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Keeping in shape after a sporting life

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Dennis Wainwright's body really took a beating when he was a younger man.

As a wicketkeeper in cricket and a goalkeeper in football, he broke his wrists, his jaw, his nose twice, and was hit by a ball in both eyes.

“I think it improved my looks,” the 83-year-old joked.

Bodybuilding helped him to bounce back faster from all the dings and bangs.

His older brother Gilbert, also a cricketer, first introduced it to him when they were teenagers.

“He always had a gym in the back yard, with horizontal bar and parallel bars,” Mr Wainwright said.

As a result the Wainwright boys were known for looking dapper on the field.

Mr Wainwright played this up by always dressing immaculately, getting his shirts tailor-made.

“When your clothes fit you beautiful, people can't help but look at you a second time,” he said. “Some people talk more about my attire than my actual playing.”

But he didn't get into bodybuilding seriously until his fifties when he was a founder of the Bermuda Bodybuilding Federation. He still has a gym in his basement in Smith's.

“I don't concentrate on big chests and big arms,” he said. “I just focus on tone and being fit.”

One of his favourite pieces of equipment is a teeter that sits in his living room.

“I brought a teeter because I was having problems with my lower back,” he said. “You can lay on it and hang by your feet. It is a good stretching position, especially early mornings when you get up.”

He was born in Wellington, St George's, but moved to Flatts Hill, Smith's, early on in his life. His father Wilton was a carpenter and his mother Adrie was a homemaker. He was one of eight children.

In the 1940s and 1950s, there was always a cricket game going on in Flatts.

“Anywhere you found a flat backyard, there was cricket being played with either a real bat, or a piece of wood and a tennis ball,” Mr Wainwright said.

He came from a cricketing family, so he learnt the game and how to conduct himself at an early age.

His uncle Philip “Busty” Wainwright was a particular inspiration.

“I lived with him and used to clean his boots.”

He admired how his uncle was a good wicketkeeper and open batsman, but could do well on any part of the field.

“I always admired that and I wanted to be like him. I played all the positions including bowling and I became very good at it. Then I decided I would just stick with opening batting and wicketkeeping. I put a lot of effort into it and became very successful.”

He started playing Cup Match for St George's in 1956 as a reserve player, but by the second game he was one of the 11 players.

He always remembers Cup Match 1960, the year that kicked off a 20-year winning streak for St George's; the team won that year by ten wickets.

“Somerset had beaten us the year before,” he said. “We beat them pretty bad in 1960. We continued to beat them up until I finished. It was either a win or a draw. For 20 years they never won the cup. We had good strong players. When I look at today's performances, there is a whole lot of difference. Some of the players they don't respect official's decisions.”

In 1961, on a tour of England, he was part of an opening partnership with Sheridan Raynor of 253 runs against an English Counties XI.

Today, he is in charge of the The Safe Hands Award for best fielder.

His last Cup Match was in 1977, but he continued to play cricket for a few more years.

He served on the Bermuda Cricket Board for many years. Today, he is an honorary member of Flatts, and a member of the St George's Cricket Club.

“I go frequently just to watch the guys train,” he said. “I don't get involved unless they ask me to, I just watch them.”

In all the years he played for Cup Match he only missed one year, 1967.

His other passion was football, and that year Bermuda was participating in the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.

“I went with the football team,” he said. “Mexico beat us in the finals.”

Over the years he played for Wellington Rovers, St George's Colts and the Young Men's Social Club.

When he wasn't playing sports he worked in hospitality. Between 1958 and 1987, he worked for the Bermudiana Hotel, starting out as a nightclub waiter, and finishing as the assistant manager.

“I loved it,” he said. “If I was to go to work again I would like to work in hospitality. I love people. Tourists come here, they are all uptight. You speak to them and they look at you like you are trying to take something from them. Then when they leave they are speaking to you first and they are smiling and they are relaxed.”

He and his wife, Natalie, celebrated their 60th anniversary on July 2. They first met at a Devonshire Christ Church youth group called St Mathias.

“The secret to a long marriage: learn how to keep your mouth shut,” he laughed. “It takes two to argue.”

The couple have three children Dennis Jr, Deborah and Paula, and one grandson, DeAndre, 19.

Mr Wainwright is particularly proud that his son also played football and cricket, and his grandson aspires to become a professional footballer.

He was appointed a Member of the British Empire in the 2005 Queen's birthday honours for his services to sport and community in Bermuda.

Lifestyle profiles the island's senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

Dennis Wainwright working out in his personal gym (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Dennis Wainwright working out in his personal gym (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Dennis Wainwright playing football with the Wellington Rovers, years ago (Photograph supplied)
Dennis Wainwright behind the wicket (Photograph supplied)
Cricketing brothers Gilbert, left, and Dennis Wainwright (Photograph supplied)

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Published August 13, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated August 12, 2019 at 10:07 pm)

Keeping in shape after a sporting life

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