THE PANORAMIC SERIES PT.2
Phil Zwijsen in Antwerp
photography by Davy Van Laere | words by Phil Evans
Professional wrestling and skateboarding, two forms of light entertainment enjoyed by children and adult-kids around the world. The performance of both activities at a professional level requires long days of commitment on the road with a combination of physical skill, energy, dexterity, force, and bravado.
Phil Zwijsen is a professional skateboarder, but I also believe he has the capacity to be a professional wrestler too. I had my first encounter with Phil Z on a massive plane departing from Frankfurt a few years back and despite the fact that Phil was very late and that we were flying to Tokyo, he still found the time to stop in one of the airport's smoking booths to get his nicotine fix before we took off. He arrived onto the flight just in time in a flurry of heavy breathing and cigarette smoke, satisfied that he had pulled off his smoke break trick and got to his flight in time. His first greeting was both friendly and intense, a firm grip with a steely determined gaze and a wide grin. These first impressions of Phil as an intense, determined, energetic individual remain largely undiminished to this day and my trip to Antwerp to film his Panoramic episode only proved to reinforce my impressions of Phil.
I could easily use Phil's skating to illustrate his character traits - he sets his mind to high goals and when he says he will do something he attacks it with dogged determination until he comes through with the goods, even on raspy banks on the edge of 20 metre drops with uphill windy run-ups in the cold uninviting environs of Antwerp's port. He says he'll do it. He does it, usually a few times for good measure.
What might not be expected would be to cite Phil's wrestling skills as a source of these admirable character traits. Phil is small, not freakishly small, but a lot smaller than me. I'm heavy, not lard-ass heavy, but a lot heavier than Phil. So when our skate missions were persistently curtailed by the sweet November rain, our combined cabin fever and boredom got the best of us. Which resulted in lots of wrestling.
Now when someone of Phil's stature decides to get me in a headlock and initiate a bout of living room wrestling I usually favor my chances - but that was my first mistake - I judged him by his size and ended up on the receiving end of some elaborate MMA choke holds. The little fugger wouldn't let up until I tapped out, which had me seeking revenge to the point where I was worried about sabotaging the filming mission by injuring the person I was supposed to be filming - so I decided to go soft on him when I had the upper hand (I sat on him a few times). But next time we meet and I'm not so compromised by my professional duties... well, he'll probably still win.