Mark Hussey was born on the 11th May 1951 in Manchester to a family that was already well established in the world of boxing and professional wrestling. Marks great grandfather had worked on the boxing and wrestling fairground booths, his grandfather was a good amateur and most famously of all his father was none other than Jumping Jim Hussey, the powerful heavyweight wrestler who himself was known throughout the world.
(Mark Rocco seen here with his father Jumping Jim Hussey after winning his Championship belt)
The name Rollerball Rocco in which Mark was later to become most famous for was a long way off when he first took a keen interest in the wrestling business. At the tender age of 6 years old Mark would regularly accompany his father around the halls of Britain and more notably Europe watching all the great names of that era, taking in the atmosphere and hoping that one day he to would be stepping into the ring as a main event star. However, as great as Marks wrestling career was to become life could have been very different for him. His father, Jim Hussey, was adamant that his son would not follow in the family tradition and enter the world of boxing or wrestling, instead, Jim encouraged his son to try his hand at equestrian. The Hussey family were keen showjumpers and Mark, or so his father thought, had a career mapped out in this profession. Infact, Mark did excel in equestrian and could well have become one of the top riders in the country but his first love was professional wrestling and no matter what his father said he was determined to carve a career for himself in the ring.
(A young Mark Rocco setting out on his wrestling career)
The Hussey family had a gymnasium at their home which was fully equipped with a practice ring and a weights room. Infact, many of the top wrestlers from the North of England would attend the Hussey gym for training and Mark saw this as a great opportunity to learn the art of professional wrestling from some of the leading wrestlers in the UK. Jim Hussey was, like many others at that time, regularly away from home travelling not only around the halls of the United Kingdom but also of Europe. One of the wrestlers who was already himself an established star was Colin Joynson. Colin would often train at the Hussey gym and he agreed to teach a young Mark the art of professional wrestling although it was agreed that Marks father would not find out about this. Mark would go to the gym as often as he could when he father was not at home and trained vigorously for three years where he would lift the weights learn the holds and was taught how to take the bumps and it soon became apparent to everyone that he had exactly what it took to succeed in the world of professional wrestling.
Marks first professional bout came somewhat unexpectedly when in November 1969 at 18 years of age, he, like he did many times, accompanied his father to a wrestling show. This show was being held in Yardley, West Midlands and due to adverse weather conditions the promoters found themselves short of wrestlers and so Mark agreed to step up to the plate and entered the ring against none other than Colin Joynson. This was the first Jim Hussey knew of his sons involvement in the business but by this time it was too late, Mark Rocco was a professional wrestler and his next goal was to ensure that he became the best that he could. Growing up in the business Mark knew the pitfalls of being a wrestler but he also knew the adulation that you could get if you got it right and this is what Mark strived for. Although Jim had previously been against his son entering the wrestling business he knew that if this is what he really wanted to do then he would need to do it properly and he therefore sent a young Mark around the UK and across Europe to learn the different styles of wrestling and to enhance the skills that he had already acquired.
(Mark Rocco was soon top of the bill)
By the early 1970s Mark was now working regularly for Joint Promotions and was starting to get noticed around the halls of the UK. It was at this time that Mark was to start using the ring name of Rocco, this was taken from his Italian great grandfather at the request of his father. Later on Mark worked as a stuntman on the film Rollerball and it was after this time that wrestling supremo Max Crabtree suggested that this be used as his ring name, therefore Rollerball Rocco was born.
Mark soon progressed from the opening bout of the night to mid card and after just six months he found himself thrown into the national spotlight when he was given his first taste of appearing in a televised bout. This bout was to emanate from Wembley on the 14th November 1970 where he faced an already established star in his own right in Brian Maxine. Although Mark lost this bout it was good training for him and he would go on to appear on television many more times over the coming years against the likes on Bobby Barnes, Caswell Martin, Tony St Clair, Johnny Kwango, Steve Grey, Marty Jones and Mike Marino to name but a few in solo bouts as well as tag teams bouts partnering the likes of Giant Haystacks, Mal Kirk, Banger Walsh and Steve Logan.
(Mark Rocco had some tremendous battles with old foe Marty Jones)
Although Mark was still considered a rookie in the wrestling business he spent a lot of his early years abroad wrestling in such countries as India, Turkey, France, Germany, and Austria learning his craft and striving to get better and better with each passing day. On returning to the UK Mark was to have his first taste of championship glory when on the 11th June 1977 in Marks home town of Manchester he defeated top wrestler Bert Royal for the British Heavy Middleweight Title. Around this time another young wrestler was emerging on the scene in the shape of Marty Jones. Mark and Marty were to have some tremendous battles over the coming years, all top class and entertaining bouts and you would be hard pressed to see two better wrestlers in this weight category anywhere in the World. Infact, Mark was to be defeated by Marty on the 13th September 1978 at Woking for his Championship belt but was to regain it again on the 6th December 1978 when he won a tournament against Chris Adams after Jones had vacated the belt. Mark would successfully defend this Championship on many occasions until he himself vacated it in August 1981.
(Mark was soon the all action World Champion)
August 1981 was to be a pivotal month for Mark, having now made it to a main event star in his own right he was now challenging for the biggest prize in the wrestling industry, this being a World Championship. On the 26th August 1981 in Southport Mark was to get his opportunity to achieve his lifetime ambition when he faced Joel de Fremery from France. Although this was a hard fought battle, as you would expect, Mark was victorious and was named World Heavy Middleweight Champion before a packed crowd. Mark was to hold this championship on three occasions losing it to Frank Chic Cullen and Fuji Yamada but regaining it in both rematches. Mark was to remain the World Title Holder until his retirement from in ring action in 1991.
(Mark as Black Tiger)
By the late 1970s Mark was now wrestling all over the World and was in great demand, adding the World Title was just a bonus and Mark found himself wrestling for many of the top promoters in the USA such as the AWA and the WWF. A bout in Madison Square Garden brought Mark to the attention of the top Japanese Promoters and they soon offered Mark the chance to headline their promotions. Mark had at this time been having some tremendous bouts around the UK with Japanese star Sammy Lee who had returned to Japan and was wrestling as Tiger Mask. The Japanese Promoters were keen to let the Japanese fans see these two great wrestlers face each other in their own country and a series of matches were made. However, Mark was not to wrestle as Rollerball Rocco but as Black Tiger and on arriving in Japan lived the life of Black Tiger wearing the mask whenever out in public. The two men wrestled each other around Japan and was the main event at a sold out Tokyo Dome, the action was said to be the best seen in years and the two continued to feud until Tiger Mask left the promotion.
(Mark Rocco continued to face the likes of Johnny Saint)
Although Mark would continue to tour the World and make several visits back to Japan he returned to the UK but rather than return to his old stomping ground of Joint Promotions decided to jump ship where he worked for Orig Williams and All Star Promotions. By doing this Mark was allowed to continue with his world tours, something that Joint Promotions were not happy to allow him to do. Although by leaving Joint Promotions Mark would not be on mainstream television this all changed in 1987 when he made a triumph return to the small screen where he would take on such wrestlers as Chic Cullen, Danny Collins, Johnny Saint and Fuji Yamada. Mark also had a notable feud with Kendo Nagasaki, a rarity as Mark was one of the biggest baddies on the scene at this time and to face another baddie in Nagasaki was something of a gamble but it paid off. The feud started in a televised bout aired on the 5th March 1988 from the Fairfield Halls in Croydon where Mark was teaming with Nagasaki against Dave Taylor and Kung Fu. This was a heated bout which resulted in Mark ripping off the mask of Nagasaki thus starting a feud that would continue around the halls of the UK even after ITV wrestling was axed at the end of that year.
(Mark Rocco had his final bout against Dave Fit Finlay)
British wrestling now had no shop window with the loss of mainstream television although Mark continued to tour the halls of the UK having top of the bill clashes with the likes of Kendo Nagasaki, Marty Jones and Danny Collins as well as continuing with his tours of Germany, Austria, France and Japan. However on a fateful night in Worthing in 1991 Marks wrestling career was to be dealt a massive blow and this was one bout that he wasnt going to win. Mark had just completed a bout against Dave 'Fit' Finlay when on returning to the dressing room he collapsed. Mark was taken to hospital where it was discovered that his heart was severely damaged and he had an irregular heartbeat. This was a very sad day not only for Mark but for the wrestling business as he immediately announced his retirement from the ring.
(Mark Rocco enjoying his retirement in his home in the Canary Islands)
Mark Rocco lived out his retirement from his luxury home in the Canary Islands but sadly he was diagnosed with dementia and returned to the UK, a premature end to his wrestling career did not stop Mark from making a good living however and he had a number of successful businesses on the Island.
Throughout his wrestling career Mark was at the very top, a competitor who would easily be a star of the ring today as he was in his day, a true professional who wrestled to full houses whenever he appeared, a wrestler known around the world and loved and admired by not only his fellow professionals but by the fans alike.
Sadly Mark Rocco passed away on the 30th July 2020.
The wrestling business will never see the likes of Mark Rollerball Rocco in the ring again and for those fortunate enough to have witnessed him wrestle can count themselves as very lucky to see the Worlds best. For this reason, Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco more than deserves his place in the Hall of Fame and we are more than happy to induct him.