Team Scotland’s Wrestling quartet took time out of their training schedule this morning to meet with students from St Andrews Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast. They shared stories about how and why they got into the sport, their Games experiences and even showed them a few moves on the library reading mats.
Commonwealth Games debutant, Joe Hendry, was one of the wrestlers there to help inspire the children, just like he was inspired by Team Scotland during Glasgow 2014.
As a judoka in his teenage years and through university, Joe moved onto professional wrestling and is known on the circuit as ‘Joe Hendry, the Prestigious One’!
Watching the Opening Ceremony on TV on 23rd July 2014, Joe saw Team Scotland parade around Celtic Park and decided he wanted to be part of that experience. Four years on in team camp on the Sunshine Coast, Joe’s dream is now a reality.
He was asked to be part of a BBC documentary three years ago that wanted to see what would happen when a professional wrestler took up amateur wrestling. He fell in love with the purists’ version of the sport and decided to continue training long after the TV cameras had been turned off.
Fast forward to 2017 and Joe holds the title for both the Open and Closed British Championships.
“I wanted to be in this sport and to be taken seriously as an amateur wrestler. Pro wrestling is built around the roots of freestyle, so I feel they complement each other and this has given me a better understanding around the roots and fundamentals of the sport.
“I’ve had to leave some of my old workout routines behind, but I am seeing the changes and the results”.
He explains that they are both hard but in different ways. Freestyle is more of a challenge in the moment, but professional wrestling is more of a grind and takes more of a grind on your body over time.
Pro wrestling is hard mentally as you have to overcome a lot of politics and challenges to get to the top; while freestyle is shorter intense bursts of mental and physical focus and being part of a team set up gives you that extra support.
Joe currently juggles both forms of the sport and, to balance the added preparation for the Commonwealth Games, he has had to reduce his professional schedule. This makes it harder financially but that has to be weighed up against chances of injury and focusing on the main task at hand.
“This sport doesn’t leave a lot in your pocket at the end of each month, so I might not be a wealthy guy, but I feel very rich in terms of experiences and I can say I’ve done, or am doing, everything I have wanted to.”
The last three years have been ‘all go’ for Joe and there’s not been a lot of time for socialising with friends and family.
“You have to take your opportunities and you can’t worry about having too much to do. You should only worry when there’s no fans, no media and no shows. You need to embrace it when it’s there.”
Keeping his eye on the prize, Joe is aiming for another title to add to his collection.
“If you’re not here for medals then you shouldn’t be here. You have to aim for the highest possible level.
“When the Games are over, I will look to compete in freestyle wrestling on a more regular basis if I can. I’d love to keep it going and this experience with Team Scotland is a dream come true.”