Friday, March 7, 2014

A World Without WAR

You’re probably wondering why I put war in capital letters. What does it have to do with Physical Culture? Believe it or not I'm not talking about military combat or exercises that help you become a soldier but it’s an actual name of a legendary wrestler that recently passed away; William A. Robinson aka Catch Wrestler Billy Robinson. Born in 1939 in England, he came from a family of boxers but as fate would have it, he became a wrestler.

            A man named Billy Riley opened a wrestling school in England in a town called Wigan, he trained some of the toughest wrestlers not just in Europe but just about everywhere else. The two most famous to come out of that gym were Karl Istaz aka Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson. In the 1950’s when Billy was just starting out, he got tied up in knots, worked his ass off, learned the secrets of Catch Wrestling and ventured off into the world of Pro Wrestling. He won countless titles all over the world but never forgot where he came from. Wigan Wrestling back then would be the equivalent to Dan Gable’s Championship formula of the 1980’s at the University Of Iowa, rough, tough and the most conditioned wrestlers of it’s time.

            In the 1970’s, Billy was considered one of the top if not the top most talented wrestler of that era. He wrestled many top stars of the day. His style of wrestling was unique in that it was scientific, he read other wrestlers like it was a chess match. He had agility very few had and can lock you in a hold where he could cripple you if he had the chance, he was that good. He trained countless wrestlers over the years, some you may even heard of that are hall of famers in pro wrestling such as 16-time World Champ Ric Flair and quite possibly the most hated wrestler of his era The Iron Sheik. In Japan he coached many of the Japanese wrestlers of the time including “Gracie Killer” Kazushi Sakuraba.

            Billy passed away earlier this week leaving a legacy that has long been forgotten but has slowly risen with a new generation of Catch Wrestlers and to continue his legacy before he died he put together a book called Physical Chess which told his life story from his very own words. He was the last of the old-time catch wrestlers of the old Wigan days. To even get a glimpse of his legendary wisdom and training now is to go to Scientific Wrestling and get the DVD series W.A.R which shows his philosophy, training and techniques in the art of Catch As Catch Can Wrestling. I never got the chance to meet him but I've talked to those that have and they said he was the best and was a great man. Maybe one day if I learned some catch I'll be hearing the voice from above “Do it again.”

            One of his many facets on life and wrestling is what he referred to as “Learning how to learn.” I've heard this phrase a few times and what I believe it to be is that you don’t stop learning, if you think you know it all, you haven’t learned a damn thing. He uses it for wrestling for what I use it as fitness, you can do so many things but there’s always something that can be taught that keeps you finding other ways to better yourself no matter how long it takes and mastering it is part of the mystery. Even if you master something you’ll always be a student because knowledge is what keeps us going and how it absorbs who you are and what you want to do. RIP Billy and hope wherever you are, you're having fun wrestling old comrades and crippling those who need to get their ass kicked. 

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