Cornish Wrestling

Wrestling is a distinct Cornish tradition that survives to the present day. The history of Cornish Wrestling goes back so far it is lost in the midst of time. The first mention of Celtic Wrestling appears in the ancient book of Leinster, referring to the sport being included in the Tailteann Games which date back to at least 1829 BC. We know Wrestling was established in Cornwall before the Roman invasion and that the Cornish meetings on Halvager Moor were held during the dark-ages. The Cornish contingent with Henry V at Agincourt (1415) marched under a banner depicting two Wrestlers “in a hitch”.

The banner needed no words; the pictures of the wrestlers was enough to let anyone know the men of Cornwall were behind it. The same banner flew for the team of Cornish Wrestlers who represented Henry VIII when he met with the king of France on the “Field of the Cloth of Gold” and won their tournament. Perhaps this is why Henry VIII insisted upon entitling himself Duke of Cornwall as well as King of England and Prince of Wales!

Wrestling is our national sport in Cornwall, a direct living link with our ancestors handed down through an un-broken chain, from father to son, brother to brother and friend to friend for over 3,000 years. The “Wrestlers Oath” is sworn by all Wrestlers prior to any wrestling taking place: War ow enor ha war enor ow bro, my a de omewlel hep traytury na garowder, hag avel ol ow lelder my a ystyn ow luf dhe’m contrary. Gans geryow ow hendasow: “gwary whek yu gwary tek”.

On my honour and the honour of my country, I swear to wrestle without treachery or brutality and in token of my sincerity I offer my hand to my opponent. In the words of my forefathers “gwary whek yu gwary tek “good play is fair play”.