Knightly exercise makes jousters fit for a tilt at modern-day sports stars
Tests of Roy Murray’s cardiovascular fitness put him in the same category as an elite male tennis player.
Modern-day jousters are as fit and strong as professional footballers, tennis players and Formula 1 drivers combined, research suggests.
English Heritage jouster Roy Murray, 33, was shown to have body fat of 7.7%, roughly half that of an average man and leaner than most professional footballers, whose fat ranges from 8%–10%, research at the University of Bath found.
Mr Murray, currently training for a summer season of jousting tournaments, also recorded five bench presses of 148lb (67kg) at the Physio and Sports Science Centre in Bath, a score similar to some racing drivers.
Tests of his cardiovascular fitness put him in the same category as an elite male tennis player.
The results were described as “very impressive” by applied sports scientist Jonathan Robinson, who tested Mr Murray.
“Jousting requires physical prowess on a par with professional footballers, tennis players and Formula One drivers combined.
“What is particularly remarkable is the high standards of fitness demonstrated across a wide range of areas,” he said.
Jousting is one of the oldest equestrian sports in the world, believed to have begun with the emergence of knights as warriors in the 10th century.
Although popular throughout the Middle Ages, the sport suffered a decline in popularity after Henry II of France was fatally wounded in 1559.
During a tournament, a piece of splintered lance entered the French king’s eye, and he died of septicaemia 10 days later.
Romanticised notions of chivalry prompted the sport’s revival in the 19th century, and contemporary competitions still involve wearing traditional armour, weighing 99lb (45kg).
Riders attempt to hit each other’s shields with 10ft (3m) lances, and points are awarded, depending where contact is made.
Dominic Sewell, from English Heritage, who commissioned the study, said: “Historically, boys would have been trained from a very early age, working hard physically all day, every day, to acquire the strength, fitness and skill required.
“While modern lifestyles are very different, to joust properly in the 21st century requires the same dedication.”
English Heritage is hosting jousts at its castles around the country this summer as part of its medieval knights season.