The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to report that super fan David Franklin has passed away following a long illness.
As reported a few weeks ago Davids recovery had suffered a setback and unfortunately he passed away on Monday 6th July.
David was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend who after a 2 year battle with cancer was cruelly taken from them.
Our thoughts are with Davids family and friends at this very sad time and may he now RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion sent a huge thank you to the NHS as they celebrated their 72nd birthday on Sunday 5th July.
Never has the NHS been more needed than they have been during the last 4 months and a huge debt of gratitude is owed to all those who have worked tirelessly alongside all the other keyworkers during this terrible pandemic.
The wrestling world pay tribute to you all for what you have done and continue to do, you deserve all the praise you receive and much more.
Our respect goes to you all.
(Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy visiting a hospital)
(Some of the wrestlers who attended the 2019 Reunion at The Bridges)
Sunday 5th July saw the home of the Reunion for the last 24 years, The Bridges, open their doors for the first time in over 3 months.
The opening coincides with what would have been the legendary Wayne Bridges birthday and it is so sad that he is no longer there to welcome everyone, he is deeply missed by us all.
During its shutdown The Bridges has undergone a makeover being completely re-decorated both inside and out and he garden area has also been spruced up.
Of course due to the current situation PPE and social distancing measures have been put in place including a one way system to enter and leave the premises.
Many of the locals will be raising a glass or two to Bill today as the doors re-open and we, all being well, look forward to welcoming many of you on the 9th August when we will do the same.
(The Bridges has re-opened its doors after 3 months)
We are deeply saddened to receive word from our friends at the Wrestlers Reunion Scotland that their event scheduled for the 13th September has been cancelled due to the Covid19 pandemic. A full statement issued by WRS is as follows:-
A VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WRESTLERS RE-UNION SCOTLAND!!!
Following a long and a considered meeting this afternoon on a Video Call. It has been decided that due to the new outbreaks of the Virus in different parts of the UK and the coflicting opinions regards policy, being advocated by both the Edinburgh and the Westminster Governments . That we have been left with no choice, but to very, very reluctantly cancel this years 2020 Ayr Re-Union.
No one will be any more disappointed than those who had to make this difficult decision and we hope all our Members and Patrons will understand it was not taken lightly!!!
We will however be holding a Virtual On-Line Scottish Re-Union on Sunday 13th September. Details to follow!!!
We look forward to welcoming everyone again to Scotland for Wrestlers Re-Union Scotlands Event in 2021. And we would to take this opportunity to wish all our Brothers and Sisters in the British Reunion Kent all the very best for their 2020 Reunion on the Second Sunday in August.
We know that the committee of the WRS have not made this decision lightly and have tried everything possible to try and ensure their Reunion went ahead but sadly it was not to be. We wish them all the very best for their event which they will now hold in 2021.
The countdown starts now, yes Ladies and Gentlemen we are delighted to finally be able to confirm that the 29th Annual British Wrestlers Reunion will take place, as planned, on Sunday 9th August 2020 from 11.00 hours.
After consultation with Sarah Bridges, the home of the Reunion, The Bridges, will re-open for business on the 5th July and therefore will be in a position to host this years Reunion on the 9th August. All Social distancing and PPE measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of everyone who will be attending this years event. In addition we are also opening up the area normally reserved for wrestlers only to give us additional space so that we can comply with Government guidelines.
We have tried to keep the Reunion as normal as possible this year but this has been a year like no other what with Covid19 and of course the passing of the great Wayne Bridges.
This year the Reunion, as per the last two, will see Lee Bamber return as compere. The obituaries will be led by 'Bulldog' Colin Joynson followed by the customary 10 bell count in which we will remember all those that have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky during the last twelve months. The legendary Frank Rimer will lead the tributes to Wayne Bridges and these will be followed by a number of Wayne/Bills former colleagues paying their own tributes to him. Whilst this will be a very emotional time for us all we are sure there will be a few funny stories along the way. Roy Smith will be returning to the Reunion after a two year absence and will be in charge of the merchandise stall where you can get your wrestling goodies as well as your raffle tickets. Food and drink will be available and there will be a barbecue throughout the day. Scott Elvis will be in the building, back by popular demand (although due to restrictions he will not be singing live and will be pre-recorded tracks) and as per a request by Sarah Bridges we are hopeful of having a piper to open proceedings as this was something that Bill thoroughly enjoyed.
We hope that many of you will join us on Sunday 9th August for a day of memories. This is the wrestling worlds chance to say farewell to the legend that was Wayne Bridges, a man who gave 25 years of his life to the Reunion, let us show him our thanks by giving him the sort of day he would have been proud of.
More news will be reported as and when available so keep checking the website for up to the minute news. In the meantime we thank you for your support, keep healthy, stay safe and we will see many of you in a few short weeks.
A Man of All Talents is the remarkable story of rugby and wrestling legend Douglas 'Duggy' Clark.
Born in 1891 in the sleepy Cumbrian village of Maryport, at 14 he left school to work for his father's coal merchant business. Duggy grew into an exceptionally strong but quiet and reserved young man. His two great passions were rugby and Cumberland and Westmorland-style wrestling, and he excelled at both.
By 24 he was already a rugby league great and a key member of Huddersfield's 'Team of All Talents', winning every honour the sport could offer. He represented Britain in the infamous 1914 'Rorke's Drift' tour of Australia before being called up to serve in the Great War. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, but his war injuries were so severe he was discharged with a 20% disability certificate.
Doctors gave Duggy an ultimatum: either he could stay home and live a long but sedate and ordinary life or risk his health by returning to sport.
He chose the latter and went on to achieve more extraordinary and pioneering feats.
The book is available for pre order via amazon on the following link:-
We wish the author, Steven Bell, all the very best with this book and hope it is a great success for him.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our warmest of wishes to Basil 'Romany' Riley who returned home on Friday 26th June after a lengthy stay in hospital.
Basil underwent a serious operation and then contracted Covid19.
Basils home has now been adapted with a special bed/hoists etc to assist him with his recovery and is in good spirits considering what he has endured over the last few months.
We hope that Basils health improves over the coming weeks and months and wish him well.
(Basil & Steve Veidor at The Bridges)
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to announce that former referee, Master of Ceremonies and historian Ray Plunkett passed away peacefully in hospital on Friday 26th June with his partner Wendy at his bedside.
As we reported recently Ray had been admitted to hospital and sadly he was not able to overcome his illness.
Ray was a great contriibutor to our website and also our friends over at Wrestling Heritage as well as having one of the greatest collection of wrestling memorabilia and results in the UK. His passing will be a great loss to us all.
Ray has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and will be remembered at this years Reunion.
Our condolences go to Rays family and friends at this very sad time.
Tributes have poured in since Rays passing was announced, a selection of which are shown below:-
(Ray receives a Services to Wrestling Award at the 2008 Reunion)
With the news announced on the 23rd June that public houses can re-open on the 4th July and social distancing measures are to be reduced in England the British Wrestlers Reunion are now confident that our event will take place as planned on the 9th August.
Over the coming days we will look at the best ways to ensure that anyone attending the Reunion will be kept safe and these will be announced shortly.
We will also be making some changes to the Reunion format FOR THIS YEAR ONLY so that nobody is confined to any one area for a lengthy period.
As previously announced this years Reunion will be held in tribute to Wayne Bridges and whilst we are expecting a lower turnout than usual due to Covid19 we hope many will still come to pay their respects.
Further information will be announced in the coming days.
Thank you for your support and stay safe.
The British Wrestlers Reunion remember a young grappler who sadly went to the Dressing Room in the Sky way before his time when Adrian 'Lionheart' McCallum passed away a year ago on the 19th June 2019.
The UK's Modern Wrestling Style lost a "Champion" a Real Trooper and a Showman who had a great career ahead of him.
Our friends at the Wrestlers Reunion Scotland lost a great supporter and in 2019 they honoured him and will continue to do so therefore keeping his memory alive.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his Mother and Father and the rest of his family on the anniversary of his passing and may Adrian be troubled no more and RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to legendary referee Mal Mason who celebrates his 80th birthday on Tuesday 16th June.
Mal who has now been in the wrestling industry for an astonishing 50 years held the very first Reunion in his back garden before it moved to Joe Cornelius' pub a year later is still very much involved in the wrestling business today passing on his wealth of knowledge to the next generation of wrestling star.
We hope that Mal enjoys his celebrations with many more years ahead of him.
(Wayne Bridges, Mal Mason & Tony White at the Reunion)
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive word that 'Diamond' Jim Brody passed away after suffering from a stroke on the 9th June.
Away from wrestling Jim used to run a security company with Tony 'Banger' Walsh and was also instrumental in the training of Nick Aldis and Jimmy Starr when he introduced them to Dropkixx Wrestling Academy
Jim will be sadly missed by all who knew him and he has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky.
We send our condolences to Jims family and friends at this sad time and may he now RIP.
Wayne Bridges last journey as he leaves The Bridges, the home of the British Wrestlers Reunion for 25 years, for the final time.
Bill may have gone but he has left a legacy that will never be forgotten and he will live on in our hearts and memories for years to come.
RIP Bill (video courtesy of Tayler Murphy)
(Wayne & Sarah Bridges in happier times at The Bridges)
On behalf of Sarah Bridges and the British Wrestlers Reunion we would like to thank you all for your heartfelt tributes that you paid to Bill on the day of his funeral.
We know that many of you watched the service live online and if you missed it it will remain available on the link previously provided.
Hopefully, even though you were unable to be in there in person, you felt part of Bills final send off.
A memorial to Bill will be held in the village hall in due course and at this years Reunion will also pay our tribute to him.
All of your tributes have been a great comfort to the family and even though Bill is no longer with us we will never forget what a remarkable man he was.
The British Wrestlers Reunion remembers the 11th June 1980, 40 years ago as Joint Promotions staged the second of their three Wembley Arena shows.
Topping the bill on the first was Big Daddy v Mighty John Quinn. The third Daddy versus Giant Haystacks and in the 1980 headliner Daddy teamed up with Wayne Bridges to take on John Quinn and Yasu Fuji.
Full results of the show were:-
Mick McManus defeats Vic Faulkner
Jon Cortez defeats Mick McMichael
Gil Singh vs. Ray Steele - No Contest
Big Daddy & Wayne Bridges defeat John Quinn & Yasu Fuji Marty Jones defeats Mark Rocco
British Welterweight Title: Alan Dennison defeats Jim Breaks (c) - TITLE CHANGE !!!
Catweazle defeats Tally Ho Kaye
Officials for this Wembley show were John Harris as MC and referees Brian Crabtree, Max Ward and Dave Reece.
Although this show did not have the hype of the one the previous year it was still British wrestling at its best and the likes of these extravaganzas have not been seen by any UK promoter since.
Great memories of a great night of professional wrestling.
Following on from our earlier post donations can now be made if you so wish in memory of Wayne Bridges at the link shown below or you can send donations to Woollard & Kent Funeral Services, 128 Tanerterton Road, Whitstable, CT5 2AN. All donations will go to The British Heart Foundation.
The funeral will now be broadcast live and the link for this is as follows:-
Log on to www.obitus.com then in the top right hand corner enter as follows:-
Username: Gumo4756 then enter Password: 134032 then click log in.
The service screen will come on and the chapel will show 5 minutes before the start of the service.
Tips for watching the webcast:
· If you are unfamiliar with using an internet service of this type, consider whether they could ask for assistance from a friend or family member
· Check the internet connection to your device is stable and good quality –the best results tend to be from a wired network
· Try to avoid watching webcasts on mobile data connections and use Wi-Fi if at all possible
· Ensure that any updates or background tasks on the device have been cleared or completed – it is possible that these may interfere with the connection.
· If sharing a Wi-Fi connection with other devices, it’s sensible to ask other users not to use the internet during the webcast, - this may interfere or weaken with the connection
· If the webcast view is static or does not start on time, try to refresh the browser
Donation link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wkfs-waynebridges
WAYNE BRIDGES FUNERAL UPDATE.
The British Wrestlers Reunion have been asked to advise everyone as to the changes relating to Wayne Bridges funeral.
As previously advised it was the intention for Wayne to remain at the undertakers until such time as Government restrictions were eased and mourners were allowed at funerals.
Unfortunately, it would appear that there are no immediate plans for increased mourners to be allowed and therefore Waynes funeral will now take place on Friday 12th June at 14.00 hours.
As a result of this it will mean that this will be a family service with only Sarah and close relatives in attendance. However, there is a possibility that the funeral will be broadcast live on the internet (as many are these days due to Covid19) and if this is the case we will provide details of this in due course.
We know that many will be saddened to not be able to pay their final respects to Wayne as they would have wished but it is still the intention to hold this years Reunion in tribute to him and the British Wrestlers Reunion will be making a statement on the date and the changes to this years event in due course.
We hope you all remain healthy and stay safe at these difficult of times.
On the 15th June 1930 Hammersmith born Wrestler Chick' Cocky' Knight saved 2 people from drowning in the Thames by jumping in off Hammersmith Bridge to save them one at a time. Chicks nephew is petitioning to get Chick a plaque on Hammersmith Bridge in recognition of his heroic feat, which after 90 years is long overdue.
Chick was a triple lifesaver during his lifetime, having saved a fellow soldiers life in Gibraltar in 1924, also from drowning. He is one of the only sportsmen to have this to their name.
Chick was one of the first British Wrestler's on BBC TV in 1938, and was also a boxer, soldier, lifeguard, film star and bouncer/doorman.
Born in Hammersmith in 1903, he fought all over the world from 1932-58, and famously fought boxer Billy Wells at Earls Court, London in 1938.
We would be grateful if you can please help Chick be recognised by signing the Petition by clicking on the following link.
Many thanks and let the wrestling world do their bit to get Chck the plaque he rightly deserves.
At a time when Reunion season is normally well underway we are still awaiting the first Reunion of 2020 to take place as others have been postponed due to the Coronavirus. With the Blackpool Reunion now not taking place until 2021 our own Reunion is scheduled to take place on Sunday 9th August. We have received confirmation from Scotland and Essex that their Reunions will take place as follows:-
British Wrestlers Reunion Organiser Ken Sowden advises:-
The British Wrestlers Reunion is still scheduled to take place on Sunday 9th August although it looks highly likely that the date may be changed in the coming weeks as I cannot see restrictions being lifted by then so we will be looking at mid/end October if that is the case. Luckily because we have The Bridges we do not need to book the venue. It has also been decided that we will scale back on what we do at the Reunion for this year only. I am expecting a decrease in those attending as I do not think people will want to travel across the country but whatever happens we will put the best Reunion on we can in the circumstances and we hope many will still come and join us on the day. The Reunion of course will still be held in memory of Wayne Bridges and a number of tributes to him will be paid on the day.
Scottish Wrestlers Reunion Organiser Dale Storm advises:-
The Latest Update on "Wrestlers Re-Union Scotland" and our 2020 Annual Event in Ayr on the Afternoon of Sunday 13th September!!! The telephone is ringing off the hook with enquiries regards this get-together. And yes, just like the (British Wrestlers Reunion in Kent on the second Sunday in August this year) we too, will be going ahead with our Big Day!!! Naturally we will still have to observe any and all restrictions that government may still have in place at that time. But we the members who make up both Committees are confident, with the help of the members attending, we will have another two (2) successful events! Hotels are still not quite up to speed in Scotland and are still currently closed, so contact with them is proving a little difficult. So until such times as I can confirm the booking, we are still in the dark, as to designation accommodation!!! When this becomes at lot clearer you our patrons out there will be the first to be kept fully informed. In the meantime please stay safe, and please, please stay healthy.
Essex Wrestlers Reunion Organiser Neil Evans advises:-
Hi Guys and Gals, while we are all staying in, self isolating trying to avoid the dreaded Coronavirus, I thought it’s time to announce the date of the 2020 Essex Wrestlers Reunion for something for us all to look forward to. This year it will be on SUNDAY 4TH OCTOBER !! I. Really looking forward to seeing as many of you that come along. It will be at the same venue as last year commencing at noon. (see poster) Please look for any memorabilia that you have and would like to bring along and share with us, on the day.
Obviously all Reunions are subject to Government restrictions regarding social distancing and so dates may change as time goes on but we will let you know of any changes if/when they occur. In the meantime thank you all for your support and we look forward to seeing you at a Reunion at some point this year.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive word that Cyril Dummer aka Cocky Watson and Rough House Watson passed away aged 90 years of age on Sunday 17th May following complications after suffering a stroke.
Cyril was a Light heavyweight and trained under Bruno Elrington at his gym in Portsmouth and worked for Joint Promotions in the mid 1950s before moving across to the independents during the 1960s
Our condolences go to Cyrils family and friends at this very sad time and he has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky.
May Cyril now Rest in Peace.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are delighted to report that our friend Mick Sullivan is now back at home after spending the last few days in hospital after suffering from chest pains.
As many of you know Mick has recently been suffering ill health but the doctors are now very happy with his progress and we are pleased that he is now back at home where he will continue to recover and hopefully be back to good health sooner rather than later.
All the best to you Mick and we look forward to seeing you back at the Reunion in the foreseeable future.
(Mick Sullivan at the 2019 Reunion with Ken Sowden)
**** STATEMENT FROM THE BRITISH WRESTLERS REUNION ****
It has been brought to our attention over the last few days that there have been some rumours and speculation on social media and throughout those involved in the wrestling industry regarding the future of the British Wrestlers Reunion.
Two days ago we received an email which opening line was 'I am so sorry to read that the Reunion has come to an end' and over the following hours we had a handful of messages stating the same.
It was only natural that following the death of Reunion host Wayne Bridges there would be those who question our Reunions future. However, comments such as 'all Reunions are finished', 'all Reunions have the same format and nobody does anything different' or 'its just the same people at the same Reunions year after year telling the same stories.'are just insulting to all those who put in so much hard work to bring you their respective Reunions. Whilst only made by a very small minority, these comments are read by many others. These posts are just not helpful to any of us and if you read any comments made after a Reunion whether it be in Kent, Leeds, Blackpool or Ayr all you will see is positive comments from those actually in attendance all stating what a great day they continue to be.
The British Wrestlers Reunion is now in its 29th year and we are fully aware that nothing lasts forever and that it will come to an end. However, that time is not now or for the foreseeable future. We have been told that our venue at The Bridges will remain our home for as long as we want as per the wish of Wayne Bridges and those people behind the organisation of our Reunion are 100% committed to bringing you the Reunion for many more years to come. We are mindful of the fact that as the years go by the number of those attending our Reunion will decrease due to those not wishing to travel the distance or ill health and then of course we sadly lose some of the ring stars as the years go by. Despite this, we, alongside our fellow Reunions, continue to see a good number of attendees and we together with Blackpool, Ayr (and we hope we can speak on behalf of Leeds) have no intention of ringing the final bell for a few years to come.
We hope that the above statement clarifies the position of the Reunion, we are here and here to stay. We know that there will still be rumours that our Reunion is ending as there has been for a number of years but at least you will now know that that is what they are....unfounded rumours.
We thank everyone who continues to support us and the Reunion movement around the UK, we hope you will do so for many more years to come. Please continue to keep healthy and stay safe.
BRITISH WRESTLERS REUNION
23RD MAY 2020.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to former MC, referee, wrestling historian and friend to us all Ray Plunkett who is currently in hospital.
We are sure everyone will want to send their very best wishes to Ray and we will forward these on to his partner Wendy together with those sent to our good friends over at Wrestling Heritage who advised us of Rays current situation.
Ray has been admitted to hospital in Norwich with serious health issues but these are not connected to the Coronavirus.
Ray was a regular attendee at the Reunion until recent years and also was invaluable with information/results etc which he was only happy to supply to us whenever was needed.
We wish Ray a speedy recovery and our thoughts and prayers are with him, and his partner Wendy, at this time.
(Ray and Al Marquette at the Reunion)
Wayne Bridges was the three time Heavyweight Champion of the World and for 25 years the host of the Reunion but in March he lost his final battle when he sadly passed away.
The British Wrestlers Reunion can now announce that the Wayne Bridges Tribute Show will be held to honour the life and career of the former Champion. The event will be held early 2021 and the exact date and venue will be announced in due course as at this time we are unable to book due to the current pandemic. However, the show will be held in the South of England and we hope that many will attend.
We are still in the early planning stages of the event but we can confirm that it will be a traditional wrestling show with all bouts being wrestled under Lord Mountevans Rules. There will be rounds, public warnings (if necessary) and seconds and those participating will wrestle in the style many of us were familiar with during wrestlings heyday in the UK.
The show will consist of a mini tournament featuring some of todays top stars, the winner of which will receive the Wayne Bridges Memorial Cup and this will be presented by Sarah Bridges. This cup will then be wrestled for on a yearly basis. In addition to the tournament you will see a legends bout (either solo or tag team) and if that was not enough action the Reunion will also be inviting many of the great wrestlers from the glory days to step into the ring for a Parade of Legends.
The Reunion are hopeful that many wrestlers and fans will support this show as a lasting tribute to Wayne Bridges who was without doubt one of the all time greats.
Throughout the coming months we will announce further details in relation to this show together with those who will be attending. However, if any wrestler/official who was involved in the wrestling industry during its heyday would like to be involved in this show in some capacity then please message us privately via our facebook page or by email email@example.com and we can give you more details.
This will be a lasting tribute to honour Wayne Bridges so lets make sure that we give him the best show we possibly can.
(Frank Rimer is set to return to the ring as MC for the Wayne Bridges Tribute Show)
Bert Assirati was a name feared by many in the wrestling world. His professional wrestling record speaks for itself and is envied by many. Now Dave Gentle re-visits the mans life and career:-
THE BERT ASSIRATI FILES
BY DAVID GENTLE© davidgentle.com/HOPC 2020
In a world of make believe, legends, myths and dreams Bert Assirati, was every wrestler’s night mare. Almost ignoring the sacred rules of “kayfabe”, when Bert put on a submission hold and his victim tapped out, Bert was in the habit of not releasing his opponent until he had added a few extra squeezes to impress his point. Few wrestlers ever demanded a rematch and indeed many then turning up at an event and discovering they were scheduled to be matched with the beast from Islington, developed a sudden mysterious illness or injury playing up, allowing them an early ride home to escape the torturous pain likely to have been inflicted upon them.
For Bert unless the incentive was there, there was rarely a chance he would co operate with a “working match” to him most bouts were a “shoot out” and for us oldies lucky enough to have seen him (I watched him in Southampton late 40s, early 50s at the Dell, Town Hall and The Royal Pier. Via Dale Martin and Athol Oakeley promotions) it was a privilege to watch this amazing block of muscle, resembling the elusive “Brick out- house” Lucky indeed as he was soon to take tour of pastures new, having earlier toured the USA, he then left us for the far east, where he continued to spread his awesome reputation and add a few more coins to the coiffures, guarded by this wife Marjorie
Of Italian descent and the son of garage proprietor Daniel Assiriti, Bartolemeo, Busandri, “Bert” Assirati was born in Richmond Avenue, Islington, London, on the 9th July 1908 ( IB 583 Somerset House records.) He excelled at sports especially gymnastics and cycling. When just 16 with his father, he attended a physical show to witness the famous physical culture trainer, Alan Mead demonstrating with a chest expander and Mead pulled a set of strands with what he said was a world record. Bert, jumped stage and made fifteen reps with the same poundage, impressing Mead, who later gave him his first set of weights. He developed his weight lifting prowess at the Clarance Physical Culture Club in Islington. Encouraged by his cousin Joe a great all-round lifter in his own right, and his father. Already an all-round athlete, cyclist, swimmer, gymnast, he began training with weights from his early teens. Despite his physical unathletic body type, after leaving school, he became a part (being the bearer) of an acrobatic duo, named Mello and Nello, Bert being Nello, (does anyone know who Mello was?) performing advanced acrobatic stunts to a wide audience. Touring UK and most of Europe. This early acrobatic experience enhanced his wrestling career and later, he regularly performed a standing back flip after winning a match. Like the later herculean hand balancer, Reub Martin, Bert could make a pull over at arm’s length with 200lbs, at his time setting a British record in 1938. Reub Martin, used the similar power to pull over his hand balancing partner into a balance as part of their regular act. Another feat of unusual power for a man of his endomorph body type was his ability to perform a one hand stand, and demonstrate the tough balancing act of the Iron Cross.
Historian Mike Hallinan tells us a rare known fact that during 1932, Whilst working for Apollo, the strongman William Bankier, he for just the one time, wrestled under the name of John Swan at the Edinburgh Carnival. During the same year he embarked on the Cunard liner Berengaria to New York for an American tour and despite tales to the contrary although winning many bouts, did also suffer defeats, see later.
A common myth is during his tour of the States, he had 65 bouts winning all but two, later also winning those on a rematch, whereas better research suggests he actually had about 120 matches, many of which were working matches. Bert, began his weight lifting, acrobatics and wrestling at the Clarence Physical Culture Club in Islington, encouraged by his cousin Joe and father. Noting he had great potential as a wrestler and with training from the likes of George Mc Kenzie and Peter Gotz at the Ashdown Wrestling club and Wigan Wrestling schools, he followed the advice of William Bankier, The Scottish Apollo and he first turned to pro wrestling at the age of just 20years, in October 1928 beating (90 White Lion Street, Islington), Ashdown Club member Robert Cook, trained at period by top mat man (Sir) Atholl Oakeley who taught him most of the tricks of the trade. ( see Atholl’s book “Blue Blood on the Mat”) All-in Wrestling had just been introduced in the UK.(December 1930) Along -side his wrestling tuition, he continued to train with weights to become one of wrestling’s strongest men as the following listing will demonstrate. Remember also that with tougher competition many of these lifts would not have been his ultimate best or potential, this rule applies to all old timers’ feats when once they exceeded the worlds best by a huge margin, without competition, why exert yourself and attempt more?
His measurements are listed often with variations as follows. Height 5ft, 6 ins, bodyweight 17 stone or 110kgs.Getting even heavier as time went on. No one appears to have measured his width, which to be honest looked the same as his height. Perhaps they ran out of tape. He soon became infamous for his apparent delight in inflicting pain, so few requested a rematch. Mostly performed around the year 1938, some examples of Bert’s power include.
FEATS OF STRENGTH AND AGILITY
Could squat with 800lbs, then an unofficial World record.
Could squat with one leg with a 200lb barbell on his shoulder (as could the premier Mr Universe, John C Grimek) He was also able to lift off the ground his father’s taxi from the rear.
This was the period he did his 200lbs pull over at arm’s length with a 200lbs barbell setting a British record, his bodyweight was 240lbs. Decades later as a skinny 140lbs lifter I made a Southern counties record in same lift with just 120lbs, so can appreciate the power it must have taken.
He could squat continuously for half an hour with a 235lbs barbell. The barbell was formerly owned by the famous Eugen Sandow. Bert despite his bodyweight, could perform three one arm pull ups, and jump into a one arm hand stand.
He could do the gymnastic test of a crucifix on the rings when weighing 266lbs. Even when age 72, Bert was able to “walk” up and down the stairs on his hands via the handstand position.
He could one arm military press 160lbs with one arm in 1938. Later I recall Bill Kazmaier did similar as the World’s Strongest Man.
Still on his gymnastic skills, Bert is reputed as able to perform a back somersault while holding a 56lb block weight in each arm. Many old timers have been credited with similar with “historians” coming along and doubting the veracity of such a lift, saying “The weights must have been 35lbs” Personally due to Assirati’s power and ability, I have no doubts the quoted poundage is correct ,as 56lb blocks were in common use by many day to day tradesmen, eg, coal merchants, only Mike Hallinan (see later for credits) would know better?
Bert also was able to perform back somersaults or flip flaps, while weighing 266lbs, he often after winning a match would finish of the bout with a performance of back flips.
I am not sure if he was musical like his cousin Joe, but Bert was able to carry a normal size piano for quite a distance on his back, as he was also able to do same with a regular telegraph pole.
For a party trick, also demonstrated by the strong man Mac Batchelor in the Weider mags, Bert would place regular metal beer top caps in between his fingers of both hands, then squeeze and crush them completely. No shaking hands with him then………….
Back to the mat game, with many wrestling matches now under his belt. Writer Mark Gould wrote at one period Bert had an un-beaten record of 540 wins in a row. Bert soon achieved a reputation for his almost sadistic attitude and his inflexibility to accept the recognised “pre- determined” or working , set of matches, which meant promoters were reluctant to slot him in their schedules, also many professional wrestlers began to become reluctant to fight him aware of the dangers of the “fight” turning into a shooting match, one particular match included a genuine shooting match with one of the USAs toughest wrestlers Ray Steele with Steele coming out the winner, meeting twice more for a draw and then a win for Assirati. Others who could claim a victory over Bert, were Black Butcher Johnson, Alf Rawlings, Francis St Clair, Bill Garnon, Athol Oakeley Ernie and others, with also numerous draws and questionable matches.
Amongst the top international wrestlers, especially American who had long practiced the then “all in style” and claims were made that Assirati had challenged Lou Thesz, who most people recognised as world champion, with Thesz refusing. Later in his book Thesz tells exactly the opposite. Many were indeed working matches, although Bert, if he knew he was scheduled to lose according to the promoter’s card, would usually give up the fight in the first round not bothering to make a show just for the sake of entertainment. Demanding up to five times the usual payment for agreeing to roll over for his opponent. He was definitely a hard act to put on the cards, at one time being suspended by the Maryland Boxing Commission for fighting the referee. Throughout his career, he continued to be unwilling to co-operate with promoters.
Listing his titles is a night mare of myths and facts, he won official British World Championship in 1945 and two years later the British Empire and European version, eventually claiming the unofficial Heavyweight Champion of the World. Running out of victims and continually uncooperative with promoters, he left the UK in 1950 (after my being lucky enough to see some of his fights in Southampton at the Dell football ground under Dale Martin/Atholl Oakeley promotions) and travelled to the Far East, including India, where in 1954 he wrestled in front of huge audiences variously quoted as anything from 50.00 to 100.000, so who’s counting,? But his absence from the scene meant the British authorities stripped him of his title. Bert however soon returned and in 1952 regained his European title, with matches that included beating big names such as the French Angel, Maurice Tillet. (Tillet briefly stayed in Southampton with Judo Jimmy Noice, who co indecently gave me judo lessons) Tillet died in 1954 in the USA)
Restless as ever, Bert returned to India, first to Singapore using the cruise as a honeymoon with Marjorie who he had married in 1952 where they had a five month stay, during which beat the giant King Kong Czaka, The Angel and Kurt Zehe a huge man, finalising with a win over the 7ft 7inch German Gargantua by a submission, winning yet another bag of jewels for his wife Marjorie’s collection, again giving up his title only to recover it later via a match with Ernie Baldwin. (Source 9 part series by Charles Mascall in Dale Martin programs) For fans interest, all of Bert’s cups and trophies are at times put on show at the British Wrestlers Reunion at the Bridges public house.
By now Joint Promotions became the governing body, who after problems with Bert’s injuries awarded top spot to ex guardsman Shirley Crabtree, later as he gained massive bodyweight, named “Big Daddy”. Bert Assirati’s last fight was with Joe Cornelius in Brighton. His last promoter was his wife Marjorie with “Asta promotions” which ran from 1958 to 1960.
With the “All in” wrestling rules now in place in 1930 Bert began building up his record, defeating many big names of the era, including Bill Garnon, and Atholl Oakeley himself amongst others.
A unique fact disclosed by the ultimate Assirati historian Mike Hallinan was that whilst working for Apollo, in 1932, he wrestled in the Edinburgh Carnival under the name of John Swan and remained un-defeated.
It was during this year, 1932, that Bert first set sail for America on the Cunard liner Berengaria, under the ship’s passenger logs, he is listed as occupation, Wrestler. It is here the myths begin, but the truth, again acknowledging Mike Hallinan’s research, is that contrary to the popular legend, Bert did not win every match, with a study of the reference books recording many “defeats” to mid card opponents. His manager Gardini however was impressed, and Bert in one account, is credited with winning his first 35 matches, some causing near riots we are told when his Italian fans, did not agree with the current referee’s decisions. In the short time he was in the States, over seven months, One account says, he took on sixty-five matches, winning most and those he “lost” he soon regained.
The two he had to regain were over the tough Ray Steele and Hans Steinke. This is the period the infamous “Boston Crab” began to unfold as Bert’s signature hold. Bert certainly put genuine fear into his opponents, excelling at locks and submission holds, all shooter moves.
The list of top men Bert did overcome in USA, included top names like Ernie Dusex, Joe Stetcher of the scissors hold fame, Wladlek Zbyszko, Baron Leone, a draw with Frank Sexton and more and many others of their ilk, running out of his USA time he returned to the UK visiting Hackenschmidt with his father Daniel. Finally recognised as the champion of Southern UK after beating George Gregory.
He beat the French Angel at Tottenham Hotspurs football ground in 1946 before a huge crowd with various estimates of the attendance 12.000 being the average figure quoted. It is estimated he had anything from 6 to 7000 bouts including the massive 340lbs King Kong Czaya in Mala. After returning from his three year of the Far East, Bert came home to a huge tax bill, and no longer working with the top Joint Promotions ad to work for the independents He even formed his own promotions with Jack Taylor forming ASTA( ran by Marjorie from 1958 to 1960 putting on shows all over the UK with many tough matches. It appears he had not lost his blood lust as famous wrestler Prince Kumali aka Gordon Petri tells of his match with Bert, in which he had submitted, for Bert to continue to fail to unlock a hurtful head lock, cause Kumali serious injury lasting over a year such was its intensity. By now in 1960The British Wrestling Federation withdrew their recognition of Assiriti’s title claim, with Bert finally giving his final appearance in 1963. Retiring from the mat game, Bert took up work as a bouncer in Epsom Surrey, during the era of the “Swinging sixties” I just wonder how Bert actually got through the door himself. In late life, he eventually suffered eye problems leading to near blindness as well as various injuries caused by his life time of tough fighting on the mat. He was then living at Wooding Dean He died of bladder cancer on 31st of August 1990 , cremated at Downs Crematorium, and his ashes are scattered at the grounds of The Bridges Pub” in Kent, later followed by those of his wife Marjorie where fans can make an annual pilgrimage to the British Wrestlers Reunion held every August.
A few miscellaneous facts or myths about Bert are.
1.Bert started Karl Gotch’s career in USA
2.All Capone infamous gangster asked Bert to be his bodyguard Bert wisely refused.
3.On one occasion, Bert met the famous Ed Strangler Lewis in a gym. Ed put on his famous headlock and squeezed hard Bert just put his hands behind Ed’s thighs, supplexed him over backwords leaving Lewis concussed on the mat.
4. He once wrestled at the world most famous venue, Madison Square Gardens.
SINCERE THANKS TO SOURCES.
I would like to acknowledge thanks primarily to Mike Hallinan for his exhaustive study of Bert. It is said a man has to turn over a library to write a book. Every book or article I studied in my quest to discover the truth about this legendary wrestler, I find has been already studied by Mike. Many other writers often simply continue with the old myths, not Mike. The many books I have poured over include Barnam’s of Bounce, From Milo to Londos, The Pictorial History of Wrestling and literally dozens of articles from various wrestling magazines. Including those of Fred Unwin, who incidentally coached Mick Mc Manus, Wrestling Heritage, John Shelvey, The British Wrestlers Reunion, and Frank Rimer, I also had many personal conversations with his cousin Joe Assirati, Chas Smith, and former Hall of Fame, pro wrestler Bob Kirkwood. The number of people, of those I owe a dept to is too long to list, so I offer a general thank you to all who contributed to my attempt to find something of Bert Assirati’s life.
With grateful acknowledgments to my many sources,
© David Gentle for davidgentle.com/HOPC 2020.
Over the last few months we have brought you news relating to a book being written about Londons lovable Villain, Cocky Chick Knight and as the final few chapters are completed and it goes to print we continue to receive updates from the author, Chicks nephew Andy Scott.
Andy advises us that he has recently discussed the book with various media outlets which include newspaper and magazine articles as well as podcasts. Andy has also appeared on a number of other shows and has done extended interviews on East London Radio, ITV London news, Talk Radio Europe. The book has also been mentioned in articles in the Best of British May issue p.9, and is in the forthcoming issue of the Royal Life Saving Society magazine. There was also an article in the Daily Mail on Saturday 9th May as shown below.
One of the main interviews Andy has done was for GHQ Magazine and you can read the article right here. https://ghqmagazine.com/londons-loveable-villain-chick-cocky-knight/
We can now confirm that Andy has agreed to attend this years Reunion where Chick will be posthumously inducted into the British Wrestlers Hall of Fame, an honour which is well deserved and we are delighted that Andy will be in attendance to accept the award. We are also hopeful that the book itself will also be published by this time and if so copies will be available to purchase at the Reunion and Andy will be happy to sign them for you.
We thank Andy for keeping us updated and wll bring you all further news as and when it is received.
Friday 8th May 2020 is the 75th anniversary of V E Day and is being celebrated throughout the country.
We here at the British Wrestlers Reunion thank all those fought for us during the war and remember those that sadly gave their lives so that future generations could live theirs.
Some of the great grapplers who wrestled throughout the glory years of British wrestling were themselves in the Second World War and we are thankful that they came back unharmed although cannot imagine some of the scenes they must have encountered.
Each and every one who served is a hero and respect to you all.
The British Wrestlers Reunion were delighted to hear from Joel de Fremery the international French wrestling star on Sunday 3rd May.
Joel, who during his illustrious career made a number of visits to the UK, was presented with one of the Reunions prestigious awards back in 2009 by Bob Kirkwood (as seen here). Joel fondly recalls his time in the UK stating:
'I have a lot of memories my 1st coming in 1965. I was 21 now 76. I met all the great stars of that time : Mick Jackie Pallo Steve Logan and had a tv with Jon Cortez. I would like to come back at that time. In 1982 I met Mark Rocco 4 the title. Best regards Joël'
We are pleased that Joel is well and we wish him all the best and thank him for contacting us.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are delighted to support this cause, we hope that many of you will purchase one of these shirts and show everyone that the wrestling world are doing their bit to support the NHS at these difficult times.
Rumble Promotions are aiming to raise funds for the NHS with the launch of the WRESTLING'S GOT A HOLD ON ME T Shirt at a bargain price of just £10.00 of which 20% will be donated to NHS Charities.
Rumble Promotions have told us that many UK Promoters are joining them in helping to publicise this great opportunity where we can come together in support of the NHS.
You can buy these limited edition shirts at Limited edition shirts at: https://rumblewrestling.bigcartel.com
(Lee and Sue are celebrating 20 years of wedded bliss)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our warmest of congratulations to the UKs number one Ring Announcer Lee Bamber and his wife Sue who celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary on Wednesday 29th April.
Such is Lees love of wrestling that he even had wrestling at his wedding reception, how many can say they have done that???
(Lee gets a pie in the face courtesy of Mal Sanders and Steve Grey at his wedding reception in 2000)
Lee has also over the last few years been the compere at our Reunion and we thank him for doing a tremendous job for us, long may he continue with it.
We hope that Lee and Sue have a lovely day and have many more happy years together.
(Lee Bamber at the 2019 Reunion)
Captain Tom Moore has been honoured with his own personalised WWE championship belt to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Captain Moore has raised more than £29 million for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden at his home despite initially setting himself a target of just £1,000.
Tom will celebrate his 100th birthday on the 30th April and the Worlds largest wrestling organisation, World Wrestling Entertainment, have now made him his very own championship belt to commemorate his incredible achievement.
The special gift was announced by reigning WWE champion and the UKs very own Drew McIntyre who hailed Captain Moore's "extraordinary" fundraising effort. The belt features the WWEs logo as well as a message reading: ‘Happy Birthday Captain Tom Moore’.
We think that this is a great gesture by the WWE acknowledging a true champion of the World.
Well done Captain Tom and thank you for your sterling efforts, they are much appreciated by us all.
The Championship Belt presented to Captain Tom
At these difficult of times it is nice to hear from some of the greats of the ring letting us know they are safe and well.
Sunday 26th April was one such day when the British Wrestlers Reunion received word from the great legend Bobby Barnes. Bobby keeps in regular contact with our good friend Chris Buckwell as well as a number of others in the wrestling industry and it is nice that he continues to have some involvement after such a distinguished career.
Bobby and his wife Jan advise that they are safe and well and isolating at home like many of us and will continue to do so for as long as is necessary.
Bobby wishes to extend his good wishes to all colleagues and friends at this difficult time and we are happy to pass these on.
We hope that Bobby, Jan and all our other friends remain healthy and stay safe
(Bobby with tag partner Adrian Street)
The committee of Blackpool wrestlers Reunion have been closely monitoring the situation of the Covid-19 virus and the resulting travel restrictions.
After careful consideration, they have decided to postpone the 5 year anniversary wrestlers Reunion originally scheduled in May until next year! May 9th 2021.
The Blackpool Reunion are deeply grateful for the patience and support of all their guests and they look forward to welcoming you all until then stay safe
The British Wrestlers Reunion in Kent and the Scottish Reunion in Ayr are still scheduled to take place on the 9th August and 13th September respectively at the time of writing but of course this may change in due course as both Reunions continue to monitor Government guidelines.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to hear that John 'Taffy' Jenkins passed away on Monday 21st April following a serious car crash. Johns wife Sheila was air lifted to hospital and is in a coma in intensive care with a fractured skull,
John was trained by the legendary Jack Taylor and turned professional in 1962 aged just 14.
On joining Joint Promotions John faced some of the great stars of the day including Jackie Pallo , Pete Roberts, Rollerball Rocco,John Naylor, Marty Jones, Alan Sergeant, Catweazle, Johnny Czeslaw,Tally Ho Kaye, Bert Royal, Vic Faulkner, Alan Dennison,Alan Kilby,John Kowalski and many, many more.
John will be missed by all who knew him and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time. We also send our prayers to Sheila that she recovers from her injuries.
John has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and will be remembered at the Reunion in August.
(John 'Taffy' Jenkins with Keith Myatt)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our continued best wishes to Basil 'Romany' Riley as he continues to recuperate in hospital.
As we advised a few weeks ago Basil had been on life support but thankfully he was taken off this after winning the battle and was due to go into rehab.
Unfortunately, Basil has now contracted Coronavirus which has prevented him from entering rehab at this time.
Basil remains in good spirits despite this recent setback and says hello to all his friends and fans.
The Reunion, as all of us we are sure, hope Basil makes a speedy recovery from coronavirus and is able to get into rehab as soon as possible.
(Basil Riley with fellow legend Steve Veidor)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our warmest congratulations to the first couple of wrestling, the Exotic Adrian Street and Miss Linda who celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary on Thursday 16th April.
At these very difficult times and after days of reporting sad news we are pleased to bring some good news and put a smile on our faces.
We hope that Adrian and Linda have a great day and have many more happy years together.
(Adrian and Linda on their wedding day)
The British Wrestlers Reunion have more sad news to report as we have been now been told that Duke Cordell aka Duke of Camberwell has passed away on the 16th April aged 84.
Duke was part of the same stable of Brighton wrestlers as Bobby England, Ray Luxford, Johnny Winters, and his brother Ricky, The Kid, and many more. All grapplers were trained by Reg Cooper (Barry Cooper`s father) and many of these went on to wrestle professionally around the UK.
Duke has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we of course send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
RIP Duke Cordell.
More sad news to report as we learn of the passing of legendary WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel who died on the 16th April aged just 69 years of age.
Howard Finkel made his WWE debut in 1977 for the WWWF in Madison Square Garden. He remained a mainstay in WWE for years to come after becoming the company’s full-time ring announcer in 1979.
WWE wrote up a memorial for Howard where they remembered the times where his role in the company extended outside of his typical ring announcer duties.
Despite being a ring announcer, Howard didn’t shy away from in-ring competition in certain circumstances. In 1995, he battled his longtime rival Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on Raw, and later helped X-Pac shave Jeff Jarrett’s head in a Hair vs. Hair Match at SummerSlam 1998.
Howard was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and will long be remembered by wrestlers and fans around the world as the voice of the WWE/F.
We send our condolences to Howards family and friends at this very sad time and may he now RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to announce yet another death as our friend Al Marshall passed away after illness on Thursday 16th April.
Al was the ultimate professional and was a friend to us all and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Al has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky ad will be remembered by us all at our Reunion in August.
The Reunion send our condolences to Als family and friends at this very sad time.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to hear the news that Northern heavyweight Dave Adams has passed away.
Dave was initially trained at Charlie Glover's Junction gym and was in good company alongside Pedro the Gypsy, Dwight J Ingleburgh, Karl Von Kramer, Bruno Elrington
Dave, who during his illustrious career wrestled under a number of guises including Dirty/Crazy Dave Adams, the Pitmans Hercules and Undertaker Doom was well respected by all who knew him and will be greatly missed.
Dave has been added to the Dressing Room and will be remembered by us all at this years Reunion.
We send our condolences to Daves family and friends at this very sad time.
(Dave Adams with Sam Betts (Dwight J Ingleburgh) and Ian McGregor)
A few months ago we reported that the great nephew of 'Cocky' Chick Knight was currently writing a book about the life and times of the great London heavyweight. The book is well underway and we have now received an update from the author, Andy Scott as follows:-
'I do hope that you are all keeping safe and well in these uncertain changing times?
Just to let you know I am ploughing on with research and writing the book London's Loveable Villain, about great uncle Chick, and am 22,600+ words in.
We have the pre and post-fight reports on the exhibition match with Billy Wells, working through all his wrestling matches under all names, so many and doing it year by year. We have an eight months tour of Singapore and India in 1952, a chapter on a Soho nightclub gangland fight when Chick was a doorman/bouncer in 1959, various instances of disqualification, including referees being knocked out and Chick being knocked out by a referee himself.
We are now trying to research his films and know of 2 films, Trouble Brewing and The Wicked Lady but can find no records of others but there are believed to be a dozen at least.
We have a chapter on the celebrity friends including Albert Pierrepoint Britain's last hangman, along with pictures of the two, Chick's lifesaving rescues, and so much more.
Just wanted to keep you all updated.
One thing we would love to track down are his trophies. Believed to be many all were sadly pawned but may be around??
Everyone stay safe and well'
World Wrestling Entertainment have confirmed that the annual post WrestleMania 36 tour of the UK has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was announced on Thursday 9th April that the following live events and SmackDown television taping have been postponed until October 2020 and April 2021:
* Glasgow - moved from May 3 to October 7
* Birmingham - moved from May 5 to October 4
* Cardiff - moved from May 6 to October 5
* Sheffield - moved from May 7 to October 6
* London - moved from May 8 to October 9 (SmackDown on FOX taping)
* Newcastle - moved from May 4 to April 30, 2021
In addition to the WWE postponing their tour all UK promoters have now cancelled or postponed live shows up until July. Of course this is a terrible time for us all and our thoughts are with all wrestlers and promoters who, through no fault of their own, are currently unable to earn a living.
In a time when there is so much sadness and bad news around not only in the wrestling industry but the World as a whole it is refreshing to be able to report some good news.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send huge congratulations to Drew McIntyre who on Sunday 5th April at Wrestlemania defeated Brock Lesnar to become the new WWE Heavyweight Champion, the first British born wrestler to hold the championship.
Drew is a great supporter of our friends at the Scottish Wrestlers Reunion and sends them a personal message each year congratulating them on their achievements, his parents are also regular visitors to the Reunion. Drew was also the very first inductee into the Scottish Wrestlers Reunion Hall of Fame.
A great night for Scottish wrestling and UK wrestling as a whole and lets hope that Drew can successfully defend the title over the coming months.
(Drew was the very first inductee in the Scottish Wrestlers Reunion Hall of Fame and received his award from Dale Storm)
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to report that Cyndi Alice Cooper, the daughter of Catweazle, passed away on Friday 3rd April.
Cyndi was a great supporter of the Reunion and was present every year to represent her late father and even accepted a posthumous award for him a few years ago. It was the death of Catweazle himself that started the Reunion in the first place and so Cyndi held a very special place in all of our hearts.
Our condolences go to Cyndis family and friends at this very sad time and may she now RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of female wrestling star Julia Prayter,
Julia will be much missed and we send our condolences to her family and friends at this sad time.
Julia has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and will be remembered with all those others who have passed away over the last 12 months at this years Reunion.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to announce that long term wrestling fan and friend Rabbi Neil Kraft passed away on the 26th March, a victim of the Coronavirus.
Neil, who was 69 attended many wrestling events with his son Oscar and is seen here with LDN Promoter Sanjay Bagga.
Neil was well known by many of the wrestlers around the UK and loved nothing more than attending wrestling shows in and around his hometown. He flew to America and officiated at the wedding of former champion Tex Benedict,
We send our sincere condolences to Neils family and friends at this sad time.
Please keep safe and healthy and follow guidelines so that we are able to beat this pandemic and get back to normality as soon as possible.
As the Coronavirus continues to take hold around the World the British Wrestlers Reunion hope that wrestlers, fans and all of our supporters remain healthy and stay safe.
With many of us now in lockdown or unable to live our normal life our thoughts and prayers go to those who have lost loved ones or who are suffering from this awful pandemic.
We can only hope that by following guidelines we can eradicate the Coronavirus as soon as possible and get back to normality.
Please look after yourselves and your family and friends during these very tough times for us all.
Over the last few days we have received a number of emails and telephone calls from wrestlers and fans asking about not only this years Reunion but the future of the Reunion following on from the sad passing of Wayne Bridges on the 8th March. In response to all queries and to clarify the matter we can now advise as follows:-
It was the express wish of Wayne Bridges that the Reunion continue for as many years as possible and therefore as a result of this the Reunion due to be held on Sunday 9th August will go ahead as planned and future Reunions will continue to be held on the second Sunday of August for the foreseeable future. This has the full backing of Sarah Bridges and the Reunion will continue to take place at The Bridges this year as it has been for the last 24 years.
This years Reunion will be held in tribute and in memory of Wayne Bridges and we invite wrestlers and fans from around the World to join us to remember the life of not only a great champion in the ring but a man who for 25 years ensured that the Reunion thrived and that its popularity never dwindled.
Whilst we are committed to this years Reunion taking place we are also mindful of the effect that the Coronavirus is having on events across the UK and indeed the World and of course we will monitor this situation over the coming months.
All being well we look forward to seeing everyone on the 9th August for another memorable occasion and we thank you all for your continued support.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are delighted to hear the news that Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog will finally be inducted into the 2020 WWE Hall of Fame.
As many will know an online Petition was started in 2013 to get Davey Boy Smith inducted and over 26,000 signed the Petition. The Daily Star newspaper also petitioned the WWE over the last few years and finally all the hard work has paid off.
Davey Boy will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on the 2nd April 2020 from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, as part of WrestleMania 36 week. He will join Batista, nWo members Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & Sean Waltman, The Bella Twins and JBL in the Class of 2020.
A great honour for Davey Boys family and for British wrestling as a whole and one that is long overdue.
(Davey Boy Smith or Young David as he was known as back in 1979 graces the cover of a Dale Martin Programme)
We would on behalf of Sarah Bridges, the Bridges family and the British Wrestlers Reunion like to thank everyone for their kind words and tributes following the very sad passing of Wayne Bridges on the 8th March.
We have received literally 100s of messages of condolence and support from wrestlers and fans from all around the World and these are very comforting to everyone at this very sad time.
We have been asked by many people wishing to know about funeral arrangements so that they can attend and pay their respects to Bill and as soon as a date has been confirmed we will let everyone know.
Thank you once again, it means an awful lot.
Born in the roughest part of Islington, London on July 5th, it was on the cards that WAYNE BRIDGES would end up on the wrong side of the fence, but his obvious love of sport managed to keep him out of the long arms of the law. Bills Father sadly died when he was just 3 years old, leaving him to act as Dad to his younger Sister Esther , plus becoming the breadwinner for his Widowed Mother at an early age. He was an unruly child who hated school, rarely attending his lessons and preferring to run with the local pack, getting into all sorts of mischief, with would be gangsters such as the infamous Naish Brothers with whom he grew up. On one occasion, he set light to the back door of his home for a prank.
However by 9 years old, he was introduced to swimming at the local Hornsey Road Baths where he took everyone by surprise at his prowess in the water. Soon, he was winning competitions and eventually beat everyone in his class. His ability at the crawl was awesome and he became like a fish in the water. By the time that he was in his teens, the young Woodbridge had been chosen to represent his Country many times, culminating by being chosen to swim for the British Team at the Rome Olympics in 1962. Here he was beaten by the Legendary IAN BLACK , during the 100 metres crawl and also his friend and rival DICK CAMPIAN.
Simultaneously, away from the pool, Bill was becoming increasingly interested in Amateur wrestling and having grown into a strapping 6ft 2 inch giant with a Tarzan type body to match, was a natural to do well at this sport also. He regularly trained at the United, the Ashdown, The Loughborough, The YMCA in Edgeware Road, and Police training headquarters at Hendon, with great Champions such as DENNIS MCNAMARA,DON IRVINE,BILL MOSTYN, GEORGE COLEMAN, DENNIS GARVEY, FRANK WARREN and TONY BUCK who has remained a friend to this day. Simultaneously, he honed his great physique at the London gym's in the celebrated company of ARNOLD SWARZENEGGER when he lived here. Title followed Title as the almost invincible grappler with the immense strength tore his way through the top Division, until yet again he was chosen to represent his Country at International level, where he fought for Great Britain over 15 times, travelling to France, Germany and many other Overseas Tournaments, his meteoric rise to fame being assisted by JIMMY BROWN and TERRY BLACKWALL It was at one of these contests at the United Club, that the immortal Legends : MIKE MARINO and JOE CORNELIUS happened to frequent and were immediately struck by the sheer physical presence of this super youngster. They invited him to attend a Professional Show where they were working and Bill became immediately drawn to this new form of wrestling. There followed some training by his hero : MIKE MARINO in the different styles and his amateur days were soon forgotten, when the late great PAUL LINCOLN offered him a job , having his inaugural bout against the same MIKE MARINO, re christened now by Lincoln as WAYNE BRIDGES, the Legend began
Meanwhile, PAUL LINCOLNs Business Empire was in full demand, with the CROMWELLIAN Night Club, 2Is Coffee Bar , Booze cruises and other outlets were flourishing, giving WAYNE BRIDGES a new role as minder and chief Security Officer of the many pop stars who were booked such as SIR TOM JONES, P.J. PROBY and many more. This success, gave him the opportunity to reward his Mothers devotion to his upbringing and he managed to buy the four story house where she had a flat , followed by the house next door., so that she might live in comfort. Erstwhile pop stars like SIR CLIFF RICHARD, HANK MARVIN and THE SHADOWS, MARTY WILDE, JOE BROWN ,BILLY FURY,LONNIE DONNEGAN ,TOMMY STEELE, etc., were all working for Lincoln, erecting the rings in exchange for a spot singing at the 2 is and Bridges cashed in by letting out spare rooms to these would be stars. He soon graduated into pub life by buying his first pub called The Cock? in Deptford, retaining ownership of all three to this day and with the houses being let to the Japanese Embasssy.
Over the next few years, his rise to the top billing spot was phenomenal, working with grapplers that were to become lifelong friends such as JUDO AL HAYES, BOB KIRKWOOD, DON STEADMAN, REBEL RAY HUNTER ,BOB ANTHONY, ZOLTAN BOSCHIK, PAUL LINCOLN ( DOCTOR DEATH), JON CORTEZ,DENNIS DEAN , etc.,and when DALE-MARTINS bought out Lincolns promotions in the mid 60s. he was integrated into the main stream of wrestling in a way that was unprecedented. Once Established and with many TV appearances under his belt the Beau Brummel of wrestling as he was often called, because of his insistence that the wrestling socks were always even , commenced many Foreign Tours, especially into Europe, Japan, Africa, Canada and the USA where his charismatic charm , physique and good looks made him a firm favourite on the circuits. Shoot Legends such as KARL GOTCH and GEORGES GORDIENKO not known for their generosity towards opponents took the youngster under their wing, teaching him many new manoeuvres while on Tour, working for the WWE . Such was his popularity , that the original VINCE McMAHON Snr., invited him to lodge at his home in Connecticutt.
Finally, after many minor titles, WAYNE BRIDGES was given the opportunity to wrestle for the belt and a new Heavyweight Champion of the World was crowned. During his reign as Champion, there were many attempts to lift the strap, with the Title changing back and forwards three times, but his bouts against KENDO NAGASAKI and the great MIGHTY JOHN QUINN were the most legendary and ironically despite the ferocity within the ring, the two have remained friends to this day.
Wayne Bridges was born a gifted athlete and was one of those infuriating people that excels in everything. Standing tall at 6ft plus, dark hair, good looks, a physique to die for, he was destined to become the global super star that he was to become. Everyone who has ever known him, is drawn to his quiet modest charm, and he can number many former opponents as his closest allies. Men such as STEVE VEIDOR, PRINCE KUMALI, JOE CORNELIUS, COLIN JOYNSON ,GORI ED MANGOTITCH,JUDO PETE ROBERTS and dearest pal the late BOMBER PAT ROACH.
He has helped many colleagues into Business ventures of their own and rarely does anyone say anything detrimental about this immensely popular character known as Big Winnie or 'Waynetta', a joke that he absolutely loves in his self deprecating way, modestly referring to his own work in the ring as Lacklustre, which was a phrase used by KENT WALTON during one TV broadcast.
He also played regular soccer for the wrestlers team to raise monies for charity and appeared many times in public to generate funds for spina bifida and other worthy causes with others wrestlers such as TONY 'BANGER' WALSH, BILL BROMLEY, IAN MUIR, SID COOPER, ROBBY BARON, DAVE 'BUTCHER' BOND, JOHNNY KINCAID, MAL SANDERS, LENNIE HURSTand more.
Simultaneously, his athletic frame was in constant demand on movies and TV shows , where he body doubled for old friend SEAN CONNERY in all his JAMES BOND films, plus numerous roles in other productions and TV favourites such as THE GENERATION GAME with SIR BRUCE FORSYTH, and THIS IS YOUR LIFE etc..
Away from the ring, he continued swimming and training on the weights , plus a love of horses and never more than when he was living in the States, where he roamed freely across the cowboy lands on horseback.
Family life was also good for Wayne with his then wife Sheila and two children Dean and Jo Anne. Dean grew up wanting nothing more than to follow in his fathers footsteps turning Professional as soon as his age permitted. His height, and youthful good looks reminiscent of his Dad. He took the name DEAN BRISCO and was soon emulating the success of his world famous Father, taking on all the star names of the day, even appearing on TV against the Bear man : JOHN ELIJAH. Dean often could be seen in the corner for Waynes title defences, and the two appeared together many times as they travelled the same circuits. Everything seemed perfect until the boy became ill when he was just 24 years old, contracting Leukaemia which ravaged his body. He fought the disease with immense courage, but lost the fight in January 1986. He had just turned 25 years old! To make matters worse, the lad had recently settled down with his girlfriend and they were expecting their first child who was to be christened DANIEL but who Dean would never see. The Family were devastated and none more so than Wayne himself.
By the early 90s, he owned and ran a large public House called The Prince of Orange in Greenwich. It was here that he eventually met and fell in love with SARAH BRIDGES, who was working as a barmaid. Around this time, he took on the hosting of the British Wrestlers Reunion after his pal JOE CORNELIUS, emigrated to Cyprus in 1993, a role that he has played ever since.
Sarah meanwhile, started to visit a local gym and took an increasing interest in body-building with Bill eventually becoming her mentor. Her success in that field has been outstanding, winning the Miss Great Britain Title and then conquering the world as the largest woman bodybuilder on the planet, numbering legends like Mr. Universe: LOU FERRIGNO ( Incredible Hilk) and 6 times Mr Olympia :DORIAN YATES as her friends.
The couple decided to settle in Kent and sold the Orange to buy a beautiful bungalow and a nearby pub in Horton Kirby, South Darenth, which they renamed The Bridges.
Of course, weight-training has never been far away from Bills own life, in order to maintain his enormous physique, and he trained daily in the gym, followed by over 40 lengths of the local pool twice weekly , where he still cuts a dash against the youngsters.
Wrestling for so many years and against the giants of the ring, took its toll on his body however and a few years ago, Bridges underwent serious spinal surgery in a double operation, each taking 7 hours, but the nervous system was damaged beyond repair and although the pain factor has been removed, the nerves have never re-grown, leaving the Legend struggling to walk or stand up straight for any length of time.
For all the hardships that he has endured over the last 25 years however, the star remained positive and cheerful , welcoming all his many friends at the Country pub whenever they called, often playing host with Sarah to close wrestling buddies over dinner and convivial evenings of chat and laughter, plus telephoning all his pals on an almost daily basis.
Sadly, on Sunday 8th March 2020 the inevitable happened, Bill Bridges faced a bout he was unable to win, after years as a star and a champion he passed away with Sarah, his sister Esther and his niece Tina at his bedside.
Bill Bridges has left a legacy in wrestling that will never be equalled, a true gentlemen, a champion and an all round top man, he will never be forgotten and he will live on in all our memories through his family and the Reunion. RIP Bill, you will be missed.
(Bill Bridges and Ken Sowden at a recent Reunion)
(Wayne Bridges presents Ken Sowden with one of his cups at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon in 2013)
It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that the former Heavyweight Champion of the World : WAYNE BRIDGES has passed away peacefully.
'Big Winnie' or Bill as he was affectionately known, achieved every success in life as a supreme athlete, swimming for England in the Olympics, representing his Country as British Amateur Wrestling Champion, then as a Professional wrestler, becoming three times Heavyweight Champion of the World, followed by appearances in many films including 'The Italian Job' with Michael Caine, 'Shalako' with Brigitte Bardot, and acting as Sean Connery's body double in the James Bond movies plus many more appearances, culminating in being Host of the British Wrestlers Reunion for over 25 years with his lovely wife and bodybuilding Champion :Sarah Bridges and travelling the Country as statistician at many bodybuilding contests.
Sarah, who was in the States working with Arnold Swarzenegger on the Arnie classics last week, got the call to return home urgently which she did spending Bill's last moments at his bedside.
Bill also has a beloved little Sister Esther whom he adored plus his niece Tina Kerry- Anne who were fortunate enough to be at the bedside in time to share some precious last moments .
Away from the glamour, Bill remained modest, unassuming, self effacing, humourus, giving most of his time to young upcoming wrestlers plus always recognising and applauding the abilities of grapplers and other athletes known as carpenters in the Business,who had not been as fortunate as himself.
His last wish was that the Wrestlers Reunion continues as normal and accordingly this year it will be on August the 9th at 'The Bridges' which will be dedicated to his memory.
When the funeral arrangements are complete, we shall post details and Sarah has asked me to say that everyone is very welcome to attend and celebrate the life of this true Champion
Needless to say that Sarah is devastated at this time and we would respectfully ask that we respect her privacy during her initial grieving.
Since the announcement of Bills death was announced we have been in-undated with tributes from wrestlers and fans from around the world, over 200 within a few hours just showing how loved and respected Bill was with everyone.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are delighted to welcome back to the UK Scott Conway who, for many years, has been living and working in Thailand.
Prior to leaving for Thailand Scott literally did it all in the wrestling business and was one of the top promoters in the country at the time.
It didnt take Scott long to get back to business as within a few days of landing back in the UK he was at his first wrestling show and he is seen here with LDN Wrestling Promoter Sanjay Bagga at a show held on the 7th March in Borden.
We look forward to seeing a lot more of Scott around the wrestling halls and wish him well with his future plans.
(Scott Conway seen here with Johnny Kidd on his last visit to the Reunion in 2012)
(Johnny Kidd, James Kenna, Bob Barratt and Lee Bamber)
Legends were out in force in Gosport on Saturday 29th February as a bout for the ages took place as Johnny Kidd once against faced Bob Barratt in a contest which was wrestled over rounds, included public warnings and even had seconds in the corner.
Overseeing proceedings was the UKs number one MC/referee Lee Bamber who was thrilled to officiate this legends bout as well as being MC for the show.
Also seen here is James Kenna who after a successful career in the business had his farewell bout (well for now anyway as wrestlers never actually retire do they ???).
The show was sold out and everyone in attendance enjoyed a night of top class professional wrestling courtesy of SWF Wrestling.
It was one of the most anticipated wrestling events to be held in years and it did not disappoint as An Evening in Conversation with Adrian Street which was held in London on Thursday 27th February has been hailed a huge success with wrestlers and fans travelling from all around the UK to listen to the stories from the man himself as he reminisced about his six decades in the wrestling industry which has taken him all around the World
The audience were in awe as Adrian relived memories from his early beginning in Wales to working for Joint Promotions to his times wrestling many of the greats in the USA and beyond alongside his other achievements from film to music to top selling author, no stone was left un-turned.
This was a great night for not only Adrian Street and Miss Linda fans but also wrestling fans in general and if there was one complaint it was that they it did not last long enough as everyone wanted to hear much much more from this great legend.
The entire event was filmed and it is hoped that it will be available on dvd in the foreseeable future.
Looking back on the success of this event we are sure that Adrian can be persuaded to do another one so that even more fans can hear the legends stories and if this actually happens we will advise you all here.
(Adrian shows that he is still in great shape at 79 years of age)
Legendary wrestler Leather Lena made an emotional return to the ring on Friday 28th February as she paid tribute to her fellow professional and long time friend Viv Martell who passed away in January.
The show promoted by EPW American Wrestling made tribute at their Ellesmere Port show and all those in attendance paid their final respects to one of the all time great female wrestlers.
Gone but never forgotten, RIP Viv Martell
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to report that 1960s welterweight star Frank Robb passed away on Thursday 27th February after illness.
Frank's wrestling career spanned the best part of thirty years ending in the early 1980s. He worked mostly for Joint Promotions but also for independent promoters.
Frank has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and will be remembered at the Reunion in August.
The Reunion send our condolences to Franks family and friends at this sad time and may he now rest in peace.
(Paul Bristow MP addresses the crowd at the LDN Wrestling show)
A Tory MP has gone to extraordinary lengths to defend the reputation of his newly won constituency as he took on a pro wrestler who criticised Peterborough.
Paul Bristow won the seat for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election and he took great exception to wrestler Joey Scott's trash talk about the area at a show promoted by LDN Wrestling.
As a result of Mr Scotts comments Paul stepped into the ring on Friday 21st February to take on the 'loud-mouthed bully' - but was swiftly beaten down and forced out of the squared circle. However, Paul got his revenge as he returned to the ring later in the evening to interfere in Scott's match.
Scott, who in 2019 was named Wrestler of the Year by the British Wrestlers Reunion, tried to hit Mr Bristow with a steel chair but the MP ducked and then helped the wrestler's rival, LDN Heavyweight Champion Alan Travis, to secure a pin fall victory as he administered the successful three count.
Even after revenge Mr Bristow has made it clear to LDN Commissioner Ken Sowden and Promoter Sanjay Bagga that he may not be finished with professional wrestling....could a bout be on the cards for this newly elected MP against Scott in either solo or tag team action. LDN Wrestling have confirmed to us that they would be prepared to sanction a bout should Mr Bristow request one and time will tell if this will take place at a later date.
(Joey Scott and MP Paul Bristow)
Saturday 8th February the Mayor and Consort of Bolton were invited to a
surprise presentation event.
Many people will not know the name Jack Holt but he
has been teaching wrestling for over 50 years in the community and the
Mayor and Consort were very pleased to be invited to surprise him at
“work” to present him with his certificate of appreciation.
Jack is seen here with the other dignitaries and we here at the British Wrestlers Reunion send our congratulations to Jack on this great achievement and all he has done over the last 50 years.
British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to receive news that
Scotlands Andy Robin has passed away.
The Commonwealth wrestling champion, best known as the adopted father of Hercules the Bear, died this week, aged 84.
His wife of almost 40 years, Maggie Robin, has paid tribute to the gentle giant she raised the 9ft grizzly with for 25 years..
Andy has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and a fitting obituary will be posted shortly.
Our condolences go to Andys family and friends at this very sad time and may he now Rest in Peace.
day on and I have returned from this years British
Wrestlers Reunion, an event which has again excelled with everyone in
attendance having a fantastic day reliving the glory days of British
The plaudits this year both yesterday and today have been
tremendous and with the largest crowd we have seen at The Bridges in a
few years it proves once again that the Reunion has a good future ahead
It was great to see so many of our friends there again this
year as well as many of the great legends of wrestling, some for the
first time and some returning after a few years absence. My personal
congratulations to everyone who was presented with an award, each and
every one was very well deserved so well done to you all.
Of course I am not alone when it comes to organising this great Reunion and I would like to say a big thank you to Wayne and Sarah Bridges for their hospitality, as always the most gracious of hosts. I would also like to thank the following who worked so hard on the day to ensure it was a success, Martin Gillott, Barry Howard, Stephen Cresswell, Colin Joynson, Johnny Kincaid, Scott Elvis, Ray Clark, Bob Stafford Donna Walker, David Walker, Belinda Jayne and a special thank you to Lee Canderton who proved why he is the top MC in the business today, he compared the Reunion with the greatest of professionalism and I have received nothing but positive reviews on his performance.
I was also delighted to finally turn the tables on my friend and mentor Frank Rimer by inducting him into the Hall of Fame,
I will shortly be adding over 200 photos of
the day to the website at www.britishwrestlersreunion.com
so feel free to check them out to see how we all had a great time.
Finally and most importantly a huge thank you to all the wrestlers, officials and fans who made the journey to be with us, the Reunion is nothing without all of you and I thank you for your continued support, we must be doing something right and we look forward to seeing you all again for the 29th year for the 2020 Reunion.