They might be small, but the Tawa Tigers junior wrestlers have a mighty roar.
Eleven Tiger cubs, aged 6 to 10, will compete this weekend in an international tournament at Te Rauparaha Arena. While older wrestlers will get a chance to grapple visiting American wrestlers in the tournament, the juniors will stick to Kiwi opponents in their weight range.
The Tawa Tigers have had an influx of young wrestlers this year, who are learning the sport quickly and well, says senior coach Scott Laurenson, who once coached Olympic wrestlers.
"It's been absolutely marvellous," he says.
Tawa is the only wrestling club in the Wellington region, so some dedicated athletes travel from as far as Wainuiomata to practise and compete.
Wrestling is a sport that needs professional coaching, he says.
"It's a hard sport. Parents can't teach it, not like rugby and soccer.
"With wrestling, you've got to know what you're doing."
The Tigers are seeking sponsorship for coaching, travel and uniforms - the kids only have second-hand togs at present.
Ten-year-old Georgina Muir began wrestling this year after falling in love with the sport on television.
"I just wanted to wrestle," she says.
She recently won two out of three bouts at a Featherston mini-tournament, and has no trouble beating boys in her weight range.
The 2012 New Zealand Club Wrestling and Grappling Championships at Te Rauparaha Arena, free entry. Friday, August 3: New Zealand v United States test, 7.30pm in the small gym. Saturday, August 4: bouts all day from 9am till 5pm.
- Kapi-Mana News