Royston grappler Brad Tannen: ‘Wrestling gives me a sense of achievement I’ve never felt before’
PUBLISHED: 17:15 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:00 28 November 2017
Wrestling is a form of entertainment which has been often derided as lacking authenticity.
But listening to Brad Dolan tell his story he’s the happiest he’s even been after the former rugby player gave up chasing the oval-shaped ball to follow his dream of becoming a wrestler.
The sport returns to the 29-year-old semi-professional wrestler’s hometown next month as he aims to earn the right to be called the No1 contender for Ultimate British Wrestling’s Heavyweight Champion.
The Royston grappler, who trains in Hitchin under the fighting name of Brad Tannen, is as mild-mannered away from the ring as he is intimidating inside it.
Sharing his experiences with CrowSport ahead of fighting in front of a packed house at the Coombes Community Centre, he said: “I originally broke into wrestling a couple of years ago, after making the swap from the rugby pitch to the ring.
“After a number of injuries, I wanted to move onto a sport in which I could still use my physical prowess, but minus the cold frozen pitches and the early Sunday mornings.
“I thought becoming a wrestler would remain my childhood dream, but over the last two years I’ve been lucky enough to work for a number of promotions up and down the country, meeting some amazing people and all the while, having fun doing it.”
But what would he say to those who accuse this form of entertainment as being staged – and as Louis Theroux once memorably asked in a BBC documentary on wrestling – inauthentic?
He says: “It still takes a lot to get in the ring. It’s a contact sport.
“I often get asked what it takes to make it as a wrestler. My response would be hard work and dedication.
“I love what I do. I broke my ankle walking home from the pub about three years ago. If I did that what’s the worst which can happen in the ring?
“If I were to win and move one step closer to the British title it would mean the world to me and make all the weightlifting, hard work and clean eating worth it.”
There is certainly nothing staged about his training regime, having been tutored by Paul Ashe and Damon Kruiz as the Ultimate British Training School in Hitchin, where he can still be found practicing every Sunday evening.
He also takes part in gruelling weight training sessions most mornings at Wilmott’s Gym in Royston, often training with fellow wrestler Hugo Bloom.
But where did he get his name from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. The story goes Steve Austin – who was once the biggest thing in this form of entertainment – demanded a new moniker from WWF bigwigs. Apparently they wanted to re-christen him ‘Ice Dagger’ which he turned down flat.
In a desperate brainstorm – along the lines of Alan Partridge’s ‘Monkey Tennis’ pitches to fictional controller Tony Hayes at the BBC – the name ‘Chilly McFreeze’ was mooted.
Austin was furious and stormed out of the meeting at WWF’s plush offices in Stamford, Connecticut.
His wife soothed him with a cup of tea, telling him to drink it before it become ‘stone cold’ – and the rest is history.
Brad – a lifelong wrestling and movie fan who started watching WWF back in the mid 90’s, with his biggest idol being The Rock – explained: “My favourite film is Back To The Future and I got the name Tannen from the character Biff.
“Other influences to inspire me include Razor Ramon, Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels – they had a profound effect on me.
“There is a quote from Razor I often call upon: “Hard work pays off, dreams comes true, bad times don’t last, but bad guys do”.
“Wrestling gives me a sense of achievement and fan interaction which I have never felt before.”
If Brad wins on Saturday, December 16 – in front of his old school pals and his proud mum – to move one step closer to becoming a British Champion it will be hard to argue his feelings of joy won’t be anything other than genuine.
For tickets visit www.ticketsource.co.uk.
To learn more about Brad click on his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter @BradTannen and Instagram @brad_dolan.