Former wrestler Tommy gets to grips with journey through past

Ex-wrestler Tommy Stevenson with his old wrestling boots reflects on his career in the sport.
Ex-wrestler Tommy Stevenson with his old wrestling boots reflects on his career in the sport.

A former wrestler recently honoured by Hawick Rotarians has been taking a nostalgic look back at his career in the ring as he gets to grips with his new role as a full member of the club.

From 1969 through to 1986 Tommy Stevenson, under the name Scott Thomson, took part in numerous bouts over the course of a 27-year career.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson with Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson with Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco.

The Glasgow-born grappler also worked in local government in Ayrshire and stood as a Scottish National Party candidate for Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick and Hermitage ward at 2012’s local election.

At a recent meeting of Hawick Rotary Club, Mr Stevenson, also said to have dedicated a great deal of time to the Boys’ Brigade movement and Teviothead Parish Church, was inducted as a full member, as reported in the Hawick News.

That honour inspired Tommy, 77 next week, to dig out his photo album of sporting memories.

Later this month, he will head off to an annual reunion of ex-professional wrestlers in Kent, an event at which he always receives the warmest of welcomes.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson, as Scott Thomson, in action against Jim Morgan.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson, as Scott Thomson, in action against Jim Morgan.

Born in Govan, it was a chance encounter with Ayr wrestler Dale Storm after a wrestling show that first persuaded him to attend Dale’s gym for a tryout.

That was the start of a formidable career in the sport’s lightweight division, in which he was one of the fastest and strongest competitors around.

He went on to become a crowd-pleaser, with among his toughest opponents being Ireland’s Michael O’Hagan and former British lightweight champion Ian McKenzie.

Perhaps his greatest achievement came in the late 1970s when a bout with Johnny Saint, regarded as the best in the business at the time, was evenly balanced at one fall each, only for an accidental shoulder injury to prevent a first career win over the sporting legend.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson with Jane Wade, daughter of big Daddy, and Johnny Saint at a reunion in Leeds.

Former wrestler Tommy Stevenson with Jane Wade, daughter of big Daddy, and Johnny Saint at a reunion in Leeds.

Today, Tommy, now of Bonjedward but formerly of Teinside, near Teviothead, still attends boxing reunion events nationwide and has received two lifetime achievement awards in recognition of his time in the ring.

Tommy, whose wife of 54 years, Margaret, died two years ago, said: “There is nothing like stepping through the ropes and hearing the applause.

“A couple of years ago, at a life achievement awards event in Dundee, I was invited to take part in an exhibition event with a younger fella.

“It would have been just a question of going through the motions, but my daughter Lorraine told me not to do it at my age. But I was tempted. You don’t lose the love of the sport.

“I still love meeting up with the old wrestlers, some of whom you haven’t seen for 20 or 30 years. There is such a great comradeship among us. We’re like brothers.”

One of the most uplifting moments in Tommy’s post-wrestling career came two years ago, he said, when he took part in a tribute to murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Kent.

Tommy added: “It showed what the wrestling fraternity is capable of.

“There were pipers and the legendary Kendo Nagasaki was there. It was all very emotional.”