COMPETING at the annual Toe Wrestling Championship is how big-city accountant Clive De Silva gets away from it all.
The 39-year-old, who came second in this year's annual championship held at the Bentley Brook Inn, Ashbourne, has been a regular for the past five years.
He lost on Saturday to Alan "Nasty" Nash.
Clive, who is a fitness fiend – running, swimming and visiting the gym regularly, said he started the toe wrestling for "a bit of fun" and to "get away from London" for a few days.
Clive, of Harrow, said: "I saw an advert on the internet a few years ago and I thought it would be interesting to try.
"It is the only internationally recognised toe wrestling championship that I have heard of."
He said the only training he did, apart from his usual fitness routine, was to wear special exercise sandals before the matches to strengthen his feet.
"You do need to be fit," said Clive.
"You need good balance and body strength. It's quite painful."
He said that few of his friends and none of his colleagues knew that he competed in the activity.
He said: "I can see it's a bit eccentric. It's really just a bit of a laugh – I don't think we take it that seriously.
"I stay over and get to go for a walk and see a bit of the countryside."
Clive said about 40 people attended the event on Saturday, adding: "It's a really friendly event – a lot of regulars go, who I know quite well now."
There is both a men's and a women's competition at the event.
Toe wrestling is a medieval sport that was revived in 1974 when a publican at the Old Royal Oak pub in Wetton found an old rules document.
He thought it sounded like something the English could be good at, so organised a tournament.
But it was won by a Canadian and the sport was suspended.
It was then picked up again in 1994 and won by Mr Nash.