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The eighth in an annual series, held July 19 through July 22 at a large
campground in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania, HillSide was
conceived in 1994 after the highly successful GayGames IV as an informal
‘wrestling camp’, for the more serious gay wrestlers to get even more
competitive. But since then, it has evolved into a multi faceted
‘mixed’ event that has become -THE- signature event for the ever growing
–cult- of ‘underground grapplers’, who have evolved from ‘Don’t Ask -
Don’t Tell’, to ‘Don’t Care - Shut Up and Wrestle!’.
Hillside Wrestling Weekend VIII
This years activities attracted some 155 wrestlers from all over North
America, and Europe. Many of the various ‘grappling’ styles were well
represented (FreeStyle, GRECO, SOMBO, Folk, Submission, and Pro). There
was a lot more cross technical interaction than in previous years.
Technique/rules clinics and live sparring filled the schedule from dawn
until very late into the night, and there were plenty of coaches,
opponents, and mat space under the multiple tents. This year’s group,
though slightly smaller than previous years, was none-the-less more
‘hard-core’. Even this writer's FreeStyle bias has been compromised.
It is just amazing how my first 3 choke submissions (‘tapouts’) have
changed my view of the world.
Coupled with the non-stop mat action, the campsite offers a beautiful
outdoor pool, a nightly bonfire, and numerous hiking trails. All meals
are prepared and taken outdoors communally. Camaraderie, competition,
and family (and maybe no deodorant) are the keywords that best epitomize
the event. There is only one requirement: -all- must wrestle to the
best of their ability.
If the level of this year's competition is any indication, next year’s
Sydney 2002 GayGames VI wrestling will be loaded with talent. Probably
the most competitive and physical match of the weekend occurred Saturday
at 188# between Philadelphia Spartan’s Malcolm and San Francisco Golden
Gate Wrestling’s Calvin. As expected (but not hyped), the entire camp
was riveted on this clash of titans (which only proved that we must go
to Sydney in 2002 to see it resolved).
Besides the usual series of great bouts, this year’s wrestlers were
treated to some extraordinary entertainment. Andreas Czerney of
Frankfurt, besides being one of the most skilled and respected HillSide
wrestlers, is a renown German opera singer (bass-baritone). This
‘Singen-Ringen’ cuts an extraordinarily handsome figure in a singlet or
a dragoon uniform, besides sending dark chills through your spine when
he sings. He has just recently released a CD recording of Schubert’s
One of the staples of the weekend is the annual meeting of Wrestlers
WithOut Borders (WWB), an international federation of wrestling teams
that maintains voting directorship status with the Federation of Gay
Games. Some of the clubs represented this year were delegates from NYC,
San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto,
Sydney, Boston, Washington DC, Frankfurt, and Tampa.
High on the agenda was the evaluation of the bids for GayGames 2006
(Los Angeles, Montreal, Chicago, and Atlanta), one of which will be
chosen this October in Johannesburg. Also discussed was the upcoming
Sydney 2002 GayGames event, more aggressive outreach to more of the
European clubs, establishing a website, the securing of a professional
Federation owned video of the wrestling competition, and the
establishment of an annual calendar (circuit) of international wrestling
events similar to HillSide. Rick Van Tassell of Philadelphia and Erich
Richter of San Francisco were unanimously elected WWB Federation
representatives and WWB officers for 2001/2002.