Three sisters from Cumbria are heading to London today, (Thurs June 16) to start wrestling bouts in famous tourist areas.
The Hodgson sisters will wear full traditional regalia in a series of promotional events to highlight the first ever women’s world championship in Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling this summer at Ambleside Sports.
Their sporting day out is supported by the Lake District National Park who see traditional sports as a key feature of their bid for World Heritage status, and by Virgin Trains who link London with the Lakes.
Tracy (25), Connie (20) and Rosie (9) Hodgson will be accompanied by mum Wendy and dad Trevor, who is a former two-times world champion. The family lives in Dent. Hannah (21) was supposed to be there too, but she’s sprained her ankle and is on crutches.
The traditional sport, at which women were allowed to compete for the first time only ten years ago, will feature the world title event in the “all-weights” division at Ambleside Sports on July 28.
Like their male counterparts, women wrestlers will be expected to wear the traditional costume of long leggings with a singlet and elasticated centre-piece. Embroidered motifs are common but optional.
Cumberland wrestling is a key feature of the traditional sports fixtures throughout the Lake District each summer. Thought to have Norse or Viking origins, it was practised in the north long before football and cricket became popular games.
“We are very proud to be hosting the first world championship,” said Jak Hirst, the Ambleside Sports chairman and a former professional juggler.
“We have staged women’s events over the last few years but we are thrilled to have the world championship here in our 130th anniversary.”
Virgin Trains are supporting Ambleside Sports this year, and they have provided tickets for the Hodgson sisters’ visit to London. They also arranged for “The Cumbrian Spirit” pendolino train to take the party from Oxenholme to London. This train was named in March to celebrate the spirit of the Cumbrian people following the floods.
John Hodgson, World Heritage Coordinator for the Lake District National Park said: “Traditional sports, such as Cumbrian Wrestling, are a key feature of the World Heritage bid as a rich cultural landscape. Good luck to the women wrestlers taking the sport to London!”
Michelle Ragozzino, Virgin Trains Station Manager at Oxenholme, said: “We’re keen to showcase everything Cumbria has to offer and that it is very much open for business this summer, following the devastating floods earlier in the year. We’re proud to play our part in highlighting that the world’s first ever women’s wrestling championships will be taking place in Ambleside. We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the world to Oxenholme and hope they have chance to explore this beautiful region.”
The first Ambleside Sports featured wrestling along with the same events which are on the schedules today: fell running, track racing, track cycling and hound-trailing.
Cumberland wrestling has parallels elsewhere in Eastern Europe, in Iceland and in Brittany. In the UK, there are mixed events for juniors under 12, as happens in other sports, and then separate bouts for men and women. “We’ve had plenty of girls and women competing at Ambleside over the last few years,” said Jak Hirst.
Connie (20), a sports coaching student, said: “We all love it. We used to go with dad to the wrestling academy in Kendal,” said Connie. “It’s a quick and nimble sport. And it was something different to talk about at school.”
Ambleside Traditional Lakeland Sports will be held at Rydal Park, Thursday July 28