On February 27th, 2014, wrestling legend and my coach, Billy Robinson passed away in his sleep. This news was not known until Monday, March 3rd when catch-as-catch-can practicioner Jake Shannon broke the news on his "Scientific Wrestling" page on Facebook. He posted this message, which I woke up to on Monday morning, "I am unbelievably sad to report that my very good friend Billy Robinson passed away today. I hadn't heard from him in days so I contacted his apartment complex to check in on him. When I called back for a progress report the apartment manager put the police on the phone, it seems he passed peacefully in his sleep. He was a lion of a man, bigger than life in so many ways, my wife and I named our youngest son, Lliam in his honor. You will be sorely missed, my friend. Thank you so much for living the life you did.". It was a huge loss to the wrestling industry, and the world as a whole. It pains me being on Facebook and not seeing him online or posting statuses anymore, and it pains me even more to know that I will never be in his presence again. He was a man who was the last of his kind, a true catch wrestling legend, and one of the last remaining hookers in the entire world.
His teaching style was very unique, especially for current day. He was very old school in the way he handled his students. He would want perfection from his students. If you did it very good, it wasn't good enough. He would find the smallest details or things that you did wrong or could have done better, and would yell out his favorite saying, "Do it again!" until you perfected it, and we would move on to the next technique. For example, when he was coaching MMA fighter Shayna Balszer, she was working on a certain technique, a submission, and Billy told her to simply change the placement of her thumb and it went from the submission not working to definitely working. That's how knowledgeable he was of wrestling. I coined him "The Connoiseur of the Human Body", and I believe that's an extremely fitting nickname for him.
The first time I met him was June 17th, 2013. I will never forget that Monday night. As we were finishing up our prior class and are doing our drills (push-ups at the time), Billy walked in and observed our stamina and endurance. After the class, my first interaction with him was him telling me "Good job.", which were just two simple words, but made me feel like a huge dork and acting all real excited to my friend in the back just over that. *laughs* Anyway, class started, and I quickly started grasping things that I never really grasped before. We didn't go over a lot that day, and that's the way he did things. He would only do a couple or few (if he felt like it) things at a time, because he wanted everyone to get everything down to its highest potential rather than learning a bunch of things and doing a couple or few things "okay". That was not his style at all, and that became really evident after just one class. We went over mostly back laterals that day, which is a really basic move in catch. My school boys were also ten times better after that day. No one ever really taught me how to do a proper school boy, but I damn sure how knew how to do one after that day. "Drop to 'ya hip!".
My favorite class with him was my last one in July. This was one of the rare classes where we learned a lot of things in one day. I guess he was just in one of those moods, but he would not move on until everyone grasped each technique. If he had to spend more time on helping one of his students get a technique down, he would, but there were also times when he would just throw his hands in the air and yell curse words or British slang insults, then move on to the next thing. *laughs* In this day, my sit out improved, ten fold, which I love utilizing when given the opportunity.
My memories of Coach Billy overall are very good. He was extremely kind to me, but also hard in the coach sense. It showed how seriously he took teaching. When class was over, he was the nicest guy in the world, a completely different person, but when class started, he was not there to blow smoke up anyone's asses. He was there to make them better. If someone wasn't getting something, he would drill it into their head, and if he was standing over you with his trademark cane, he meant business and you best get it right. This is how I will forever remember him, as an extremely serious coach and fantastic person. He will live forever in his contributions to professional wrestling, catch wrestling, and mixed martial arts.