(J J Pallo received an Award from Roy St Clair at the 2013 Reunion)
Mr Thomas Livingston Stevenson.
What can I say about the man that hasn’t already been articulated by others? Only that on occasions and quoting Alloway’s Scots Bard Robert Burns; “I louved him like a Brither”
He was far better known, to both me and others, as simply “Wee Tam.”
I first encountered Tam when I started working for Howie of Dunlop in the Newton Estate part of Ayr, in the late 1960’s.
We hit it off right away, I think probably because we both had what was best described as “Monty Python” sense of humour.
of each others company. We were always in bother as far as the Gaffer “Lees”
was concerned. But he was impossible to please, so it was like water off a
Ducks Back, usually. One time, having been sent to deliver a large frozen food
order to Wallace’s in Ayr’s High Street.
On entering, the upstairs office area, to get the paperwork signed off. We noticed a long bench table, around which, several ladies were busily counting money. Loose change, both copper and silver coins and piles and piles of different coloured Bank Notes……... Giving me one of his Impish Looks, followed by a cheeky Wee Grin. Tam then shouted out at the top of his voice;“This is a furniture hold up, drop your drawers!”
Well there were bank notes flying everywhere!
We quickly scurried out the back door, chuckling away to ourselves. But when we got back to our base, the shop owner had been on the telephone complaining. Clearly unlike Tam and I, he did not have a sense of humour. And he was most definitely not a Monty Python Fan!
By the time of our first meeting, I had been a Professional Wrestler for around 4 years, and I was also running, the now quite famous “Old Mossblown Gym” in the Ayrshire mining village of the same name……. So I invited Tam to come along, and try out in the ring.
He took to it like a duck to water, and let me say this Wee Man “Frae Govan” was nobodies push-over!............He was as hard as nails.
In no time at all, his professional name “Scott Thomson” was appearing on Posters around Scotland, mostly under the management team of Spartan and other Independents Promoters.
As well as Grappling, and Driving, he was a clever man with his hands. If there was an electrical problem and anything mechanical which required fixing, Tam was your man.
His favourite performance venue was The Rothesay Pavilion, every Wednesday night, during the summer season. We got over there by way of the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry from Wemyss Bay, around 4-30pm…………..But Getting back wasn’t quite as straightforward. The Last, Large Ferry Boat was 9-30pm. So after a show, we lined up, down at the Harbour Side and waited for the “Skipper” and his one-man, solitary crew member, off the Mail Boat to exit the local Bar. Hopefully reasonably sober?
We usually set off around 12 Midnight and we would sometimes share the transport with Greyhounds, Sheep, Folks who’d mistimed their earlier departure time. And on some occasions with Celebrities who had appeared that night, at the Winter Gardens. The most famous of these being “The Corries.” ……..The term Mail Boat sounds quite grand, but this vessel was actually a Wee Inshore Fishing Boat. And I mean Wee!!!
On the nights when there was a Thick Fog on the Clyde, with all those horns sounding off, it could be quite scary. And if there was a swell on, it was even scarier. But Wee Tam took it all in his stride, standing up at the pointed end of the boat, like Leonardo Dicaprio in “Titanic.” Confidently, sounding out at the top of his voice “Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Da, Di, Da, Da, Da! And so on!!!
Maybe he thought he had Viking blood in him?
And, coming as he did from Glasgow’s West End, the one-time World Famous, home of Scottish Ship Building, maybe he did?
A few years later, when Ladies started to appear on Bills on Wrestling Shows, the length and breadth of the UK. We in our Gym were at a loss, but not for long. Because the ever resourceful Tam, suggested his only daughter Lorraine would make an excellent pupil. And so it proved……..She was a willing chip off the old block and easily followed in her Father’s footsteps……..If anything, she was even better.
So then, all we needed to do was to train up her Mother, Margaret. And we’d then have one half of a working Tag Team!!! Only kidding folks. That thought never entered our heads…Honest!
One of the Highlights of Tam’s Wrestling career was being selected in 1972, to represent his country, in a Scotland verses England match in Manchester. So after a great day out, as guests, at Main Road where Manchester City used to play. And following on after the Show. We were then wined and dined at a West Indian Club, arranged by our good friend, the late Mr Ezra Francis. And somewhat the worse for wear we emerged into the Mancunian late night…..So Having hailed a passing Hackney Cab, Tam clambered on board, giving instructions in his broad Ayrshire accent. “OK Jimmy gonny drap me aff at Harvey Gardens, and don’t spare the hoarses.” The driver was dumbstruck, which was just as well, as it could have been a sizeable taxi fair. Because Tam lived in Ardrossan!!!
In recent years he took great pleasure in visiting annually, all the Wrestling Re-Unions in the UK; Leeds in April, Manchester in June, London in August and Leeds again in October, and also his native Scottish one in Ayr. He was correctly honoured by a presentation at most of them. His happy, friendly, cheery wee Scots face will be sadly missed, when they all next hold an event…….But Wee Tam will never be forgotten.
Tam, Margaret and Lorraine were, very, very close, and that’s as it should be. And my life is all the richer for having known all three.
Where you are now Tam, I pray Margaret, Lorraine and your good-self are all re-united again. And it goes without saying, others who may be there also, are in the best of company.
REST IN PEACE BROTHER. And never forget our now, well worn, catchphrase from way back in the day: “Don’t take any Wooden Nickels!”
A lovely tribue by Dale to his friend, now at peace with his beloved wife Margaret and daughter Lorraine and may he now RIP.
(Jim Howard with Johnny Saint and Karl Heinz at an LDN show in 2013)
(Adrian Patching is being honoured on the 14th July)
A well known figure on the Kent wrestling scene for the past 50 years is going to be honoured with a Life Time Award at an event at the Strode Park Foundation's Theatre in the Park in mid July when Kent based Rumble Promotions present a big show at the Herne venue.
Adrian Patching, 63 has been at the East Kent home for the past six years since suffering a stroke that leaves his right side with no feeling or movement and unable to speak, but he understands everything said to him and is overjoyed that some of the friends he made over the 50 years as part of the UK Wrestling scene will be at the event.
The show will feature solo matches plus a Rumble finale event where the wrestlers who have previously been involved in the bouts will enter the ring at 1 minute intervals =with the aim to throw their opponents over the Top rope and be declared the King of the Ring, its friend v friend, foe v foe, where literally anything can and usually does happen.
James Mason, a former British Champion has known Adrian for over 20 years when he has helped him setting up the ring before the show says " Adrian is one of Wrestling's unsung heroes, well liked by everyone involved I am so pleased I am able to be at this event ". American masked wrestler Mr USA is on the card and states he will win the finale no matter how he does it. Third generation Maidstone born Syd Manelli will be hoping his youth outcomes experience while direct from TV's First Dates Model Lewis Howley, remembered for appearing in the best viewers figures episode where his date walked out on him, says he has put that behind him now and will show " the ladies of East Kent, what Essex men are all about "
There is also a Ladies Championship match with Aggressive and outspoken Midlander Connor Steele, daughter of legend Klondyke Kate, who defends her belt against South Coast Sizzler Erin Angel.
Promoter Steve Barker says the show is a great Family Entertainment the kids will love - " If you have never taken the kids to a show locally before, now' s the chance for a fund raising show for a great cause "
for the show on Saturday July 14th at 6pm - where there will be a
charity raffle held for the Strode Park Foundation are now on sale from
the website - https://www.strodepark.org.uk/Event/rumble-wrestling-sh
Injuries in professional wrestling are par for the course but even long after retirement many of our beloved stars of the ring do on occasions have to spend a spell in hospital for various reasons. During the last week we have heard that four of our favourites have needed surgery or are awaiting surgery:-
Mal Sanders has undergone a hernia operation and we are pleased to say the procedure was a complete success and Mal is now back home resting up and no doubt planning a comeback to the ring.
Sarah Bridges, the Reunion Treasurer and hostess alongside husband Wayne is scheduled to have a hip replacement in the coming week. The former Miss Great Britain and champion bodybuilder is hopeful to be back on her feet as soon as possible and re-commence her Reunion and bodybuilding duties.
We wish all of the above well and are pleased that Mal, Basil and Keith are well on the mend and hope that Sarahs operations is successful and that she will soon be pain free.
World Wrestling Entertainment have been on British screens for 30 years and have seen some of the biggest crowds for a live wrestling event anywhere in the UK. The UK has always been a very important part of the WWE family and with the extension of a UK Brand they have now appointed our very own Johnny Saint to oversee all UK matters. The following press release has been made relating to this by the WWE:-
Johnny Saint, one of the most revered competitors in British wrestling history, has been named the General Manager of WWE’s United Kingdom brand.
As first reported by the Daily Star, Saint will lead the charge as WWE grows its U.K. division, including the back-to-back United Kingdom Championship Tournament events being held later this month at London’s world-famous Royal Albert Hall.
Beginning in the 1950s, Saint’s remarkable in-ring career spanned more
than five decades. A protégé of the legendary Billy Robinson, Saint is
considered a pioneering force in the U.K. scene, and he is widely hailed
as one of the most technically gifted grapplers of all time.
In a 2013 interview with WWE.com, Daniel Bryan cited Saint as a true “wrestlers’ wrestler.” Though perhaps best known for his elaborate and aesthetically pleasing counter-wrestling, Saint also brought a hard edge to the ring, according to Bryan.
“Johnny Saint is somebody who does fancy reversals, but what made him a wrestlers’ wrestler is when he’d get gritty with his wrestling,” Bryan said. “He entertained people through wrestling. He knew a million different holds. He’d go out there and always have fantastic matches. I wrestled him when he was 60-something years old and was still absolutely phenomenal in the ring. He was so good at what he did, technique-wise.”
Once his wrestling career ended, Saint turned his attention to tutoring the next generation of British grapplers. In 2017, he spent six months as a coach at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida., where he shared his knowledge with NXT Superstars and other WWE recruits.
As he gets set to help WWE embark on a new frontier — including at the
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament events, which will stream on WWE Network on June 25 and 26 — Saint is excited about the future of WWE’s U.K. brand and the platform it offers to wrestlers in the region.
“For the guys who are in the wrestling scene here in the U.K., the worldwide exposure is a wonderful thing,” Saint said. “It’s something that we never really had before, so the new product is going to be tremendous for them.”
We here at the Reunion wish Johnny all the very best with his new venture which is well deserved for all the years service he has already given to the wrestling industry.
Billed as the greatest wrestler
versus boxer match of the century. How the Ali versus Inoki “fight” was an
embarrassment to all in the wrestling and boxing world.
The argument has been going on for centuries asking just who would win in a fight between a boxer or a wrestler? And the truth is it is almost like comparing apples to pears. With too many variables to ever come to a real solution. Both main sports also have differences. Boxing gloves or bare fists? All- in, or cage fighting? And this is before you even include the ever- growing list of martial arts or plain old self defence strategies.
I am always reminded of the scene in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, when hero Harrison Ford is faced with a man with a sword, who gives him what is meant to be a frightening exhibition of fast flourishes, for Ford to, almost in boredom, whip out his side arm pistol and settle the affair with one well- placed bullet.
In real life affrays that come to close quarter or hand to hand fighting usually include a bit of everything.
Leaving the six- shooter aside and hoping your opponent doesn’t resort to thumping you on the head with a beer bottle or chairs (real ones, not those exhibition light aluminium one favoured by the show business grapplers) something I have sadly experienced several times. The usual pub fight would start off with either a head butt or a real haymaker of a punch to the face, followed by a scuffle on the ground.
To have a working knowledge of both wrestling and boxing would be a great advantage.
Those sports enthusiasts who take whatever their choice of fighting seriously believe the method of combat they have chosen to be the best, hence comes the debate and arguments from each camp as to which method is superior and pasts the tests of time.
There is a long list of well publicised boxer versus wrestler challenges, with the fact with must be taken into account that out of these, most were “exhibitions” or “worked” matches. Designed to entertain and quite honestly designed more to make money than prove a point. To soften egos, such “Fights” usually ended in a “Draw” proving nothing to the serious enquirer.
A couple of bits to interest, after boxer Mike Tyson was in exile from boxing, for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, he refereed a WWF wrestling bout and Chuck Wepner, the man who is credited with inspiring Sylvester Stallone to make the “Rocky” movies had a real affray when at a wrestling match, took offence from one of the contestants, climbed through the ropes and against any “script” knocked the villain out with a single blow. In that example it looks like boxing won the argument.
Ali also credits wrestling and “Gorgeous George” for giving him the idea to add more showmanship to what was previously rather a low- key era pre- boxing bouts.
Much is known about Mohammed Ali aka Cassius Clay
Far less about his opponent on that fateful day of the embarrassing bout in Japan.
In Japan, he was a household name. Born, Kanji Inoki in Yokohama in Japan on the 20th of February 1943, second youngest son of eleven children. This, was during the war 11 years and the time when the Allies were heavily bombing his home town, and later in 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulting the end of the war. Soon after in 1948 his father died and Inoki was taken care of by his brother who taught him the popular Japanese martial arts. He was also an all-rounder at sports including following Sumo and catch wrestling.
He migrated to Brazil and began training for serious professional wrestling, at one time being trained by the legendary Karl Gotch, which brought on success so that he took on a partner in a tag team and was slowly working up a reputation as a tough all- round wrestler. Now 6ft 2ins and weighing 240lbs becoming an iconic figure in japan.In 1972 he formed the new Japanese pro wresting organisation with fights that included a bout with Andre The Giant in 1974. (In 1976 Andre fought 6ft 5ins Chuck Wepner in a Boxer v. Wrestler match, with Wepner being flung out of the ring into the third row by Andre.)
Here is where Ali comes into the fray. In 1976 Ali who was in the far east, and near the end of his own career having ran out of competition, put forward the idea that he would take on any martial arts fighter in a boxing versus wrestler bout, to include all mixed martial arts.
The idea took hold, causing much excitement and for the backers, a chance to make some big money. So, the usual Ali pre fight bragging went on, with Ali predicting he would knock the big wrestler out with one blow to his rather prominent jaw and Inoki vowing he would break Ali’s arms and fling him out of the ring into the cheap seats….all good fun. Thus the two players whipped up excitement and more important, guaranteed a huge pay day.
billed as “World Martial Arts Championship,” and refereed by Gene Le Bell, took place at
the Budokan Hall in Tokyo on 26th June, 1976.
It was broadcast to 34 countries with an estimated audience of 1.4 million. Vince Mc Mahon sold tickets to a closed- circuit TV location drawing crowds of over 32.000 and the Budokan was sold out, with top tickets going for 300.000 Yen. It was a disaster.
Originally agreed the match would be a “worked match”, Ali didn’t like the script so it turned into a shoot- out.
Boxed in by a set of rules robbing both contestants of their best weapons in the ring, neither fighter was really able to put up their best.
Inoki, unable to throw or put any holds on Ali, because the Ali camp had seen just how dangerous Inoki was insisted that Inoki was not allowed to grapple, throw, or kick unless he held one knee on the ground, so he just dropped to the floor, and as the rules insisted he kept one knee on the ground if he kicked, so no chance of a flying drop kick, he just threw single leg kicks at Ali in an attempt to get his man to the ground. These kicks, although they looked pathetic, did later cause Ali much grief causing him problems with blood clots. Ali hardly threw a punch and the audience, who had paid colossal money for the privilege of watching this farce, instead of the tough fight they had expected, chanted they wanted their money back.
To compound the rumours, it was said “The Black Muslims who were laying money on Ali, threated Inoki with death if he actually laid a hand on their man”
With Inoki shuffling around the mat kicking out at Ali, and Ali just walking around the ring to avoid the kicks it got worse. Ali didn’t score a punch until the seventh round. Then Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer stopped the “fight” because he said Inoki’s shoe laces were causing cuts to Ali’s legs. By the tenth round Mohammed scored another punch, with a total of just six punches during the whole match. Inoki did manage to trip Ali over enough for him to roll onto Ali’s chest to claim a fall, but to even the score, Inoki lost three points for elbowing Ali in the face. So, guess what? After the full fifteen rounds, it was declared a draw. With both men able to make an argument that they had in fact won.
After the “fight” so much rubbish was thrown into the ring with disgust from the fans, it took a day to clear it up.
The weird thing is that after the exhibition of how not to put on a mixed art match, the pair actually became close friends. Ali retired from boxing in 1981. Inoki however went on to wrestle for another twenty- two years. He later turned to politics, established the Sports and Peace Party and claimed fame as a negotiator obtaining from Saddam Hussein the release of hostages held in Iraq. He retired from the mat game in 1998.
Article written by David Gentle for The British Wrestlers Reunion.
Visitors from all over Scotland descended on the Perthshire community on Saturday 26th May for the Blackford Games with a
mixture of events including throwing the hammer, tossing the caber, tug
o’ war and athletics, track and field events.
At this years event there was a big surprise for this year’s chieftain Bill “Flying
Scot” Ross, who was inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for Scotland.
A native of Auchterarder, the energetic joiner William James Ross was highly active in the Highland Games circuit as a youngster, competing in events such as the high jump, pole vault and hill running.
By 1959, Bill had started training in Stirling alongside local wrestlers Willie Bell and Andy Robin, with an aim to compete in grappling contests held at the Games.
But it was a trip to watch Bell wrestle in Inverness that jump-started his own path towards a life as a professional wrestler in 1961.
Immediately prior to the show, one of the other wrestlers had suffered an injury and there was a vacancy that needed to be filled.
Aware of the physical talents and endurance that Ross possessed, Bell quickly recommended the young athlete to promoter Max Crabtree, who agreed to use him on the card. Impressed by the potential that the novice displayed in the ring, Crabtree offered Bill further bookings in the following weeks, beginning with an official debut bout against Duncan Fechnie at the Eldorado Stadium in Edinburgh.
Bill went on to dominate the Scottish and European lightweight divisions and amassed three reigns with the British Commonwealth Lightweight Championship. Amongthese wins was a famous title victory against Terry Jowett at Perth City Hall which positioned him as one of the premier singles talents in the sport.
In the years following his retirement, Bill has remained an active figure in the organisation of Highland Games events, through which he first discovered his interest in competitive athletics and professional wrestling.
A plaque to commemorate Bills induction was presented by Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy at a civic ceremony held during the games as seen here alongside Bill and Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for Scotland Representative Bradley Craig.
The Reunion would like to send our very best wishes and congratulations to Bill on receiving such an accolade for his years service to the wrestling industry.
As many of you will have read in the media over the last few months on Friday 25th May 2018 the Data Protection Act is being replaced by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
As a result of the above law coming into force we will no longer be sending emails to you advising of Reunion news as with thousands of members it would be an impossible task to send emails solely to those that have requested them.
not receiving emails from us you will still be able to keep fully up
todate with Reunion news right here or via our Facebook page which is
British Wrestling, the Glory Years.
We would like to remind you all that this years Reunion is being held on Sunday 12th August at the home of the Reunion, The Bridges, Horton Road, South Dareth, Kent, DA4 9AX. This years event is shaping up to be another huge success and as well as all the great wrestlers and fans joining us from around the globe we will be welcoming a number of wrestlers for the very first time as well as wrestlers who have not visited us for a few years but who have already committed to being with us this season.
We would like to thank all of you that
have taken the time to read our emails to you over the years and have
replied to us thanking us for what we do to keep the memory of the glory
years alive, your comments are very much appreciated.
We look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday 12th August, come and be part of Europes oldest and largest Reunion and lets make some more lasting memories along the way.
On the 22nd May 2013 the wrestling world went into mourning at the loss of its biggest legend of all time when Mick McManus sadly passed away aged 92. Although Mick had been of ill health for a short time his death came as a great shock and saddened wrestling fans around the World.
On the day of Micks death the Reunion were inundated with requests for interviews and statements from media around the world and in one day dealt with over 150 enquiries such was Mick popularity, for a man who had been retired from the ring for over 30 years this went to show just how much he meant to everyone.
Mick McManus has left a legacy in the wrestling business that will never be equalled, he was THE star of the ring and even long after his retirement was in high demand. When Mick retired from in ring action he continued to give his time to the business and was always willing to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of stars. Even in his later years when it was obvious that he was getting frail Mick continued to be a great supporter of the Reunion and was always the first to offer help and advice on any matters that may have arisen.
Mick McManus will never be forgotten, on the anniversary of his death wrestling websites and social media are paying their own tributes to the great man, something that we are sure will continue for many years to come.
For a full tribute to Mick McManus please read his obituary which can be found in the relevant section above, this gives a real insight into not only Mick McManus the wrestler but Mick McManus the man. You can also read his Hall of Fame induction again this can be found in the relevant section.
this years Reunion on the 12th August many of Micks wrestling items
will once again be on display and over the years have proved very popular with everyone in attendance..
On the 22nd May we will always pay tribute to the greatest legend of the ring, the man that was.......MICK MCMANUS
The saying is that time stands still for no man and it is hard to believe that many of the great stars from the golden era of British wrestling are now in their 80s and for a limited few 90s as is the case for the Dazzler Joe Cornelius who has reached this great age.
Joe Cornelius was born on the 1st May 1928 and was destined to make a huge name for himself in the wrestling world.
Joe was trained by Tony Mancelli and our very own President Joe D'Orazio and made his debut not in the UK but in Germany when he was a last minute substitute for Joe D'Orazio.
Back in the UK Joe was making a name for himself as one of the countries leading heavyweight wrestlers facing all comers including the legendary heavyweight Bert Assirati. It is reported that in 1953 at the Wimbledon Palais Joe challenged Assirati to a match and there is a record that the two did meet in 1955 but Joe, like many before him, ended up losing the match by a knockout.
Although Joe was in high demand for appearances he kept his feet firmly on the ground and opened a hairdressing salon where he would work during the day and then wrestle in the evenings, this suited Joe well.
was a regular visitor abroad wrestling some of the top heavyweights in
the World and was a successful author writing his own memoirs entitled
Thumbs Up which tells Joes life story warts and all.
Joe won the British Southern Heavyweight title which he retained until his retirement in 1967.
his retirement Joe went to live in Cyprus but has been a regular
visitor to the Reunion every August where he gets to catch up with his
fellow professionals and of course his trainer Joe D'Orazio.
In recent years Joe has returned to the UK where he now resides in Brighton. Sadly Joe has recently suffered from ill health which has prevented him from joining us at the Reunion but we still keep in contact with him and he remains in an upbeat mood.
At the age of 90 we salute Joe Cornelius, he will forever be the Dazzler and we wish him all the very best as he celebrates this milestone birthday.
World of Sport Wrestling is to return to British television screens - 30 years after the Saturday staple ended.
The new 10-part series will air on ITV and recording will begin next month at Epic Studios in Norwich.
The original show made stars of wrestlers Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Mick McManus in the 1980s.
An ITV spokesman said the series would feature "the UK's biggest and best pro-wrestlers".
WOS Wrestling was scheduled to return to Saturday afternoons in 2017 but was halted over contractual issues.
Jeff Jarrett, co-founder of Impact Wrestling and a former star of WWE wrestling, told BBC Radio 4's World at One at the time that wrestling was "Shakespeare to the masses". He said the UK enjoys "an enormous independent wrestling scene".
In the new series, performers will take part in "various, intense bouts", with one wrestler taking home the WOS Wrestling Championship belt every week, ITVs spokesman said.
Tom McLennan, creative director at ITV Studios Entertainment, said: "There is a massive indie wrestling scene in the UK and a strong nostalgia for the wrestling shows of our youth.
"WOS Wrestling will combine the best of the past with incredible talent available today to make a fun, exciting and thrilling show that the whole family can enjoy."
The first matches will be recorded before a live studio audience in Norwich on 10, 11 and 12 May.
The announcement made by ITV surprised many as it was thought that any further wrestling projects with the broadcaster had been shelved indefinitely. ITVs choice of venue was also subject to a social media frenzy due to the fact that Norwich based promoter Ricky Knight has promoted shows at Epic Studios for many years. However, after meeting with executives at both Epic Studios and ITV it has been agreed that Rickys World Association of Wrestling will continue to promote their shows at the venue and Ricky himself wishes all those involved with the ITV shows the very best.
WOS Wrestling will air later in 2018 and we eagerly await the outcome, as its seconds away round 2 for ITV and WOS Wrestling what will this new series bring.....only time will tell !!!!.
The story of Bruno Sammartino is the story of the American dream.
During his childhood in the small Italian mountain town of Abruzzi, Italy, Bruno Sammartino heard stories about how the streets in the United States were paved with gold. Though he believed it literally at the time, Sammartino would experience fortune and fame first-hand as the longest-reigning WWE Champion and the most beloved competitor in the history of the squared circle.
Life wasn’t always so glorious for The Italian Superman. Bruno’s brother and sister both passed away at young ages, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces seized their town, but Bruno persevered. He and his mother hid in a mountain called Valla Rocca during the German occupation and eventually joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.
Sammartino began lifting weights as a young man and grew to become one of the strongest men on the planet. After setting a world record in 1959 by bench-pressing 565 pounds, Sammartino caught the eye of Vincent J. McMahon, and became a sports-entertainer.
Bruno became an overnight sensation, connecting with not only fellow Italians, but also Latinos, Greeks and Jews, successfully bridging the gap in America’s melting pot of wrestling fans. His legend continued to grow on May 17, 1963, when Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever WWE Champion in front of nearly 20,000 fans at the old Madison Square Garden.
Bruno held the WWE Championship for nearly eight years — by far the longest reign of all time, and a record for all professional wrestling champions, no matter the organization. A household name all over the country, the beloved hero defended his title in legendary rivalries against WWE Hall of Famers Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George “The Animal” Steele.
In early 1968, Sammartino headlined the first wrestling event at the brand-new Madison Square Garden, just eight days after it opened. The Garden truly was the house that Bruno built, as he sold it out an astounding 187 times. When he lost the title to Ivan Koloff in 1971, grown men in the crowd were seen weeping, but on Dec. 10, 1973, Sammartino became the first two-time WWE Champion and held the title for an additional three-and-a-half years.
On Aug. 9, 1980, Sammartino defeated his former protégé, Larry Zbyszko, inside a steel cage at New York City’s Shea Stadium in front of more than 35,000 people. The heated grudge match broke box-office records for wrestling events, and Bruno retired from the ring the following year.
Bruno returned to WWE in the mid-80s as a broadcaster alongside Mr. McMahon and as a mentor for his son David, who was just beginning his grappling career. Now known as The Living Legend, Bruno also engaged in several rivalries with a generation of WWE’s greatest villains, including “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and The Honky Tonk Man.
The star power and influence of Sammartino was exemplified by the fact that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was the 188th and final time that Sammartino headlined and sold out Madison Square Garden.
The British Wrestlers Reunion send our condolences to Brunos family and friends at this very sad time.
Zoltan had his first wrestling encounter in 1954 when he joined the amateur ranks where he had a modicum of success, However, on arriving in England Zoltan focused solely on becoming a professional wrestler and was soon competing on a regular basis up and down the UK. Initially Zoltan was wrestling for independent promoters under the name of Zoltan Zimmerman but his ring skills were soon being noticed by the promoters at Joint Promotions and soon Zoltan had not only a change of employer but a change of name as well.
Despite the fact that Zoltan rarely broke the rules he never really received the cheers of the fans, mainly due to the fact that due to his weight he was often opposing fan favourites. Zoltan was a very skilful wrestler who was an master of the submission hold and had many great matches with the men mentioned above together with the likes of Jim Breaks, Al Miquet etc.
On the 25th May 1963 Zoltan was given his first taste of national exposure when he wrestled Cyanide Sid Cooper from Wembley in the annual F A Cup Final Day wrestling show. Although Zoltan lost the bout by two falls to one it was a great learning curve for him and Zoltan went on to regularly appear on the itv wrestling shows up until it was removed from the television screens in 1988.
On the 18th June 1969 Zoltan was given the opportunity to wrestle for the British Lightweight Championship in a match held at Sheffield against the then Champion Jim Breaks. As expected this was a hard fought contest with both men more than capable of winning the bout. However, Zoltan was triumphant and won the title and belt. Zoltan held the title for twelve months before losing it in June 1970 to Jon Cortez but regained it from Cortez a month later. Zoltan would then hold the title until the 12th May 1971 when he was to lose it to Johnny Saint in a bout held again in Sheffield. This was to be the final time Zoltan was to hold this championship.
Throughout the 1970s Zoltan was a well known and established star in the UK mainly thanks to his British Lightweight Championships and was now recognised as one of the greatest lightweight wrestlers in the World.
Zoltan Boscik retired from the ring in the late 1980s and for many years has resided in Christchurch, New Zealand. Sadly, Zoltan is now suffering from Alzheimers Desease although despte this can still recall his wrestling days with great enthusiasm.
Zoltan sends his very best wishes to all of his British fans and is very pleased that we all still remember him.
We would like to thank Zoltans wife Suzanne for the photographs shown which have been forwarded to us by Johnny Kidd.
'I received the sad news about Mick just days before I left for my
birthday in Tokyo but could´nt post it at that time.
After talking to his wife Wendy she said Mick wanted to leave without any fuss, to be laid to rest with just his Family in attendance, and out of respect for both Mick & Wendy. I agreed not to make it public.
Mick was one of my closest friends,along with Jeff Kaye, we worked together in Germany for many years, they both had the best understanding of Pro-Wrestling that I´ve ever known and between them trained not only many top English but also many Japanese and U.S Wrestlers,ask Vader or Scot Hall or Masa Chono just to name a few and to CWA he was irreplacable.
The photo above of Mick says everything about him,he had a tremendous sense of humor, I have so many genuine stories that I could tell you would cry and laugh at the same time.
I´m sure that at the Reunion a lot of you will have some stories to tell about Mick,lets all raise a glass to him in memory of a true Legend !
RIP Mick ,You will remain in our hearts forever'.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to say how pleased and proud we are that Judo/Lord
Alfred Hayes has posthumously been inducted into the WWE Hall of
Fame 2018 Legacy Wing.
World Wrestling Entertainment have made the
following statement confirming Alfreds induction:-
Lord Alfred Hayes
While most members of the WWE Universe remember Lord Alfred Hayes as a jovial commentator during WWE’s boom in the 1980s, the Brit was a feared competitor inside the ring before he stepped behind the microphone.A black belt in judo, he traded on his martial arts expertise in his early years as a competitor in his homeland of England, competing as “Judo” Al Hayes and using chops and throws to neutralize his opposition. He made the journey across the pond to America in the 1970s and greatly changed his style between the ropes. Adopting the persona of a British aristocrat, Lord Alfred Hayes was born. Looking down upon America’s people (and its tea), Hayes eventually became a manager in several territories, including the AWA and Championship Wrestling from Florida, where the posh aristocrat managed the likes of WWE Hall of Famers Jimmy Valiant and Nikolai Volkoff and The Masked Superstar, among others.
We would like to start by wishing each and every one of our members a very Happy Easter and that whatever you have planned you have an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend.
We are now just over four
months away from the wrestling social event of the year as Europes
oldest and largest wrestling Reunion will return on Sunday 12th August
for an unprecedented 27th year.
Such is the continued popularity of the British Wrestlers Reunion that wrestlers, officials and fans will gather at The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent again this year which will include an array of World, European and British champions and we can confirm that guests will be travelling from the USA, Canada and from various destinations throughout Europe as well as from around the UK to join us for what will be another memorable occasion.
As always a number of events are planned for the day itself as various awards will be presented to those who have made their own contribution to the wrestling industry over the years. An elite number of wrestlers will be inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame and Colin Joynson will lead the tributes to those grapplers who have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky over the last 12 months followed by the ten bell salute.
This year we will once again be
joined by resident vocalist Barry Howard together with a very special
guest (more to follow later) who will entertain you all throughout the
day. Last years wrestlers memorabilia was a huge hit with our guests and
so items belonging to Mick McManus, Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy, Wayne
Bridges, Mike Marino and others will be on display alongside some
further items which have not been seen in public for many years. This
memorabilia will be housed in a specially designated area due to the
amount we have to display and so as not to take up valuable space in the
garden for those in attendance. Ever present Roy Smith and Ray Clark
will be selling various wrestling items on our behalf and a raffle will
be held with some great prizes to be won. Food and drink will also be
available to purchase and our very popular Souvenir Programme will be
produced once again for 2018 and this will be available on the day and
also afterwards via our website. In addition to all of this a Reunion
This year, as in previous years, there will be a private area where wrestlers can go to chat to their friends and former colleagues should they so wish.
Over the coming weeks we will be making further announcements right here and via our facebook page (British Wrestling, the Glory Years) so make sure that you check back on a regular basis for all the up to the minute news.
We thank you all for your continued support and hope that many of you will join us at the Ring of Friendship on the 12th August, remember this is a free event and everyone whether you are involved in the wrestling business or a fan are invited, we welcome everyone no matter what and you will all receive a warm greeting like no other.
On Saturday 28th April for the first time in over 15 years the Superstars of Rumble Wrestling promotions will be appearing at Edenbridge Leisure Centre.
The Wrestlers will be getting ready to Rumble with its live body slamming family entertainment show for one night only will see solo matches followed at the end of the night when all the wrestlers will be in the ring for an “over the top rope Rumble” where its friend v friend and foe v foe with the last man standing the winner. The two hour show sees Doors Open at 5.30pm with Bell Time at 6pm.
Former Heavyweight Champion, Londoner James Mason will be sure to be one of the fans favourites but the crowd are sure to boo the Giant 6ft 7 in Mighty Royal Oak while the overseas Mr USA who enters the ring to Born in the USA theme with his flag waving stars and stripe flag. It will be an action packed show which the kids as well as the adults will love.
There will be a chance to meet and greet the wrestlers at the end of the show, plus lots of Wrestling merchandise to buy including the Giant Foam hands.
Child and OAP’ Tickets start from £10 with adults at £12 with Special Front Row ringside at £15 - for in and on sale by calling 0121 472 6688 or by visiting www.theticketsellers.co.uk
As Big Daddy he was one of the most famous wrestlers ever to step through the ropes and now, 25 years after the famous Yorkshireman last graced the squared circle his granddaughter, Eleanor Wade, is following in his footsteps and has entered the ranks of professional wrestling.
Eleanor, who for the last year has been trained by none other than the former seven time World Mid Heavyweight Champion Marty Jones made her debut at a show promoted by Marty on Saturday 24th February at the Royton Band Club in Royton, Lancashire. Eleanor opposed another young up and coming star from the Jones academy by the name of Joe Cass and both excelled before a sell out crowd all enjoying the next generation of wrestling star.
The bout was well received with all in attendance commenting on how good both wrestlers were considering their young age and there is no doubt that with the continued experience and training being provided by Marty all are hopeful that both will have a long and successful career in the wrestling business, one that will take them around the World and see them become household names like Eleanors very own grandfather.
The British Wrestlers Reunion wish not only Eleanor and Joe all the very best but all the other trainees at not only Martys who also include the two nephews of the great Tommy Billington but the other wrestling training facilities around the UK, these are the next generation of wrestling star and the ones that will continue the tradition of the UK having the best wrestlers in the World.
Implant is set in Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire: a place where people tend to keep to themselves. A death they can understand. A murder they can tolerate. But a crucifixion, well that’s something else.
Monday morning, as the clock strikes 9:00, Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly come to the end of the line, a series of puzzles they have been trying to solve for six hours, which has led them to the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.
Above his head are two plain white envelopes. They do not contain any answers, only further problems.
The scar however, hides a very sinister secret, and Gardener and Reilly think the death may have something to do with organ trafficking.
But they are wrong!
Alex Wilson is a well-known drug dealer, and they begin their investigation by arresting Jackie Pollard – another drug dealer known to the local police – found outside the shop.
Within twenty-four hours, they have one body, one suspect – with a motive but no evidence – and a number of other possible suspects.
But they’re all missing.
With all the information they have, the detectives consider the murder to be drug related: a deal that has probably gone to the wall, with someone seeking revenge.
But they are wrong!
Within forty-eight hours in, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims: no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.
Gardener and Reilly now realize that it’s time to answer one very important question. Considering everything that has happened, are the residents of Bramfield – who can understand a death and tolerate a murder – actually prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?
Rays latest book is published in August and we are sure that he will be bringing a few copies with him to this years Reunion on the 12th August where anyone wishing so can purchase from him and get personally signed by a man who is fast becoming one of the most popular and most read authors in the UK.
Lets get ready to rumble!!!!!!!!
Watch the brand new trailer below for a British Comedy about a group of 1980s wrestlers who come out of retirement to try to save their community when their beloved local pub is threatened with closure.
Walk like a Panther will be released into cinemas on the 9th March 2018.....got to be worth seeing surely ??????
After his flirtation with boxing, George decided to study physical education, fitness, stretching and weight lifting. He also studied Ju Jitsu, self defence and yoga in great detail. The Yoga may go some way to explaining George’s famous flexibility and some of the weird positions he put himself into while escaping from holds, bamboozling his opponents. and entertaining the fans.
In 1943, George enlisted in the Royal Navy, where he began to wrestle competitively. In 1946 George left the Navy (he trained as a mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm) and it was at this time he decided to become a professional wrestler. George’s major problem was his height, 5’ 6" and his weight at the time, of around 9½ stone. Most good judges thought he was too small to become a professional wrestler. Keen to prove people wrong, George arranged to meet George de Relwyskow, the famous wrestling promoter, in Dundee. It was George de Relwyskow who gave George his first opportunity to pursue his chosen career of professional wrestling.
In May 1947 George Kidd competed in a tournament in Edinburgh and defeated Tony Lawrence to claim the Scottish lightweight title. Before he won this title George had fought 60 contests losing only 10. In the famously cold winter of 1947, he decided to go to Bradford to meet Norman Morrell (the ex-Olympic wrestler who competed in the Berlin games of 1936, and went on to promote). George went to Morrell’s gym in Bradford where he was once again ridiculed for being so small.
George had heard that kind of comment before and decided to challenge, a still reasonably fit, Norman Morrell to a few rounds in the gym. Within minutes of entering the ring , George was caught in a face bar hold and he struggled hard to escape until he heard something crack! The training bout ended suddenly with Morrell apologising and making it clear that he was greatly impressed by George offering to train and coach him. George worked with Morrell for 18 months – he claimed it was the hardest period of his career. Every night Norman made George do 100 bridges and by the time his training was finished, George’s neck measured 17½ inches.
At Morrell’s gym one of George’s tutors was the British lightweight champion of the day Joe Reid, and during a non-title fight with George, Joe made it clear that no mercy would be shown. However, George soon managed to apply a figure four-leg lock on Joe, but Joe would not submit. This resulted in Joe’s leg being badly injured. Joe recovered well and eventually lost his British title to Jack Dempsey (later, the long reigning British welterweight champion).
In 1948, George fought Jack Dempsey in a gruelling match, to win the British Lightweight title. George now set his sights on the European crown. In May 1949 George travelled to Paris to compete for the European Championship. George beat all comers in a tournament and returned with the European Lightweight title. This left only one title to aim at …..Champion of the World.
The man generally recognised as the world lightweight champion at that time was Mexican, Rudy Quarez. The bout was arranged and George eventually defeated Quarez. Annoyingly, some important wrestling associations of the day, most notably the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA), refused to recognise George’s win. The spectacular Frenchman Rene Ben Chemoul, stood between George and world-wide recognition as lightweight champion, or at least as close to world-wide recognition as it ever gets in professional wrestling.
George wanted to take on this final leg of his relentless pursuit to become recognised as world champion throughout the wrestling world and, in February 1950, Morrell arranged for George to fight Chemoul in Dundee. Kidd claims to have spotted that Chemoul had a pattern of set moves and George began to anticipate what would come next. George managed to defeat the Frenchman and complete his quest for the title. For the next 20 years and more, George successfully defended his world lightweight championship title against approximately 50 different challengers. Among the greatest challenges came from Adrian Street and Jim Breaks.
George’s last bout was in 1976 and he retired from professional wrestling still claiming the World Lightweight title. George passed on some of his expertise to other wrestlers as he approached retirement, most famously to Johnny Saint.
One of the major highlights of his career was wrestling in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Albert Hall in 1963. George was awarded Grampian TV Personality of the Year in 1965 and was honoured by an award from his home town of Dundee. In his retirement George supported Scottish youth and on 5th January 1998, aged 72, he passed away. Very few wrestlers have come close to George Kidd for skill, agility, flexibility, tenacity, inventiveness and single-minded determination to get to the top and stay there, a true great in the history of professional wrestling.
Many wrestlers have claimed that George was the best wrestler they had ever seen and few would argue with this. George has left a legacy in wresting that will live on forever and 20 years after his passing he is still fondly remembered by all those that knew him.
As we end one year and start another the British Wrestlers Reunion would like to wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and hope that 2018 is a good year for you all.
As we enter 2018 we look forward to our Reunion which will be in its 27th year and will take place on Sunday 12th August at the home of the wrestling Reunion The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent. As in previous years we hope that many of you will join us from various destinations around the World to celebrate wrestling both past and present and we can promise you that it will certainly be something you will remember and enjoy.
Throughout the year we will be updating everyone regarding the Reunion via this website and our facebook page British Wrestling, the Glory Years so please check these out to ensure you do not miss any of the exciting news we have to bring to you.
In other news, one of our great supporters will be making an appearance tonight (Sunday 31st December) on the BBCs Antiques Roadshow with his collection of wrestling memorabilia in a special 'Best of British' edition. The show will air on BBC1 at 8.00pm.
In closing we thank you all for your continued support during 2017, all the positive comments we receive are very much appreciated and we hope that you will continue to support us all in 2018.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to wish all of our members around the World a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
This year has been another great for us and we thank each and every one of you for your continued support. With many great things planned for 2018 we look forward to reliving the glory years of British wrestling for many years to come.
We are very pleased that the Reunions Ring of Friendship continues to grow and the great comments that we receive throughout the whole year from you all are very much appreciated.
Happy Christmas to you all and here is to 2018 and continued success.
few weeks ago we brought you the news that legendary MC and referee
Gordon Pryor had suffered a stroke whilst on holiday. We are now
pleased to report that Gordon is well on the way to recovery and has
sent us the following message:-
'Hello everyone, Very many thanks for all your messages of best wishes following my stroke which happened on a cruise ship at the end of Sept. After 2.1/2 weeks in hospital in Portugal and a further 1 week when back in England, I'am pleased to say I seem to be getting better each day. Once again many thanks to everyone for your concern, your wishes did help to cheer me up. Best Wishes Gordon Pryor'
We are sure that Gordon will be back to full fitness in no time at all and we wish him well on his continued recovery.
On the 2nd December 1997 the wrestling world lost without doubt one of its biggest stars, a man who 20 years after his death is still the first name mentioned when the glory years of British wrestling are discussed, this man is Shirley Crabtree known the world over as Big Daddy. On the anniversary of his death we here at the Reunion remember the big man from Halifax.
On the 14th November 1930 Shirley Crabtree was born, the first of three brothers who ultimately would all become involved in the world of professional wrestling.
On leaving school Shirley Crabtree was initially employed in the textile industry in his hometown of Halifax then as a lifeguard and a rugby league player for Bradford Northern before doing his national service with the Coldstream Guards. Crabtree trained at the local gymnasium where he met legendary promoter Norman Morrell and was introduced into the world of professional wrestling. During this period (1950s) wrestling was mainly a seasonal sport operating from September through to May when a large contingent of wrestlers then left for Europe, Crabtree included.
Crabtrees first bout was at James Hall, Newcastle where he faced the experienced welshman Sandy Orford. Crabtree was easily beaten in this match but was not deterred proceeding to face such legendary names as Rough House Alf Rawlings, Billy Joyce, George Nuttall, Dai Sullivan, Ernest Baldwin, Killer Ken Davies (father of Gwyn Davies) and the great Jack Pye (pictured). During this time both of Crabtrees brothers, Max and Brian entered the professional ring and the brothers were known on occasions to form a tag team where they had a certain amount of success
After returning from National Service Crabtree ventured more into Europe wrestling under the name of the Blond Adonis and later the Battling Guardsman. During this time he had successful tours in Hamburg, West Berlin and various venues in France. His biggest achievement came in the late 1950s when appearing at the Palais des Sport in Paris he took on the much more experienced European Heavyweight Champion Ivar Martinsen of Denmark beating the Dane and claiming the European Heavyweight Championship and belt.
Back in the UK Crabtree was to win the BWF British Heavyweight Title and Belt by defeating Mighty Strangler Bright, this was some accomplishment as Bright had defeated the great Bert Assirati. Crabtree continued to wrestle in England and Europe during the 1960s but by 1966 became a part time wrestler having only a handful of bouts between this time and the birth of Big Daddy.
In the mid 1970s wrestling was changing and Max Crabtree, who by this time had retired from the ring and was building a name for himself as a promoter, decided to bring Shirley back into the wrestling business on a full time basis and re-christened him as Big Daddy. Initially Daddy had a number of solo bouts and a feud with the masked Kendo Nagasaki who he famously unmasked in a televised match. It was the arrival at Joint Promotions of Giant Haystacks that would change Big Daddys wrestling career yet again. Daddy was teamed up with Giant Haystacks to form a tag team weighing in excess of 50 stone. This team was successful and had a number of televised matches. It wasnt until 1977 that this tag team had run its course and a brainwave by Max Crabtree to split the team up created one of the biggest rivalries in British wrestling history. This rivalry lasted from 1977 until Big Daddys retirement in 1993.
Unlike the days of Shirley Crabtree, Big Daddy was now an ageing man and solo bouts were fast becoming a thing of the past with the majority of his matches being in tag team action. Big Daddy teamed with such great stars of the day as World Heavyweight Champion Wayne Bridges, British and former World Champion Tony St Clair and World Mid Heavyweight Champion Marty Jones as well as young up and coming stars as Dynamite Kid, Roy/Steve/Wiliam Regal, Young David, Danny Boy Collins to name but a few. Daddys opponents were also few and far between with him mainly facing the likes of Giant Haystacks, King Kong Kirk, Scrubber Daly, and the man who wrestled Daddy more than any other wrestler Tony Banger Walsh.
the late 1970s and early 1980s wrestling saw a surge in popularity and a
lot of this was down to Big Daddy. Daddys appearances at halls would
inevitbaly be a sell out and he became one of the most recognised and
well known faces in Britain. Even many years after his death his name
is normally the first one mentioned when the glory years of British
Wrestling are mentioned.
Such was Big Daddys popularity during the 1980s that he was in high demand and appeared on childrens shows such as Tiswas and Magpie, did an advert for Daddies Sauce and prime time shows such as Whats My Line and was the subject of This is Your Life (only the second wrestler ever to receive this honour). Big Daddy also released his own recording of We Shall Not Be Moved which was played every time he went to the ring, had two annuals published in 1983 and 1984 and had his own comic strip in Buster comic. Big Daddy was also in high demand for charity work and made many appearances for various charities.
During the Big Daddy years he appeared many times at the Royal Albert Hall and on the also highly rated Cup Final Day wrestling programme. Big Daddys most famous matches were infact solo matches against Canadian John Quinn at the Wembley Arena in 1979 (when it was estimated that 10,000 fans were in attendance) and against his arch rival Giant Haystacks in 1981. Daddy won both matches in record time, the build ups to these matches being far more impressive than the matches themselves.
After itv axed professional wrestling in 1988 Big Daddy continued to tour the halls of Britain making over 200 appearances a year right up to his retirement aged 63 in 1993. Daddy was plagued by ill health towards the end of his career suffering from Bells Palsy and whilst many thought that he should have retired at this point he was given the all clear to wrestle by his doctor and continued for many more years.
Big Daddy retired from wrestling in 1993 and lived out the remaining years of his life quietly in his hometown of Halifax. Unfortunately the glitz and glamour of Big Daddy had long gone and he was again dogged by ill health. In 1997 Big Daddy suffered a major stroke and although he battled this for 8 weeks this was one battle he was not going to win and he died on the 2nd December 1997 aged 67.
The wrestling world have always been divided over Big Daddy and what he did for the wrestling business, Whatever peoples opinion though Big Daddy will always be remembered as one of the biggest names in British Wrestling History and his name and legacy will live on forever more.
In 2014 at the annual Reunion Big Daddy was awarded a Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished wrestling career and this was accepted by his daughter Jane Wade.
BY DAVID GENTLE.
A couple of years ago, when Mick was at the British Wrestlers Reunion at the Bridges pub, South Darenth. I asked for a photo of him, and of course asked him to smile, and he replied in his gravely old voice, ”I can’t smile, it would ruin my reputation”. That was Mick, villain to the end. He must have decided right at the beginning of his career in the square ring that he was never going to be a “baby face” and the hard man suited his real and ring persona well.
Mick had a long and fruitful life, dying 22nd May 2013, age 93. He was born on 11th January 1920 in New Cross, South London, and on leaving school whilst working for a firm of printers, he began training to become a wrestler at the John Ruskin Amateur Wrestling Club, later teaching the fine arts of the sport to R.A.F. personal in WW11.With growing strength and skills he turned professional wrestler circa 1948. I asked him who was his inspiration and trainer and he mentioned a famous physical culturist and trainer Fred Unwin, who’s adverts for muscle building and learning fighting arts appeared in the bodybuilding journals of the day. Mick Mc Manus’s first professional bout took place during a posting to Australia.
I first saw the young Mc Manus at the old football stadium, The Dell, around the 1948. Friday night watching live wrestling at the Dell was a regular part of our weekly routine and the promoter was Dale Martin. It was here I was lucky to see many legendary wrestlers, admittedly past their youth, such as Primo Carnera, Jim Londos The Golden Greek, Jack Doyle, The Angel, many Terrible Turks, Bert Assirati before he travelled to the far East and many more including the Robinson brothers, also on the card was as introduced to us, “A promising young wrestler from London Mick Mc Manus” The little, but nicely formed Lou Marco, usually took the place of the “third man” with his distinct counting style, a-one aaa, a- two.aaa, rarely reaching the three and having a definite problem with his eyesight according the regular, and highly knowledgeable crowd. Perhaps he should have gone to “Spec Savers”? We knew what a Boston crab or half Nelson was long before Kent Walton ever came on the scene. Walton had to be coached into the various nomenclature of the game, although he did make some hold names up himself which soon become established to his massive T.V audience.
Although no giant, just 5ft 6ins (1.68m) and 12 and half stone (79k). With time Mick’s reputation as a villain grew, soon he become “The Man We Love To Hate”. Winning most of his matches, helped along no doubt by the fact he soon became the booker or matchmaker for the Dale Martin Promotions. He also had a wrestling book published in 1970 and also appeared many times on T.V in other slots as well as the wrestling eg. The Generation Game, as an expert on porcelain, one of his hobbies being a collector, also mixing with celebrities of the day such as the Beatles on the Eamon Andrews show. Later, he along with his wrestling line up, even met Royalty in the shape of the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Hall. It is no secret The Queen loved to watch the wrestling on T.V, along with the millions of her subjects who preferred the regular excitement and story lines of the men of the mat over the more usual football matches. The more he wrestled the more he became a celebrity in his own right along with working for several charities. The wrestling game itself insured he had to travel extensively for matches and publicity, he estimated travels of 1,000 to 1,500 miles a week, but it still left him time to also be a regular correspondent for The Sun newspaper with his column. When not wrestling he collected antiques, and loved his game of golf. He also took his wife Barbara and son Tony on many holidays, preferring the sunshine of Italy and Spain. Maybe it was the pep pills he also marketed that gave Mick so much energy?
Television brought to the millions Mick’s acting ability to arouse them into almost hating his ring performances. His cheating behind the referees back, his low and dirty blows and teasing of the audience arousing their emotions. Although he did own several titles, his skills were not as those of some other wrestlers, but Mick’s love of forearm smashes and other disputed methods to overcome his ring opponents brought him his infamy. There was also a definite danger of being seriously hurt by his audience, let alone his fellow wrestlers. Mick however always remained the perfect professional and valuable as Joint Promotions soon realised. Many matches were still to follow.
To attempt to list all of Mick’s fights is out of the question, it must run into thousands out of which several were his genuine friends and often ring partners and several were his truly hated opponents. Wrestlers are only human and have human like and dislikes. Often their egos would not let them run with the “card” presenting problems and at times, although, rarely, genuine “shoot outs”. One recorded event is the unscheduled “beating of Mick by promoter Norman Morrell’s man Peter Preston, the heavier man, Preston refused to go with the plan and be beaten, so Mick got himself disqualified by choice. Thus listing one of the few time he was “beaten.” Best known of all to T.V fans, and at it’s peak, T.V brought in over 20 million viewers, is the feud between him and the pig tailed Jackie Pallo, which lasted both in and outside of the ring. Micks career on the box lasted over 26 years. Even at the reunions when most of the attending wrestlers had long quit the game, Mc Manus and Pallo made no attempt to be friendly, unlike most of the other ring legends and now ancient warriors, with their common experiences of the mat game. He retired from active wrestling in 1982. Now when Mick attended the meet ups, it was no longer necessary to carry on any pretence and yes, Mick actually did smile and mix with his fans and “Foes” in appreciating no doubt to the long double edge of love and hate support he gained in his unique life in British wrestling.
Manus died 22nd May 2013, he was 93 years old .Mick’s funeral
was at the Woking Crematorium , which
was packed with family, fans, wrestlers and the press. His son Tony gave a heart wrenching speech,
along with tributes from Frank Rimer
and Bill/Wayne Bridges. Wrestling
was Mick’s life and he will always
be remembered by fans and wrestlers alike with his special “boot black, Nero
hairstyle, king of the forearm slams, Cauli-flower ears, the Man They loved To
David Gentle© 2017. for the Britishwrestlersreunion. With thanks too many sources, including Bob Kirkwood, Wrestling Heritage, John Lister, Frank Rimer, Tony St Clair.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are shocked and saddened to learn that Paul Jerome a.k.a. Ponsonby Pendleton Pratt has passed away suddenly following an epileptic fit
Inside the ring he was an extrovert
character who brought joy to thousands but outside he was a lovely
young man ,shy and retiring with beautiful manners and it is so sad to be taken
so savagely without warning.
Paul was very often seen alongside veteran wrestler Jon Ritchie who has today paid his own tribute to his dear friend as follows:-
'Absolutely in pieces, lost the best friend I ever had. I'm for once lost for words, my life won't be the same again a friend to me and my family a business partner, a great comedy actor. Someone who went from being a non sports person and became an amateur and shoot wrestling champion at many different weights.
We remained good friends till the end.
Taken far far to young I'll never forget you and the laughs and sadness we shared a big part of me has died with you. Bless you mate RIP PJ'.
LDN owner Sanjay Bagga who Paul worked for during his career has also paid tribute:-
Totally gutted and upset to hear former LDN Manager Paul Jerome known to our fans as Ponsenby Pendleton Pratt has passed away. His loyalty and friendship to Jon Ritchie in and out of the Ring was something people can only hope for.
Away from the Ring PJ stuffed from epilepsy but he never let it stop at training or on the shows.
RIP Paul so sorry you went at such an early age
Our thoughts are with his Family and his Father who found him two days later at this very sad time.
Paul has been added to our 'dressing room in the sky' section on the website and may he R.I.P.
They are two of the most popular and famous wrestlers to have stepped through the ropes in the last forty years and have a rivalry which stretches back throughout their entire careers. Now, on Sunday 29th October at the Shoreham Centre in Sussex, this rivalry will come to an end as Superstar Mal Sanders faces his old foe Johnny Kidd for the final time in a bout being promoted by LDN Wrestling.
With Mal Sanders announcing his retirement from the ring this week (his final bout will take place on the 1st December) this will be the final time that these two men face each other in an LDN ring, a promotion where both men have had many bouts over the last ten years. LDN Promoter Sanjay Bagga has made the following announcement on this bout for the ages:-
‘After a 40 year plus career the Mouth of the South, Superstar Mal Sanders
is retiring from the ring this year and in just over two weeks he will
compete in his last ever LDN bout.
The former European Middleweight Champion who famously defeated Mick McManus back in the days of when British Wrestling attracted millions of viewers each and every Saturday afternoon will be retiring in his home county of Sussex.
We wanted to pay respect and give him one of his best rivals as his final opponent.
We have managed to bring out of retirement for a special one night only contest former ITV wrestler and LDN British Champion, arguably one of the greatest technical wrestlers of our the last 20 years Mr Smooth Johnny Kidd!
As an added bonus for this bout British Wrestlers Reunion Organiser Frank Rimer will be the special guest Master of Ceremonies.
This bout will be the end of an era as Johnny (who retired last year) and Mal are literally the last
of the legends still competing today, we are sure that this will be an
emotional night for all concerned but are sure that the bout will be a fitting
tribute to both wrestlers and we send our very best wishes for all concerned.
Tickets are available online at: https://ldnwrestling.ticketlight.co.uk/order/tickets/13328998/ldn-wrestling-the-shoreham-centre-2017-10-29-15-00-00
We were saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bobby Heenan regarded by many as the greatest manager in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 73.
With a career spanning more than four decades, Heenan was the “The Brain” behind some of the most prolific Superstars in sports-entertainment history. Heenan plied his trade as their mischievous manager by running his mouth on their behalf with a sarcastic wit considered among the best in the business.
Heenan named competitors under his guidance as the Heenan Family, a moniker meant to show the strength of their alliance over any opposition. Members of the Heenan Family in the AWA and WWE read like the who’s who of sports-entertainment, including Legends and WWE Hall of Famers such as Nick Bockwinkel, the Blackjacks, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Harley Race, and of course, the first WWE Hall of Famer, Andre the Giant, whom Heenan led to the ring at WrestleMania III before 93,173 fans.
As impossible as it may seem, Heenan’s overwhelming success as a manager was matched by that of his commentating career. Heenan’s constant verbal jousts with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund remain among the most memorable moments in sports-entertainment history. In fact, “The Brain” was so entertaining that "The Bobby Heenan Show" was also produced and was successful as well.
In addition, “The Brain” was part of the original broadcast team for Monday Night Raw in 1993, and also sat at the announce table for both Raw and WCW Monday Nitro.
Bobby had a career in the wrestling business that will never be equalled and his passing has sent shock waves around the World espite the fact that he had been unwell for many years.
We send our condolences to Bobby family and friends at this very sad time and may he now RIP.
above courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment
Malcolm Kirk was born on the 18th December 1936 in Pontefract, West Yorkshire although in his early days had no intention of taking the career that would lead him to stardom.
Initially, Mal worked as a coal miner and also played professional rugby for Featherstone Rovers, Castleford and Doncaster as well as being a doorman. Mal was also involved in judo and joined the Bramley Judo Club in Leeds and as a result of this he joined a local amateur wrestling club also in Leeds and although he was to have success in the amateur ranks it was to be the bright lights of the professional ring that would be Mals next course of action.
During the early 1960s Mal had a meeting with top promoter Norman Morrell. Mal was a big powerful man and it was apparent that due to this he could, if trained correctly, be a big star in the wrestling business. Norman Morrell could see this and offered Mal a contract. Mal knew that if he wanted to be a star he would have to train hard and this is what he intended to do. In view of the fact that he had previously played professional rugby he was already very fit and as he trained more in the professional wrestling ranks it wasnt long before he got noticed.
In 1969 Mal had a televised match against Albert 'Rocky' Wall, this was to be the start of many television appearnces that Mal would have up until 1987 during which time he used such ring names as Mucky Mal Kirk, Kojak Kirk and King Kong Kirk. The promoters also had another wrestler by the name of Paul Luty, an ideal tag team Partner for Mal and the two teamed up and travelled around the country taking on many of the top tag teams around at that time.
Due to his regular television appearances Mal was becoming a well known face and was soon travelling up and down the UK on a nightly basis taking on many of the greats such as Wayne Bridges, Wild Angus, Mike Marino, Pat Roach, Roy St Clair and Geoff Portz to name but a few. In 1971 Mal pinned Mike Marino in the Royal Albert Hall tournament and it wasnt long therefore before Mal was being noticed by the foreign promoters.
As the 1970s progressed Mal found himself wrestling more and more around the World. In 1973 and 1974 Mal wrestled in Canada where he won the Northern Provinces Championship and during the mid and late 1970s was a regular visitor to Austria and Germany where he had success in the 1977 Oldenburg Tournament and in 1978 the prestigious Bremen Tournament. Mal also had a long tour of the Middle East and India where again he had a great deal of success.
As the 1970s drew to a close Mals European wrestling appearances started to slow down. Although Mal did have a number of bouts for the British Heavyweight Championship he was not successful in these. By this time Mal was now a solid 25 stone and with his shaven head looked even more menacing that he had previously done. It was decided at this time that Mal would also cut back on his solo contests and he found himself more and more in tag team action partnering the likes of Giant Haystacks, Banger Walsh, John Quinn and Bruiser Muir. As Mal walked to the ring the chorus of boos would echo around the halls, Mal was the villain in the ring but was loved by everyone. He would often immobilise his opponents with his devastating guillotine elbow drop, a move that very few recovered from. Wrestling was seeing a resurgence in the UK at this point and Mal often found himself top of the bill in tag team action. Whilst he continued to have the odd solo bout it was tag team action that was now his mainstay and Mal continued to do this during most of the 1980s.
On the 24th August 1987 the wrestling world was shocked by the sudden death of Mal Kirk. It was during a tag match from Great Yarmouth that Mal suffered a heart attack and passed away shortly afterwards. The wrestling world was left in mourning at the news as one of the strongest men in the business had passed away.
Kirk was a gentle giant, the man he portrayed in the ring could not
have been more different from the man he was in real life, a family man,
a joker and liked by his fellow wrestlers and fans alike.
Kirk is sadly missed to this day and our thoughts are with his family and friends as we remember him 30 years after his passing.
The Ring of Friendship is something that is very important to us at the British Wrestlers Reunion and it is something that we abide by at all times.
As many of you will now know, over the years a number of Wrestlers Reunions have been set up and this year, apart from our own, we have seen Reunions held at Leeds, Manchester, Blackpool and Ayr. All Reunions are well attended and it is heart-warming that many of the great grapplers from years gone by still wish to attend these events ensuring that they thrive for many more years to come.
In June of this year it was the turn of our friends in Scotland to finally set up their own Reunion, whilst this has been something that has been discussed for quite a while time restrictions had meant that until now it had never materialised. However, this has now been corrected and on Sunday 25th June the first Wrestlers Reunion took place. Organised by our good friend Dale Storm there was a who’s who in attendance with over 40 wrestlers making the journey to celebrate not only Scottish but British wrestling, this was a great achievement for the inaugural event and can only mean that there are even better things to come in the following years.
At this years British Wrestlers Reunion we were very honoured to be joined by a number of wrestlers from North of the Border as Scott Thomson, Jim Starsky, Joe Hendry and Scottish Reunion founder Dale Storm all made the trip to Kent to support us. We are very grateful to these wrestlers for travelling such a distance and being so complimentary about our event.
Over the years we have presented awards to wrestlers,
officials and fans. However,
this year the tables were somewhat turned on us as Dale Storm took to the stage
to present us with an award on behalf of the Scottish Wrestlers Reunion. This is the first time that an award such as
this has been made to the Reunion and the fact that it was presented to us by a
fellow Reunion made it extra special for us.
The Award, which we are delighted to accept, will now take pride of place
at the Bridges for our guests to see on arrival.
We understand from Dale Storm that there will be another
Scottish Reunion in 2018 although no date has yet been set but as soon as we
are advised of this we will bring it to you.
We have, over the years, advertised all Reunions ensuring that the Ring
of Friendship is promoted around the UK and we are hopeful that some of our own
supporters from the South will continue to make the trips Northbound to support
our colleagues events.
Once again we would like to thank Dale Storm and the Scottish Reunion for their kind gesture and we look forward to supporting each other over the coming years.
To keep up todate with the Scottish Reunion they have recently set up a fantastic facebook page so please follow them at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1744940068880144/
(Dale Storm presents Reunion President Joe D'Orazio with an award from the Scottish Reunion)
Like most people, I remember parts of my childhood quite vivdly. Parents and teachers often told me, the years pass faster as you grow older. I never believed them. I do now. It was the 1970’s, and when I think long and hard enough, the memories from those care-free, halcyon days come flooding back. The popular bike of the time was the Raleigh Chopper: small tyre at the front, large at the back, three gears. Mine was purple, which was probably the psychedelic colour of the year. In 1975, Sir Clive Sinclair launched the Sinclair Black Prince watch, which had two black panels: pressing one obtained the time and date, resulting in a red LED display. The other was for show. It was groundbreaking. I went through a pair of batteries in less than a month. The Merseybeat sounds of the sixties faded as the seventies disco scene took over, producing unforgettable hits: Abba’s Dancing Queen, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, which has done for many a budding serial song murderer on the karaoki scene: and that legendary track by the Bee Gees, Stayin’ Alive, featured in the film, Saturday Night Fever. Jump suits, hot pants and flared trousers dominated the fashion. Everyone remembers some of the programs: Happy Days with the Fonz; MASH with Hawkeye, and Charlie’s Angels – who could forget those three?
But I’m sure I’d be right in stating that everyone remembered one program from that period: ITV’s World of Sport wrestling, which was either loved or hated. There were no in-betweens. For me, once having been bitten by the bug, my life had been taken over. Having passed my driving test I put thousands of miles a year on my late father’s car, traveling up and down the East Coast – the favourite haunt being The Spa at Bridlington every Monday night. It’s nearly thirty years since it left the TV screens, but the memories live on.
Sunday, August 13th 2017 saw the annual British Wrestlers Reunion. It didn’t feel like five minutes since the last one – proving what people used to say. A day when old friends and arch enemies of the canvas reunite to reminisce about a bygone era that we officially class as the good old days. We didn’t have mobile phones, computers, Ipads, or hybrid cars, and the word Brexit hadn’t been invented. For everyone attending, the mood is upbeat. Whatever problems we have now are forgotten for the day. Wrestlers greet each other not with a forearm smash but a handshake, a bear hug and a smile, as do the fans. As the eleven o’ clock bell strikes, the reunion starts. Many of yesterday’s legends appeared, amongst them, Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco, Blondie Barrett, Keith Myatt, Steve Grey, Johnny Saint, Johnny Kincaid, Wayne Bridges, Tony ‘Banger’ Walsh, Pete Roberts, Brian ‘Goldbelt’ Maxine, ‘Bulldog’ Colin Joynson, Roy St. Clair, Alan Kilby and many more so apologies if I have not mentioned your name here. This year also saw the Reunion President, Joe D’Orazio make an appearance something that pleased everyone who was there.
Sadly, the first thing on the agenda every year, are the obituaries (followed by the Ten Bell Count), a time to reflect on the ring mat warriors that have passed over to the dressing room in the sky. As the years roll by the list appears to grow longer. 2016 – 2017 was no exception, and it fell to Colin Joynson to read through and relate his fond memories. We lost the likes of Tony Cassio, Gerry Diprose, Bob Bell, Keith Martinelli and Tony Francis: John Killer Kowalski, Jumping Jim Mosa, Charlie Cornish whose name may not be familiar although his face definitely would be as a second for Dale Martin Promotions for 30 years and Tina D’Orazio, wife of Joe. Tiger Joe Robinson, a wrestler who once made a fleeting appearance in the film, A Kid For Two Farthings. A shock to most of us was the loss of perhaps one of the biggest names in the business, Vic Faulkner.
Vic’s professional wrestling career started at the age of 17 where he travelled the world extensively, wrestling in Africa, Italy, Kenya and France to name but a few. The experience he picked up proved invaluable and in 1966, he became European Middleweight Champion, a title he held until 1973: the same year he won the British Welterweight Wrestling belt, which he held until 1977. Vic was also one half of the successful tag team known as The Royal Brothers throughout the 60’s and 70’s, performing in many famous venues including The Royal Albert Hall, The Liverpool Palace, and Bolton’s Wryton Stadium – local territory to them. During that time period, rather surprisingly, they found themselves as major TV stars, because of that famous Saturday afternoon TV slot, when everything in the UK stopped at four o’ clock. At its height, British Wrestling attracted more viewers than the Manchester based soap, Coronation Street. Following his retirement in the early eighties, Faulkner worked for Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn. For me, he will always be remembered as the man with a smile on his face, because I simply cannot recall a time when I saw him with any other expression. Vic’s passing is a sad loss for the world of professional wrestling.
Awards play a big part in the reunion ceremony, a time to pay tribute to the outstanding sportsmen and women in their field. 2017 was the first year that I can remember a Superfan award was presented, which went to Ben Roberts. Nina Samuels picked up The Young Wrestler of the Year Award: Ring of Friendship Awards went to Sarah Bridges and Steve Hannam and Roger L. Sandiland the Lifetime Achievement Award. Two names were awarded for their Services to Wrestling: referee legend, Bobby Stafford and Scottish grappler Jim Starsky. Wrestler of the Year was presented to Joe Hendry and he paid tributes and thanks to the big names before him, paving the way, making his favoured lifestyle possible. Finally, the big one, The Legends Hall of Fame went to wrestler’s Keith Myatt (presented by Blondie Barrett), Alan Kilby (presented by Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco), Jumping Jim Mosa,(accepted by Johnny Kincaid), Tug Holton (accepted by Tom Tyrone and presented by Roy St Clair), Blondie Barrett (presented by Lloyd Ryan), Tony ‘Banger’ Walsh,(presented by Jeanie Clarke) and finally British Lightweight Champion, Steve Grey, presented by another renowned name of the sport, Johnny Kidd.
One thing that keeps me returning every year is not simply the chance to meet with old friends but living in anticipation of learning something new. And I do. When the wrestling finished on ITV the impact was colossal, not only for the fans but for the wrestlers themselves. What Greg Dyke had effectively done was threaten their livelihoods. Due to TV, wrestlers earned a comfortable living in near sold-out venues up and down the country every night of the week. Suddenly they had to find another way to keep the wolf from the door. Most turned to acting. Amongst them, Giant Haystacks, who appeared in a number of films, one of which was alongside ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney in Give My Regards To Broad Street. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Haystacks had also recorded a record, a country number called Baby I Need You. I’ve never heard it but I have now seen it, thanks to one enthusiastic fan and his memorabilia collection. Haystacks also appeared in the Granada production of Send In The Girls, written by Brian Glover, alongside the likes of Jim Breaks, Tony ‘Banger’ Walsh and Kendo Nagasaki. Brian ‘Goldbelt’ Maxine also stretched his vocal chords instead of his biceps with country songs, and could often be seen promoting himself in the ring. Mick McManus delved into the world of antiques.
And talking of films, something else that stood the 2017 reunion apart from previous years was a professional film crew, RSA Black Dog Films. Jake Scott is an English film director, who formed Black Dog in 1991. Due to his love of music videos, he now represents some of the most creative and established directors in both the UK and the USA, producing for a variety of artists including Madonna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, The Rolling Stones, Soundgarden, Tori Amos, Radiohead, Lily Allen, Oasis, R.E.M., U2, and the late George Michael. Jake has two feature films to his credit, Plunkett & Macleane (1999) and Welcome to the Rileys (2010), and is the son of the legendary producer/director, Ridley Scott, whose films include Hannibal, starring the oscar-winning actor, Anthony Hopkins, A Good Year with Russell Crowe, and the blockbuster of the 70’s, Alien, starring the late John Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. RSA had two cameras at the event: a fixed one inside The Bridges interviewing the former wrestlers, and a roving camera outside talking to the fans. The end result will be a professional DVD that the British Wrestlers Reunion can sell to raise proceeds.
On a closing note I would like to thank everyone connected to the reunion for a fabulous day, in particular, Ken Sowden. It can’t have been easy stepping into the shoes of the legendary MC, Frank Rimer but he did, and he did it successfully. It’s very easy to take for granted everything you see, hear and feel on the day, and if it all goes without a hitch, it’s a testament to the people behind the scenes who work tirelessly and for free because they love the job, and their close colleagues involved with it. A special thank you goes to hosts, Wayne and Sarah Bridges. But also in finishing I think it’s worth sending out a message to the new blood of the industry to please come and support what the BWR does, because without you, they will find it hard to continue. The legends will not last forever. Please don’t let British wrestling fade into obscurity like the TV did.
We would like to thank Ray for his very comprehensive review and his help throughout the year. Rays latest offering, Imperfection, together with many of his previous award winning titles are available now via Amazon. We of course wish Ray every success in the future and look forward to seeing him again on the 12th August 2018.
(Imperfection...Ray Clarks latest offering)
For over 30 years an ever presence on our television screens was professional wrestling, sadly those great days are just a distant memory for many but on the second Sunday every August we are transported back to those halcyon days when everything stopped at four o’clock on a Saturday afternoon when mums, dads, grannies and grandads and children of all ages clambered around their television screens or filled the smoky halls of literally every town and city in the UK on a regular basis to get their weekly fix of professional wrestling.
On Sunday 13th August after weeks of rain here in the South of England the storm clouds parted and the sun shone once again as wrestlers, officials and fans from far and wide converged on The Bridges Public House situated in a leafy suburb in Kent. On arriving at 8.30am wrestlers and fans were already converging on the pavement outside and it was hard to believe that in two hours there would be a mass of people all their to remember those great days of wrestling during which time there would be some wonderful stories and with this being the wrestling business we all know that everyone of these would be true !!!!. We were somewhat concerned as on arrival we were advised by a local resident that the train station that services Horton Kirby had been shut due to a severe incident and although a replacement bus service was in operation there were delays. However our worries were unfounded as at the height of the Reunion over 300 wrestlers and fans were on site many crammed into the Bridges and the garden with others having to stand on the pavement outside.
As 11.00 approached it was obvious that once again the Reunion was going to be another great success, we already knew that there would be many star wrestlers in attendance and everywhere you looked there were legends of the business arriving. It was a delight to watch the fans faces light up as another one of their wrestling heroes arrived with many of the fans armed with their autographs books, cameras and other memorabilia that they have collected over the years hoping to grab the opportunity of a chat with their favourite wrestler or a photo opportunity. The wrestlers, as always, are very obliging and are only too happy to chat with everyone as well as reliving memories with their colleagues.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon wrestlers and fans alike exchange stories, take photos, meet old and new friends and generally chat about their experiences within the wrestling business whether it be inside the ring or sat outside the ring, all of this happens whilst our resident vocalist Baz Jangles once again entertains the masses.
With Frank Rimer retiring last year it was left to new
Master of Ceremonies Barry Howard to open the proceedings and whilst it was
always going to be a daunting task following on from such a legend as Frank
Barry took to this like a duck to water.
Barry welcomed everyone to the Reunion and started by informing everyone
as to Franks retirement and whilst Frank was unable to be with us at that time
(due to him having to prepare for a flight to Canada for his sons wedding in a
few days time) he hoped to join us all later.
Barry then thanked Reunion organiser Ken Sowden for arranging the event
and continued by reading out apologies for non-attendance by Mal Sanders, Bobby
Barnes, Sid Cooper and Klondyke Kate.
We were very honoured this year to be joined by our President, Joe D’Orazio and he was introduced to everyone and welcomed by us all. Joe, who at 95 was very happy to be back at the Reunion after missing the last few years and is and will always be ‘The Guvnor’.
The Reunion continued by what is always a very poignant part of the day as the legendary ‘Bulldog’ Colin Joynson remembered all those great grapplers who have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky over the last year. Colin does this job each year with the greatest professionalism and this year was no different as we remembered Gerry Diprose, John Kowalski, Jim Moser, Keith Martinelli, Tony Cassio, Tony Francis, Smith Hart, Joe Robinson, Bob Bell, Vic Faulkner, Tina D’Orazio and Charlie Cornish. Following on from this the Reunion fell silent as the bell tolled 10 times and this was followed by a minutes applause by everyone in attendance.
As the years progress you would think that it would become harder and harder to acknowledge the greats of the ring but this was not the case and this year awards were presented as follows:-
Hall of Fame Awards:
Steve Grey presented by Johnny Kidd
Alan Kilby presented by Mark Rocco
Jumping Jim Moser presented by Johnny Kincaid (sadly Jims family member was unable to attend)
Tommy Tug Holton (received by Tom Tyrone) and presented by Roy St Clair
Bob Barratt presented by Lloyd Ryan
Keith Myatt presented by Bob Barratt
Tony Walsh presented by Jeanie Clarke
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Roger Sandilands presented by Judo Al Hollamby
Services to Wrestling Awards:
Jim Starsky presented by Dale Storm
Bobby Stafford presented by Martin Gillott
Wrestler of the Year:
Joe Hendry presented by Johnny Kincaid
Young Wrestler of the Year
Nina Samuels presented by Sarah Bridges
Ben Roberts presented by Lyndsey Mason
Ring of Friendship Award:
Sarah Bridges presented by Ken Sowden
Steve Hannam presented by Paul Tyrell
Prior to this years event we were approached by Stephen
Duncan Rice who is the head of the Live Performance Department at Equity. Stephen asked if he could give a short talk
on wrestlers in film and television which we agreed to and he proceeded to do
this. The talk was very informative and
was enjoyed by all of those in attendance.
We also received a request from Wayne Freeman who is the brother of the
legendary Princess Paula. Paula was
inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016 and Wayne accepted the award on her
behalf, however at that time he was very emotional and could not give the
acceptance speech that he wanted to so this year he again took to the stage and
gave a heart-warming thank you for the award.
This year, for the first time in many years the Reunion was
filmed and this was done so by none other than Ridley Scott Associates, the
world renowned film maker. The film crew were on site all day and
actually filmed solidly for 8 hours not only filming the award ceremony but
interviewing many of the star wrestlers in attendance about their careers as
well as the fans on their enjoyment of the day.
We have since received an email from Ridley Scotts office saying that
their visit to the Reunion was one of the best days they have done in many
years and we are very proud that a company such as them did not only come to
our Reunion but made such a nice comment about us.
With the ceremonies concluded everyone in attendance takes
some time out, food and drink is flowing, the sun is beating down and everyone
is in a very good mood, many staying on at the Bridges well into the
evening. As the afternoon draws to close
there are still many people meeting up with old friends, having photos and
getting autographs, the one day of the year where the stars of the ring return,
the clock is turned back and for that one day we are all transported back to
the glory years of British wrestling.
So that was the 2017 British Wrestlers Reunion, a great success for us all ensuring that Britain continues to hold the record of the largest Wrestlers Reunion in Europe, an honour which we rightly deserve. We have received many compliments on the day both in person as wrestlers and fans were leaving the Bridges and via email and social media which is very heart-warming and we are so pleased that everyone who attended enjoyed their time with us, it makes all the hard work worthwhile and we thank you for all of your support both in the past and for the future.
We now have just 51 weeks to go before our next event so put it in your diary, Sunday 12th August 2018…..hope to see you there !!!!!!!.
We are now just 24 hours away from the wrestling event of the year as the 2017 British Wrestlers Reunion is almost here.
Tomorrow, Sunday 13th August, Wayne and Sarah Bridges will welcome wrestlers, officials and fans to The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent, DA4 9AX for the 26th annual British Wrestlers Reunion.
As previously advised we will have your usual favourites including our prestigious award ceremony, Colin Joynson will honour the great warriors who have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky during the last twelve months followed by the 10 bell count. Our usual array of memorabilia will be on display plus some new items this year and our Souvenir Programme alongside other great items will be for sale. Food and drink will be available throughout the day and please support the Reunion by purchasing some raffle tickets for a chance to win some great prizes. On top of this there will be live entertainment and we have a very special guest speaker who will be reliving some great stories about many of your favourite wrestlers from the past.
All the fun kicks off at 11.00am with the award ceremony due to commence at 12.30pm.
weather forecasters are predicting sunshine,lets hope that they are
right, so why not come down and join us for what we hope will be another
great event, you will all be made most welcome.
Health & Strength Magazine is the oldest established physical culture journal in the world and has been continuously published since 1898. It includes regular articles on weight training, bodybuilding, strength sports, diet, nutrition, historical features, a physique gallery of famous names, a 'Hot News' page; a "Training Lab"' page and much more.
The magazine actively supports natural bodybuilding and drug-free strength sports, including the NPA (Natural Physique Association - 'npa-bodybuilding.co.uk'); the IAWA-UK, (International All-Round Weightlifting Associaton-UK); and NIFMA (Northern Ireland Fitness Models Association - www.nifma.com).
& Strength Magazine have also taken a keen interest in the
professional wrestling business and have over the years written several
articles relating to this with contributions from Wayne Bridges and
The new era for the British Wrestlers Reunion is almost upon us as we are now only one week away from the wrestling social event of the year.
On Sunday 13th August Wayne and Sarah Bridges alongside the rest of the committee will welcome wrestlers, officials and fans to The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent, DA4 9AX for the 26th annual British Wrestlers Reunion.
As in previous years we are expecting a great turnout to celebrate British wrestling with wrestlers and fans travelling not only from numerous destinations in the UK but from the USA and from various locations in Europe.
For the first time in a number of years the Reunion is being filmed by one of the top film producers in the World and as well as filming all of the days activities they will be interviewing both wrestlers and fans about the their love for the wrestling business. We also have a professional photographer who will be on hand throughout the day so please feel free to ask her if anyone would like a specific photograph with any wrestler or any of the very handsome, debonair and charismatic committee members !!!!!!!.
As always with the Reunion we will still have your usual favourites including our prestigious ceremony with 15+ deserving recipients being presented with their relevant awards. Colin Joynson will honour the great warriors who have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky during the last twelve months followed by the 10 bell count. Our usual array of memorabilia will be on display plus some new items this year and our Souvenir Programme alongside other great items will be for sale. Food and drink will be available throughout the day and please support the Reunion by purchasing some raffle tickets for a chance to win some great prizes. On top of this there will be live entertainment and we have a very special guest speaker who will be reliving some great stories about many of your favourite wrestlers from the past.
The final countdown has started so all of us at the Ring of Friendship invite you to join us next Sunday for what promises to be a day to remember and one any wrestler or fan will not want to miss.
All the fun kicks off at 11.00am with the award ceremony due to commence at 12.30pm.
We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible and can guarantee that you will receive a warm welcome like no other.
If anyone has any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us via our contact details as shown in the navigation bar.
There is now just two weeks to go as on Sunday 13th August we will once
again welcome wrestlers and fans from far and wide to this years
As always this years event is being held at The Bridges,
Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent, DA4 9AX commencing at 11.00am where
you will receive a warm welcome from your hosts Wayne and Sarah Bridges.
The event is FREE entry with award presentations, 10 bell count, drinks, food, raffles, music and memorabilia available including this years Souvenir Programme which you can purchase on the day for just £5.00. Come along and reminisce with the Legends of the ring young and old in the 'RING OF FRIENDSHIP'.
For all the up to the minute news please keep checking back right here or our facebook page British Wrestling, the Glory Years.
We hope to see many of you there for the wrestling event of the year.
(Tom Tyrone, Johnny Kincaid and Tony Costas at the 2016 Reunion)
On Thursday 27th July we sent the warmest of wishes to our beloved President Joe D'Orazio who celebrated his 95th birthday.
Joe of course is a stalwart of British wrestling and has carried out his duties with the greatest professionalism with a career in the business spanning decades.
Joe is hoping to join us at the Reunion on Sunday 13th August and we very much look forward to welcoming him.
For a in-depth look into Joes life and career please check out his Hall of Fame Induction right here on the site.
With the success of last years 25th anniversary Reunion still fresh in some of our minds it is hard to believe that we are now just 3 short weeks away from the 2017 event.
On Sunday 13th August Wayne and Sarah Bridges will once again be your hosts at the 26th Reunion which for the 20th year will be held at their premises, The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent, DA4 9AX where wrestlers and fans who will be travelling from far and wide will reminisce about the glory days of British wrestling.
As in previous years we are expecting between 100 and 150 wrestlers including former World, European and British champions to join us together with wrestling fans from around the UK. We will of course have all of our regular features including Lifetime Achievement and Services to Wrestling Awards, eight more wrestlers will be inducted into the Reunion Hall of Fame and there will be three very special awards presented to the deserving recipients. The 10 bell salute will be held prior to Colin Joynson remembering all of those grapplers who have sadly gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky this past year, this is something that is very poignant each and every year.
As well as the above we will of course have live entertainment throughout the day, memorabilia, food and drink, raffle and much more for your enjoyment.
The indications are that this years Reunion is going to be another memorable day for all of those in attendance and as the Ring of Friendship we invite you all to join us for this very special event.
The fun kicks off at 11.00am so we hope to see many of you there and lets continue the tradition that the Reunion is known for.
More sad news to report as, after a long battle with cancer, Skull Murphys partner Sue, passed away on Friday 21st July 2017. The following statement has been issued by Skull via his good friend and colleague Danny Collins:-
'After a long battle with cancer my long term partner Sue passed away yesterday evening. She was strong, brave and caring right until the end and will be missed dreadfully.
I was at her side when she passed.
Hope you understand that I wish to have my privacy at this time.
Thank you to you all for your love and support'
Everyone here at the British Wrestlers Reunion send our sincere condolences to Peter (Skull) and his family and friends at this very sad time and may Sue now RIP.
Tommy Stevenson, or as he was better known in the ring Scott Thomson , was one of the great lightweight wrestlers of his generation. A regular on the Scottish circuit Tommy even opposed the legendary Johnny Saint but unfortunately with the bout poised at one fall a piece Tommy suffered a shoulder injury resulting in him being unable to continue.
Since retirement, Tommy continues to have a keen interest in the wrestling business and is regularly guest of honour at local shows where he always receives a great reception from not only the wrestlers but the fans in attendance. Over the last few years Tommy has also become a regular supporter of the Reunions and will, if possible, attend all those held around the UK. Tommy will be travelling from Scotland to Kent for our Reunion in a few weeks time and has already informed us that he is really looking forward to the weekend.
Despite his own health issues over the last few years Tommy remains very active and on the 14th July he was inducted as a full member into the Hawick Rotary Club. This was a great honour for Tommy and we know that he will give 100% to everything they do as they continue to raise thousands of pounds each and every year for charity.
We look forward to
seeing Tommy on the13th August and for many more years to come as he
continues to give his all to helping others and being a good friend to
We are now just a few short weeks away from this years British Wrestlers Reunion which will take place on Sunday 13th August 2017 at The Bridges, Horton Road, South Darenth, Kent, DA4 9AX with a start time of 11.00am.
Over the last three years the Reunion has produced a souvenir programme to commemorate the days events and due to its popularity this year will be no exception with the 2017 programme ready to roll off of the presses as we speak.
This years programme has a completely new look which we hope you will all approve of and will consist of 12 glossy pages and will give details of all those who will receive the honour of being presented with one of our prestigious awards. In addition to this the programme will give details of those great grapplers who have gone to the Dressing Room in the Sky as well as various articles giving an insight into the wrestling business from both in and out of the ring.
We are sure that, as in previous
years, this programme will be a great keepsake for what we hope will be a
memorable day for us all. Despite the fact that our printing costs
have slightly increased this year we will again be retaining the price
of the programme at £5.00 if purchased at the Reunion itself or £6.00 if
purchased from our website after the event (this will be for UK buyers
only, overseas buyers please contact us for postage costs).
indications are showing that this years event will be another great
success with wrestlers and fans travelling from far and wide to be with
us and we hope to see as many of you as possible on the 13th August so
come of join the Ring of Friendship and be part of the Peoples Reunion
In what has been an awful week for professional wrestling with the passing of both Smith Hart and Vic Faulkner we have now received word via James Morton that 'Tiger' Joe Robinson has passed away aged 90 at his home in Brighton.
Joe initially took a keen interest in judo and jujitsu but soon the bright lights and the fame that being a professional wrestler brought got his attention and he soon mastered the art and after a short time in the amateur ranks turned fully professional.
At the start of his wrestling career Joe worked under the Atholl Oakeley banner and was soon main eventing around the UK having many great bouts with the top stars of the day. One of Joes famous victories came in 1952 at the Royal Albert Hall when he defeated Axel Cadier for the European title.
in his carer Joe went to work for Joint Promotions and at the time was
becoming one of their biggest stars until an in ring injury cut short a
Life after wrestling was good for Joe however as he caught the acting bug and co starred in many films for cinema and television after many others were long retired.
Robinson passed away on the 3rd July 2017 and will be sadly missed. He
will of course be added to the Dressing Room in the Sky. We here at
the Reunion send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad