67-Year-Old Wrestler Tony Collins Inspires with Lockdown Workouts

By Mark Pickering

England's Tony Collins is not your typical 67-year-old great-grandfather. 

You're more likely to see him in a singlet than in a pair of slippers. 

“When I won [my last tournament] n January, and my family asked if I'd be happy to retire now, I told them I'm too young to retire,” said Collins, who lives in Huyton, a town in Merseyside in the North of England. 

While Britain continues to battle the Coronavirus pandemic, the veteran wrestler -- who competes in both freestyle and Greco-Roman events -- has actually ramped up his training at home and his wrestling drills have been central to him maintaining his health and fitness. 

“I've been training very hard in my garden with kettlebells, tyres, medicine balls, solo wrestling drills and have still been able to do park runs and hill sprints,” said the retired scaffolder.

Knowsley Tigers Wrestling Club member Collins, who has fought and won age group titles in Europe, Asia and the Americas and has also medaled at the Veteran World Championships, only took up the sport at the age of 24 by chance but concedes that wrestling has made him the man, the father, the grandfather and the great-grandfather that he is today.  

“A work colleague asked me to go to the local gym and try wrestling.  I never ran or played football or any other sport when I was a kid. I stumbled upon the story of ancient Greek wrestler Milo of Croton which is now Italy. He was the greatest wrestler in the ancient world, winning all the tournaments in ancient Greece. He would wander around the gymnasiums and watch the young wrestlers train and think I too was like them. This story stayed in my mind ever since.”

Collins' garden has been transformed into a wrestling playground where he diligently and daily hones his skills while the world continues to deal with this pandemic. 

“My goal is still to become the veteran world champion and I've bought or borrowed equipment from a CrossFit gym and I've had help and support from my wrestling friends all over the four corners of the world.

“There are lots of ways to create wrestling drills at home and outside areas, keep going is my attitude and my message, that's what makes a champion.”

While the well-traveled Briton naturally pays close attention to ever-changing conditions and government-led restrictions in place, his 40-plus years of wrestling has instilled in him a mindset to stay safe, stay healthy and never lose sight of his goals. 

“Thanks to wrestling I am a different person. I think differently, I approach problems differently to what other people my age would. As soon as we have been given permission to return to the mat I will be banging on the door of our wrestling gym.”