An American researcher is trying to find out more about wrestling in Huddersfield 150 years ago – especially a festival known as Longwood Thump.
Ruslan Pashayev, 40, of Delaware, Ohio, says Longwood Thump could have been what was known as folk wrestling - and thinks it could have originated in Lindley.
He contacted Huddersfield Local History Society to find out what they knew - but this bizarre query has left them scratching their heads.
Ruslan, who also teaches ballroom dancing, Ohio, said: "Ancient wrestling is my greatest hobby.
"I want to understand the cultural background of local wrestling and what locals were calling it back in the day.”
He has unearthed some fascinating snippets about wrestling in Huddersfield during his research.
A story appeared in the Huddersfield Chronicle on August 1, 1857, headlined A Disgusting Exhibition At Lindley.
It read: “Joseph Dyson and Thomas Garside were cited to appear for having broken the public peace at Lindley. County police officer No 376 found the two men wrestling at the back of the old Black Bull Inn in the presence of men and women.
“Dyson was completely naked and the other defendant had only his trousers on. The defendants were ordered to enter into their own sureties in £5 each to keep the peace.”
Ruslan said: "There were at least two folk wrestling styles called Back-Hold and Catch-as-catch-can.
"My research shows that back-hold was mostly represented in northern counties and the Lake District, while catch was present at south Lancashire towns like Rochdale, Bolton, Bury and Oldham but also present in some Yorkshire towns like Huddersfield.
"Both styles were popular rural pastimes widely practiced as amusements at Sunday markets and other local folk festivals.“
He believes one was known as Longwood Thump and wonders if this originated in Huddersfield. It’s thought this kind of wrestling was at its height in the mid 1800s.
Many of the wrestlers gave their professions as weavers, so it's believed it was rife in the mills at the time and at wool fairs.
Ruslan added: “When wrestling was part of local festivals and pastimes it was still amateur even though the champion would receive some little money for his victory.”
Ruslan's research turned up a report from the Huddersfield Chronicle dated September 1, 1866, about a grudge wrestling match at Oldfield race grounds on Honley Moor with gamblers distinctly unhappy at the final outcome.
The report states: “The competitors were James Whitehead from Honley and Thomas Beaumont from Linthwaite. There was a multitude present to watch the two men tug and pull for three or four hours together to see which could throw the other down.
“During the struggle each managed to throw his opponent once. This, however, did not decide the match which was to be two out of three falls and the final struggle took place last Saturday and in 10 minutes the Honley man was beaten.
"The sudden termination of the struggle caused much dissatisfaction among his backers who charged him with being a ‘black leg’ inasmuch as it took two-and-a-half hours to throw him on the first occasion.”
Anyone with information can contact Ruslan by email at email@example.com