A LAST minute jump in weight divisions couldn’t prevent Jack Brown from returning to Tynedale as European champion.
Hastily moving up from his traditional lightweight 74kg category to the middleweight 81kg, the 21-year-old from Langley, near Haydon Bridge, shocked the Austrian crowd to win the European Backhold Wrestling Championships.
Brown won the 74kg title last year and again qualified to represent England in the same weight division. However, with strong words of encouragement from his supportive father Josie, he filled the void of no English wrestler in the category due to there being two qualifiers in the lightweight section.
And he amazed all when he stormed the competition, beating opponents from Iceland Spain and France before taking down his Austrian counterpart in the final to claim the European crown.
He said: “Moving up to the 81kg class, people thought I would be beaten so it was a surprise that I went and won it! It was my dad’s decision to go into the higher weight, and he told me just to go there and show people what I am like. He thought it would pay off – I didn’t – but he was right!
“I kept thinking there was no point in trying out and I was worried about it, but my dad was very confident.
“It’s the best thing I have ever won by a mile as it’s on a big stage with nine different countries competing, and I was over the moon to win it. The pride I had with my dad, who is my biggest fan, was huge. The win was for him.”
He added: “In the final, the guy I was wrestling is a bit of a legend in Austria and they put our fight back so everybody could finish work and watch. That certainly added to the surprise when he was beaten!”
The European title is the biggest achievement of Brown’s career, who has won numerous titles in the UK in Cumberland and Westmorland (C&W) Wrestling.
Well-known as a frequent winner at local agricultural shows such as the Roman Wall Show, Allendale Show and Haltwhistle Carnival, the former Haydon Bridge High School pupil has been competing since he was 10 years old. And he is hoping that the profile of C&W can start to grow, with more youngsters getting involved on a more regular basis.
He said: “I got into it watching it at a local show, and it gave me something to do at weekends. I just kept doing it and got better. You get a great sense of pride when you start winning things.
“I would love to see more get involved, especially younger people. I see a lot of lads go into competitions at the likes of the Roman Wall or Haltwhistle shows. There are lots of naturally talented lads who could do well if they did it more than once a year.”