From his 6’5 height he stared down at me with a serious expression. Dressed in shorts, singlet and gym boots, the blond, buff 20-something Man Mountain who faced me off was a magnificent specimen of wrestling.

Staring up at him from the blue mat was me, a hardly fit middle-aged man about to become his opponent.

I recalled how we first met. It was at Fair Day. Standing like a colossus above the crowd, he was spruiking the joy of wrestling with the Harbour City Wrestling Club.

I don’t know what possessed me. Maybe it was the tights or maybe it was the idea of legally grabbing and throwing complete strangers onto a mat, but I signed up on the spot.

The overpowering odour of male pheromones and stale sweat hit my nostrils as I joined the other recruits for the first day of the three-day wrestling course at the Sydney University gym.

Our burly instructor, a wrestler of 17 years, started by dispelling any notion we might have of wrestling being a substitute for sexual gratification.

“You are going to feel sore in parts of your body you never knew existed,” he warned.

Then he listed what we couldn’t do: choke, punch, kick, bite. He added that we shouldn’t be too sweaty as this would prevent our opponent from gripping us and that our hair should be free of product.

Being sweaty and having hair gelled to the max, I’d already lost points.

With the pep talk over, he gave us a series of warm-ups: running forward and back, skipping and jumping, even walking like a crab.

Now we were ready for the real stuff — preparing to throw our man onto the mat. The instructor asked us to choose a partner. Instead of picking another virgin wrestler, I chose one of the pros.

In theory, my younger and more muscular opponent should have had a clear advantage. But as we gripped, pulled, and pushed I found I was able to use my slightly greater height and weight to pick up, bear hug and defeat my wrestling buddy.

It was time to swap partners. I’d learned the basic wrestling manoeuvres and felt ready to scale the Man Mountain. As we stood face-to-face and gripped, I moved to throw him.

He didn’t budge an inch. A fraction of a second later I was on my back staring up at the ceiling with my towering opponent looking down at my surprised expression.

With a sense of satisfaction, I realised I’d finally met my match.

By PAUL PURCELL

info: Find out more about the club and training at www.hcwc.com.au

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