Everything you need to know about Grant Holt’s wrestling debut

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Former Norwich City striker Grant Holt began his new career in wrestling last weekend. Here’s everything you need to know about his debut bout.

Over nearly 20 years in professional football, Carlisle-born Grant Holt scored 157 league goals, earning himself a reputation as one of the best forwards in the lower leagues.

It was at Norwich where he found his best form, captaining the club through successive promotions, and in the 2011-12 season he scored an impressive 15 goals in the Premier League, his first in the top flight.

There was even talk of an England call-up ahead of Euro 2012.

Four years in Norfolk were followed by spells at Wigan, Aston Villa and four other clubs, and Holt finally hung up his boots in August after a goalless final season with Barrow in the National League.

But now he has a new sport: wrestling.

On Saturday, the 37-year-old took part in his first World Association of Wrestling (WAW) fight, which just so happened to be a 40-man royal rumble.

This is everything you need to know about the epic bout.

1. Holt’s wrestling costume is very much ‘geographer at student nightclub’

Holt took to the ring in trousers, a blue sweater and a white polo shirt, looking every bit the River Island-clad fresher queuing up for a ten-shots-for-ten-pounds night called ‘Xcite’ or ‘PuLsE’.

He explained the garb on Twitter, noting he had come straight from punditry at BT Sport.

2. Holt won his first fight

We don’t know what the conventions are for talking about wrestling results, but Holt definitely ‘won’ this fight. The success earned him the Crusher Mason Memorial Trophy.


By way of contrast, Holt’s debut for Norwich was a bone-crushing 7-1 defeat to Colchester.

3. Holt wants to join WWE

Holt could someday fight the likes of John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker, because he wants to join the lucrative WWE franchise.

Fingers crossed that happens.

4. Holt struggled to get over the ropes

Even while playing alongside Steve Morison and Simeon Jackson, Holt was never known for his elegance.


That rough-around-the-edges style may translate into his wrestling career: at a critical moment of the fight, Holt struggled to get back into the ring and had to be assisted by a recently eliminated opponent named Ricky Knight Jr.

Holt put the struggle down to his tight-fitting attire.

5. Holt ate a pie before wrestling

Another excuse for not getting back into the ring was a pre-fight pie, confirmed by BT Sport anchor Matt Smith.

One of football’s biggest pie controversies occurred in February 2017, when Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw ate a pie while sitting on the bench during an FA Cup match against Arsenal.

The FA accused Shaw of breaching betting rules — Sun Bets had offered 8/1 odds on Shaw eating a pie during the match — and the keeper was forced to leave the club.

6. The appearance was premature

Having only started training in May, Holt’s first fight was scheduled to be the ‘Fightmare 3’ event in 2019.

7. Holt will have a tag team partner next year

Holt won’t always go it alone: next year, the big goalscorer will fight alongside a tag team partner for at least one event.

It won’t be 35-year-old Millwall forward Steve Morison, with whom Holt founded a greyhound racing club in 2013, but rather 64-year-old Ricky Knight Sr, owner of the WAW franchise.

8. Holt spent the day before the rumble at a spa

Twitter suggests that Holt spent the day prior to his debut fight at the Aqua Sana Spa in Suffolk, which sounds lovely — though we would have done the two activities the other way around.

In 1904, the FA informed Norwich, then an amateur club, that they had been reclassified as professional because they had been supplying massages and gym time for players.

9. Some of Holt’s opponents have more wrestling-sounding names than ‘Grant Holt’

If Holt’s WAW career is a long one, he could face the likes of Ruffneck, Demolition Davies and Rocker Richards.

10. Holt isn’t the first footballer to become a wrestler

Holt follows in the footsteps of German goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who followed a successful career in football (he earned six caps for the German national team) with a semi-successful career in wrestling.


Wiese made his WWE debut as ‘The Machine’ in November 2016, but has since returned to football at semi-professional level.

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