He's a bobsledding champ and a keen rugby player, but how will Hot 100 winner Simon Dunn go when he dons the lycra for a bout of wrestling? Find out below...
Being a fan of all things sport and teams who identify themselves as inclusive, I decided to pull on the lycra and give wrestling a go with the Sydney Silverbacks (also known as Harbour City Wrestling Club). They are an inclusive wrestling club based out of Sydney, Australia. They were found in 1993, and have since held weekly training nights, beginner workshops and regular intra-club tournaments. They also participate in international competitions including the Gay Games and the Don Jung Tournament in San Francisco.
I foolishly thought wrestling would be a piece of cake because I’m a bobsledder and rugby player – but when the word “technical” came out it was all downhill from there. Yes I'm strong and can tackle, but I soon learnt the sport was all about technique and this newbie had none. The Silverbacks train in two different styles of wrestling, freestyle and Roman-Greco – which determines whether you can use moves above or below the waist. I was paired up with Nafez Bey - a dark-featured, stocky man who certainly knew his stuff. It was at that point I knew I was going down.
After some initial small talk it was time to start. We warmed up and went over some technical moves, and it at this exact moment I realized I was in over my head. Being the competitive guy I am, I was going to give it my all. Effort aside, I was beaten in every single round, so perhaps wrestling isn't for this bobsledder.
Even though I won’t be donning the uniform in the near future – it did open my eyes to the vast amount of sports out there that are just like the Silverbacks. Sydney has inclusive waterpolo, netball, running, yoga, tennis group and so much more.
I questioned Nafez about why he’s with the club and does he feel the need for “inclusive” teams? He came back with the perfect answer: “It's a fun way I'm able to keep fit without my sexuality being an issue. I feel the sporting world is a long way from truly accepting gay athletes. So I feel comfortable here doing what I love.”
I spoke with club members and from personal experience you really do see the value in “inclusive” teams. The sporting world is hyper-masculine and traditional perceptions of gay men generally mandates they have no place in sport. The Silverbacks and clubs like them give the opportunity for athletes who would normally leave sport to continue training, competing and partaking in their chosen sport. I’d love to see some of these sports get a bit more publicity within the community because people who aren’t comfortable with the sexuality – like I was as a teen – should be encouraged to seek out a team who will take them in. There are countless studies which show exercise is one of the best anti-depressants which would go a long way in helping anyone who is depressed about who they are.
Words by SIMON DUNN.More stories:Simon Dunn on September 11 hero Mark Bingham’s legacySimon Dunn: ‘I wish Keegan and Sam had been there when I was growing up’Watch: HOT 100 winner Simon Dunn answers your very personal questions