he was a current Scottish judo champion and internationalist and Hugh McGuinness another judo champion had convinced him of the good sport to be had at Highland Games.

It was the Bearsden and Milngavie games and Gary was there to have a go at the 12st 7lbs Scottish championship. Eventually Gary reached the final to face the holder, local man Walter Scott. I was the referee and watched with carefully concealed amusement as Walter made a classic error; he tried to Ďpsyche outí this veteran of a hundred judo internationals.

When the two wrestlers came to take holds, Walter instead of properly taking hold just bumped his chest hard against Gary and stood back. Gary stared at him expressionlessly with his hands by his side; in all Walter tried this three times only to be greeted with the same cold expressionless stare before I stopped him and warned him about passivity. When the bout started Walter made another error, he pulled his head away from his opponentís shoulder to watch his feet; Walter is highly skilled at simple foot sweeps. Gary immediately Buttocked (hip throw) him; you see judo wrestlers need space to move, they are used to a couple of feet of jacket between them and their opponent and Walter to his shock suddenly remembered that. He sat on the ground scratched his chin a couple of times in thought and stood up to wrestle properly. Walter eventually won the bout by three falls to two but he never underestimated Gary again. As Alan Jones commented after his epic bout with Gary at Jedburgh, "Gary is a toof noot, psychin oot doesnít work wií him, thatís for lesser men."

Gary is a busy fellow and it is difficult to keep up with him. His company, Door Repair Services Ltd. sponsors the Wrestling Bondís Highland Games League and he has also won the European 81 kgs Championship at Gouren (Breton jacket wrestling) but this year he returned to his first love, Judo.

He entered the Scottish Championship but handicapped by his recent specialisation in Backhold, which is standing wrestling only, he was forced to submit to an arm lock in groundwork in the semi-final. A third place at the age of forty is pretty good but Gary was peeved, he had been ahead on points when he made his simple error but the best was yet to come, he entered the World Mastersí Championships in the 35/40 category.

The World Mastersí was held in Belfast on June 22nd and in his first bout he beat Lurs Rodriguez of Peru, then David Martin of England, Yves Pearson of Canada and James Seidl of Hungary. In the semi-final, Ben Spijer of The Netherlands the eventual winner beat him but Gary was pleased this time with his bronze medal. After all he had been coaching and competing in Backhold and Gouren for ten years and had also been Scottish Free style champion and a Commonwealth Games contender in that discipline. Gary has reached the top level of every type of wrestling practised in Scotland, Judo, Backhold, Free style but there is one which I have almost forgotten, Sombo; who knows, after all he is only forty?

See William's Scottish Wrestling web site here


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