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?
Scottish Wrestling web site here