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In the Lion’s Den

CARLOS ATWELL, [email protected]

In the Lion’s Den

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These particular lions do not feature teeth and claws however but rather athleticism, determination and a love of wrestling.

That’s right, the Lion’s Den is a group of local wrestlers, part of the Barbados Wrestling Association.

But do not expect the people’s elbow, pile drivers, sweet chin music or choke slams here as these young men practice the competitive freestyle and grappling/submission styles.

“The thing about professional (WWE) wrestling is it’s all scripted. Here, expect the unexpected. We’re all about fun and healthy competition,” said the association’s public relations officer Rashaad Bryan.

Their forms of wrestling include a point system for particular moves and submissions rather than high flying moves but it is just as competitive, with coach and athlete Jerome Hoyte representing Barbados at the Pan-Am games.

“That was my first major competition. I beat the local competitors and was sent to the games and while I didn’t place, I learned a lot. To compete on that level, you really have to train hard and take it seriously, including watching your diet. That experience changed my life and I hope to do it again,” he said, adding he would be training again in earnest from next year.

In addition to being a level one United World Wrestling coach, Hoyte is the vice president of the association and the longest-serving member of the Lion’s Den. He said freestyle wrestling was not as recognised as some other sports in Barbados but they were determined to make a difference.

“I don’t coach for profit, I do it to pass on what I know so that one day Barbados may have someone competing on the international stage. The grassroots level programme for kids is actually pretty big but adults tend to quit quickly as they can’t seem to handle the physical aspect,” he said. (CA)

Read the full story in today’s Saturday Sun, or in the eNATION edition.