The origins of jousting may be quintessentially medieval English and European, but today Australian knights lead the world in international competitive jousting. Phil Leitch, a former special forces soldier and now Jousting Master at Kryal Castle, grew up riding horses and dreaming about knights and all things Robin Hood in Tasmania. Phil is recognised as one of the leading jousters in the world and Australia’s only full-time professional in the sport, winning several competitions internationally including the prestigious Tournoi de Sainte Suzanne in France.

This is no job for the faint-hearted. The armour is real, the horses are strong and the lances are solid wood, which hurt when they hit. The armour alone weighs 32kgs and is hard to pick up when in a suitcase, but as Phil says, “when you’re encased in it, the weight is more evenly distributed, so it doesn’t feel as heavy”. Asked if he finds it scary, Phil said, “No more so than formula racing or other extreme sports, you train for it and there are safety measures in place that make it safe.”

Jousting has taken Phil around the world to compete and his success on the international stage is testament to his abilities and as the sport is growing, so too is the quality of the competitors. There are only a small number of professional jousters around the world and Phil trains the knights of tomorrow at Kryal Castle and would love to recruit and train more people in Australia. His sixteen-year-old daughter Mieka is currently training to be a jouster and Phil’s wife Lisa is also involved as well as caring for the horses. Phil says his horse Valiant “loves jousting as much as I do, otherwise he wouldn’t do it.”

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