I’ll understand if you’ve never heard of Alan ‘Nasty’ Nash. Until just a few days ago, I didn’t know the name myself. The 59 year old from Staffordshire, England is a 15 time world champion in the sport of toe wrestling. Yeah, I’d never heard of that either.
Toe wrestling is a sport in which two competitors lock toes, the flats of their feet against each other, and then each attempts to twist their opponent’s foot to the ground. Just picture arm wrestling with a different part. There’s just as much grunting and sweat, but a lot more odor.
Recently, Nash tried to insure his big toe for £1 million. He’s broken the other nine before and had two of them surgically removed due to injuries suffered during matches. It was his unusual insurance coverage request that caught my eye, but it’s his approach to his sport that piqued my interest. I think we can learn a few things from his journey to the top of the toe wrestling world.
Nash has always had a lot of nervous energy. For many years, he drifted from one interest to another in order to occupy his time. He’s always been attracted to the new… the different… even the weird (he was voted Britain’s 2nd most eccentric man in 2002). He’s tried all manner of strange pastimes, including chicken whispering and egg breaking, for which he holds the world record. But while working for band at a toe wrestling competition, he signed up to kill time. He won and immediately knew he’d found his niche. Everything else gave way to his pursuit of toe wrestling dominance. He considers it his calling. What’s your calling, the one thing you want your team to pursue above all else?
There are only so many toe wrestling competitions one can enter each year, and only one world championship. When show time comes around, Nash goes all out to earn his nickname. However, he takes his time outside the ring, officially called a “toe-dium,” just as seriously. In addition to his toe-strengthening exercises, he works to train his legs, back, and shoulders. He performs around two hundred squats a day to keep himself in shape. While most matches last seconds, he once locked up with an opponent for an hour, so trains for endurance as well. In other words, winning is always on his mind. What’s your strategy, the plan your team follows all year long to ensure success?
With 23 awards in his trophy case, Nash has a lot to brag about, but it’s other aspects of the experience that brings him the most joy. He’s traveled the world and established friendships with other who share the same passion. He said “I’ve enjoyed every minute of this. I’ve got to go on shows and do all kinds of things I would have never had the chance to do. I like to think of myself as an ambassador of the sport.” Nash has introduced his step-daughter to tow wrestling and applied to have toe wrestling added as an Olympic sport. His enthusiasm is unmistakable. What’s your spark, that aspect of your job that excites you and makes the effort worthwhile?
‘Nasty’ Nash is set to retire soon; I guess toe wrestling is a young man’s game. Yet, to the end, he retains the mindset of a champion. “I don’t believe anyone can beat me,” he said. “It gives me a psychological edge. I would say I have the world’s strongest toe. I won’t lose.” I can honestly say I believe him.