Sports correspondent & historian
Olympic style wrestling is a sport that flies under the sporting headlines in New Zealand, with many of the amateur wrestling clubs scattered amongst the provincial regions of the country.
Regional towns such as Te Awamutu, Katikati, Featherston, Tawa and Taieri in Otago have wrestling gyms that date back decades and continue to thrive, due to small bands of volunteers with a love of their sport.
In the very early sixties, Sideline Sid was a member of the Featherston Wrestling Club in the town that sits on the gateway to the Wairarapa. Neil Scott, who was good enough to earn selection for the Commonwealth Games in 1966 in Kingston Jamaica and his brothers Keith who was also a very accomplished wrestler, were the mainstays of the clubs coaching team for many years.
Today, the Featherston Wrestling Club still continues to turn out national and regional competition contenders.
In the last decade, the Mount Maunganui Wrestling Club has been amongst the heavyweights of the sport in New Zealand. Under the tuition of head coach Mark Grayling, the club that trains out of the Otumoetai College gymnasium on Tuesday and Thursday nights, has produced a string of junior and senior New Zealand champions.
Sideline Sid believes that wrestling along with the likes of football, tennis and cricket is great for youngsters to learn early coordination and timing.
The New Zealand Olympic Wrestling Union website tell us that "There are plenty of benefits awarded to wrestlers that delicate themselves to the sport. It is obvious that wrestlers develop a strong physical base, but it also teaches lessons that can be translated into other aspects of life once a wrestling career is over".
The message which is aimed principally at parents of young aspiring wrestlers, then tells about the following benefits of wrestling.
Self confidence, personal growth and development, discipline, mental toughness and physical fitness that has a side benefit of self defence skills can be learnt through wrestling.
Currently two Mount Maunganui wrestlers, are awaiting confirmation of selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
Tayla Ford, who wrestled at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Ana Moceyawa, have completed a gruelling qualification program, that culminated at the last qualifying event at the Commonwealth Championships in South Africa in December 2017.
Both Mount Maunganui Club wrestlers performed with distinction with Tayla winning a silver medal and Ana returning home with a bronze medal.
A significant achievement by both wrestlers was that they defeated Australian opponents in preliminary action.