Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse- Tony

Fri 13 Jan, 2023

Inspired by the original Humans of New York, Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse aims to document as many of the wonderful people who walk through our building each day. Giving a glimpse into who they are and the story they have to share

‘Boldness be my friend.’ Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene VI

“I was a person who never ran or played football or that. I was one of those fellas that would stand in the school playground and hang about, everyone else in the playground was playing football and running around, there’d be about 10 games going on at the same time and I just wasn’t interested. I got married at 17, dead young, and for my job I was a scaffolder. Scaffolding involves lifting, pushing, shoving, dragging, bending, climbing, 8,10,12 hours a day. All of that is sort of wrestling, you know.

“When I was about 24, I went to the old Kirby Sports Centre, and when I walked in I seen these lads on a mat wrestling, picking each other up and smashing into the mat and I said ‘Now what is that? I want to do that’ and it just stuck in my head that I wanted to do it and I began to train. The first run I ever did, I ran around the old Kirby Sports track, 400 meters around the inside lane and after the first lap I said ‘oh my God, I’ll never be able to do 2 laps’. Then a few days later I came out and did 2 laps and I said ‘right, I’m definitely not going to do more than 2 laps’ then a week later I came out and did 8 laps. I built up my heart and lung capacity, fortunately I’ve never smoked so I was okay. Then I began to compete in wrestling.

“Though I was physically better than some of my opponents, you know I was bigger and stronger, I just didn’t know how to win and score points. At my very first competition I competed against a fella who was a lot smaller than me, and I thought ‘I’ll have him easy’ and you know what, he leathered me! But I wasn’t that good. I was a married man I had four kids and a job 10-12 hours a day sometimes seven days a week.

“It’s only now that I’m over 65 that I can train very hard for my age. Now I go all over the world and compete. I’ve gone to Japan, American, Russia, Germany, Poland- I had to go over there because those places are the only ones that still allow over 65’s to compete. I’m disappointed that the British Wrestling Association is the only sports organisation that doesn’t cater for over 65’s. I can see their points because it is a tough sport, but still.

“My next competition, if all goes well and I manage to get funding, will be the World Championships in Warsaw. I’ve been in the World Championships 3 times now, but the past few I just wasn’t clued up about! I just entered the competition, I never checked my weight or trimmed down. I just barged in and met these great big men, and they’d just grab me and mash me up and tie me like spaghetti. But my last one where I went over to Japan, I thought I’m not making that mistake again, so I got right down on my weight and went in there as this big strong guy in the lower weight category- and I won gold! Plus, I was given a certificate of commendation that was signed by the Emperor of Japan. Now who the hell gets a signed letter of commendation from an Emperor?

“I’m also a volunteer at Shakespeare North Playhouse. When they first announced that the playhouse had funding, I said to myself I wanna be a part of that, whatever it is I want to be part of this great thing. I sent an email to Tom (Shakespeare North Playhouse’s volunteer manager) and I received a reply, it was like winning the lottery and I was so happy. I’m very honored to be part of it. This place is special and it’s special to me.”