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Now 69 Roy is a man of great knowledge. He is from a family of 5 brothers, one who died young and the remaining brothers all participated in boxing during their younger years. Boxing also played a part in Roy’s life but he was the only brother who found and loved the sport of Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling at Riley’s gym, Wigan, under the guidance of Billy Riley. Roy had the opportunity to be part of a club that would leave a legacy and would produce world class wrestlers including Bob Robinson (Billy Joyce), Karel Istaz (Karl Gotch) and Billy Robinson to name but a few.
Roy has given his life to wrestling. The youngest wrestler himself, at the age of 17 in Riley’s gym, Roy went on to reopen the gym after its closure and he has continued tirelessly coaching wrestling ever since to keep Wigan on the map. He has already given back tenfold what was given to him and is our very own unsung hero.
His voluntary commitments to freestyle coaching led to him producing numerous champions both nationally and internationally. It has also led to him receiving numerous awards, including Coach of the Year and Man of the Year, Wigan, for his endless service to helping others.
His unquestionable skills led to Team Great Britain also selecting him to take the Commonwealth Junior freestyle team to India in 2010.
Roy has achieved all he has ever wanted to achieve in the freestyle world and Roy’s next chapter is to revisit and re-ignite Catch Wrestling and set the record straight once and for all as to what Wigan Catch Wrestling is. Despite his accolades and abilities in the freestyle world, Roy’s background is in fact Catch and it was bred into him during his younger years. It is in his blood! For Roy, there is no sport like Catch and even freestyle pales into comparison when it comes down to what is the toughest sport in the world.
Make no mistake Coach Roy Wood is a tough but fair man. More importantly, he is here revive Catch and remind us all how effective Catch truly is!
Some of Roys awards
2009 – Coach of the year (Wigan)
2009 – Club of the year Aspull Wrestling Club
2011 – BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero (North West)
2011 – Wish FM Local Hero Awards “Man of the Year”
2012 – Coach of the Year – Wigan Sports Awards
2012 – Club of the Year – Aspull Wrestling Club – Wigan Sports Awards
2012 – Coach of the Year – Greater Manchester Sports Awards
2012 – “Be Inspired” Changing Lives and Creating a Lasting Legacy – Greater Manchester Sports Awards
2012 – Torch Bearer – London Olympics
Hi, I am Andrea and I am the daughter of Roy Wood as the name may give away! I have coached for many years and enjoyed years of voluntary coaching setting up clubs and school programmes to develop freestyle wrestling within the local boroughs. Wrestling in the UK is undervalued and so over the last 10 years I ensured that over 100 schools accessed the sport and could appreciate exactly what wrestling is rather than the misconceptions that surround it. I loved coaching and wrestling and the way that it can impact people’s lives so much that I left my career as a criminal solicitor and set up a company which focused on sport being used to build self esteem and also find a “family” within sport, discipline, role models, healthy lifestyles etc to have a better life. For more information about this click www.heartlift.co.uk
I was extremely honoured to receive the award of Coach of the Year for the borough of Bolton and this automatically entered me into the Greater Manchester Awards where I was extremely shocked to also win the Coach of the Year.
My role within The Snake Pit is somewhat different. I am really passionate about Catch and think it would be criminal for this sport to be forgotten. I am acutely aware that to prevent this happening requires the very few original genuine Catch wrestlers remaining across the world to preserve this by passing on their knowledge. I am conscious that time does not permit us to put energy where it could be potentially lost and it is for this reason that we are keen to ensure that the right people are involved from the outset. My main goal is to stay focused on the vision we have for Catch locally, nationally and internationally both short and long term.
Part of my role will be to ensure that we source and develop the right partnerships with coaches and clubs to ensure that my father, Roy, will be passing his knowledge on to the right people and that Catch will be revived with a newfound energy and value for the sport it is and has always been.
I also want to preserve all the documentation and history that we have by way of an archiving system and by using various media to ensure that this is shared with all those interested in knowing Catch and it’s history in depth from a Wigan roots perspective.
Another key part of the programme for me is the scholarship programme. I feel very strongly about people who need a chance in life having one and I hope that our scholarship programme gives opportunities to people who would not normally get that chance.
No doubt, I will have other roles which will involve cleaning mats and earning a general title of, as we say in Wigan, “mucker inn’er” (translation for the rest of the world outside Wigan – “doing whatever jobs needs to be done” ) but all in all I hope to help in any way I can with the Snake Pit as I love everything it stands for and feel privileged to be part of it all.
If anyone wishes to contact me please feel free to email me on email@example.com
I have trained since I was 9 and have studied a lot of martial arts but I have always lent towards the grappling arts. I have trained freestyle, jui jitsu but I literally got hooked on Catch!
I have researched the system for years and have been out to America on a number of occasions. I managed to track Billy Wicks down and he introduced me to John Huskey who he trained himself for around 12 years. Billy was trained by a Carny Hooker called Henry Koln who was trained by the great Martin [Farmer] Burns who is reckoned by most to be the greatest catch wrestler America has ever produced. The lineage has to be one of the best there is and Billy certified our gym in Manchester and that makes us the only gym outside the USA to achieve this.
There are too many people passing themselves off as catch schools and I worry this might water the system down. I think Roy Wood teaching it has to be a good thing because like Billy Wicks he is genuine and without people like this the art will die. I know how good Roy is as a coach because he used to coach me freestyle! I hope we can keep Catch close to its roots and only let genuine people train and not go down the road that BJJ has where there is a gym on every street corner, I think we need quality not quantity.
My gym is open all week and we try our best to train catch in its purest form I am happy we are associated with the Snake Pit in Wigan..
Coach Osamu Matsunami
Osamu first came to Wigan 20 years ago after hearing about the legendary Rileys gym. He learned catch wrestling from Roy , and over the last 20 years has honed his art also learning from Billy Robinson another legendary student of Billy Riley. He runs the Rileys gym in Kyoto teaching Catch Wrestling . In November 2012 not only was he made a coach of the Snakepit, but he took part in and won the very first Catch wrestling match that had been held in Wigan for the last 50 years.
I have trained in Japanese martial arts for twenty years. I fell in love with catch wrestling after training with Roy in 2011 and have been hooked since. I run an affiliate club in Llanelli, Wales and help out with the admin of the website and facebook pages. I welcome anyone who wishes to train in catch wrestling to our training group.