Sunderland taxi driver Rob swaps fares for gravy grappling in world championship wrestling event for charity
Sunderland taxi driver Rob Berry is ready to get out from behind the wheel and into the ring as he takes part in a tasty challenge.
The 50-year-old from Pennywell, who has worked for Station Taxis for 20 years, is poised to challenge fellow fighters in the World Gravy Wrestling Championships.
It will see him get into an arena filled with warm gravy as he takes on others in a bid to take the top spot in the bizarre sporting challenge.
Rob, who is married to Tracy, and dad to Alana, 15, Megan, 22, and Jamie, 29, will be taking part in the competition for the fourth year running and will be raising money for Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) which treats youngsters with heart conditions.
He backs the charity in memory of Layla Davis, from Ryhope, who died in October 2016 aged just four after undergoing a heart transplant after she was born with Shone’s Complex, a rare heart defect.
This year, Rob will pull on his Mr Incredible suit once more as he raises funds for the cause.
Rob, who has been involved in mixed martial arts for years, is a forth dan in Karate and trains through the Shinzen-Ki club based in Thorney Close and Grindon, and a second dan in Jiu Jitsu.
He got into gravy wrestling when a friend suggested he join in.
It takes placed as part of a funday held by the Rose ‘N’ Bowl in Rossendale, Lancashire, on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.
Rob joked he first told his wife of a ‘dirty weekend’ away only to reveal the true reason for the trip.
Now the fancy dress event has become an annual pilgrimage, with the special meaty sauce mixed up by an award winning black pudding maker, with the gravy topped up during the bouts.
“Truthfully, it’s a bit messy,” said Rob, who has previously taken part in Station Taxis Cabpool Karakoe series, belting out hits with customers in the firm’s own version of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.
“It’s for a great cause, CHUF, so even if I put out after the first round, I’ve still earned my money for the charity, but I would love to win.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
“I’m friends with Layla’s dad Steve and it means a lot to support the charity.
“There’s no training you can do, because as soon as you’re covered in gravy, it’s crazy.
“I’m trained in MMA, some have done Jiu Jitsu, some have done Judo, but as soon as you’re in liquid, you slip up.
“It’s done in fancy dress, so usually, the more clothes you have on, the more there is for the other to grab onto, but everyone is slippy.
“It’s a crazy event but I’ve met some lovely people.”
Rob has set up a Just Giving page to collect sponsorship and is aiming to raise £700 this year.
Anyone who would like to back him can visit justgiving.com/fundraising/robert-berry12.