Police officer uses wrestling to build community spirit

ON THE BEAT: PC Paul Wood who is teaching wrestling to youngsters at St Teresa's Primary School in Preston
ON THE BEAT: PC Paul Wood who is teaching wrestling to youngsters at St Teresa's Primary School in Preston
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He’s grappled with British Bulldog and tangled with Dynamite Kid...

But Preston’s wrestling policeman is facing his biggest challenge yet.

PC Paul Wood, 46, a community beat manager on the Fishwick beat, is hoping some of his finely-tuned special moves will guide youngsters across the city to a healthier lifestyle.

From the age of 10 Paul began learning freestyle wrestling at a club in Wigan and went on travel the world competing at club and international level.

PC Wood, a married dad-of-five, is hoping the great experiences he enjoyed will rub off on the city’s budding young wrestlers.

He said: “From the age of 10 to 17 I did a lot of competing at national and international competitions.

“Probably my peak was when I went to Belgium in a European club competition and got a silver medal and I also wrestled in the England, Scottish, German tri-nation competition, when I got second as well.

“When I was about 14, 15 I wrestled with British Bulldog and Dynamite Kid.

“They went to Canada and wrestled with Stampede and then WWF.

“I never wrestled them in competitions, but in training I got the better of them.”

PC Wood is holding classes for youngsters aged eight to 13 across the city including St Teresa’s RC Primary School, in Downing Street, Callon, and Moorbrook School, in Ainslie Road, Fulwood.

He said: “It is a chance to try something different.

“I think it goes right back, people have always wrestled.

“It goes back to ancient Greek times and it has gone through the ages – it is to challenge one person against another.

“We are trying to build it up from these roots and hopefully people will take it on board.

“People are entering the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games and are able to compete throughout Europe.”

In Bolton and Wigan, Olympic Freestyle Wrestling has been established for more than a decade.

PC Wood took the chance to bring it to Preston when his boss was quizzing him about of ways to engage with young people.

He said: We were having the annual review and they were asking us community policemen were doing with the age group between eight and 13 years of age.

“We thought we could use sports as a medium to get greater links with the community and police.

“It is a diversionary activity to get them interested in something other than hanging around on street corners.”