The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our warmest wishes to Tony 'Banger' Walsh and his lovely wife Carol who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.
Tony was, during the 1970s and 80s, one of the most recognisable names in wrestling when, more often than not, was seen in the opposing corner to Yorkshire heavyweight Big Daddy in tag team action across the UK.
Outside of the ring Tony was a successful businessman but wrestling was his firm love and even after retirement continued to support the industry and was a regular attendee at the Reunion, where, in 2017 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Tony has now got dementia but he and his family continue to do good work to raise money dementia charities.
Tony and Carol now have three beautiful children five gorgeous grandchildren and one adorable great grandson and they say that they have certainly lived life to the full.
We hope Tony and Carol had a great day and have many more happy years together.
(Tony & Carol Walsh on their wedding day)
(Bill Ross and Jims wife and daughter accept the HOF Award)
Seventeen years on from Jim McKenzie’s death, the Glaswegian wrestler joined his old sparring partner one last time after he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for Scotland.
On Friday 22nd October the Lord Provost oversaw a ceremony at the City Chambers where McKenzie, a lightweight who was a titan of the UK wrestling scene in the 1960s, became the seventh man to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a plaque was awarded to his widow Helen, their daughter Gillian and Bill Ross, McKenzie’s old tag team-mate and occasional opponent.
“Jim McKenzie was possibly Glasgow’s finest ever wrestler,” said Hall of Fame founder Bradley Craig. “He was also one of the leading champions in the lightweight division in a time where lightweight stars from Scotland were the best in the world.
“The ‘Flying Scots’ of Bill Ross and Jim McKenzie were without question Scotland’s finest tag team. They were probably the greatest tag team of their generation.
“They had some fantastic battles up and down the country. Jim’s speed with Bill’s strength was a virtually unbeatable combination.”
When presented with McKenzie’s old belt, a teary-eyed Ross admitted seeing it once again “brought back a lot of memories”. He then recalled one particular wrestling match that highlighted just how much of a force the ‘Flying Scots’ were back in their heyday. “Jim was a very well-respected wrestler who had great speed and a great sense of humour,” Ross recalled. “As far as I was concerned, he was a great professional and a good friend, and we had many a hard tussle over the years! Because of the training I was doing, I was just that bit stronger than Jim all the time. I’ve always been strong in my legs, good at pushing. Quite often I’d feel boys out and then let Jim give them the runaround.
This always stuck in my mind: we were wrestling a French tag team and I saw one the guys gesturing to his muscles and squeezing his hand – calling us soft, basically. Jim and I both clocked it. I said I’d go out first and push him around a bit. Well, two or three minutes in I picked up this guy, held him above my head and dropped him on the canvas. I tagged Jim, he rolled in and immediately pinned him. The promoter knew exactly what I was doing because I’d done this before. He was laughing and told me ‘those boys were supposed to be over for a two-month contract’. The guys ended up packing it in and going home!”
Gillian McKenzie, Jim’s daughter, wasn’t born by the time her dad had retired from the sport, and said she enjoyed learning about his status within the world of wrestling.
She said: “I’m very proud to have my dad’s career remembered decades after he retired from the ring. He was a great father, and it's really special for me to learn about the impact he made as a top wrestler in the years since his passing'
Helen McKenzie, Jim’s widow, added: “My husband loved his days as a wrestler, which gave him some of the happiest times of his life, travelling across the country with many of the other stars of his generation.”
We here at the British Wrestlers Reunion send our congratulations to Jims family for an honour that is well deserved.
(Text courtesy and with the kind permission of the Glasgow Evening Times and Newsquest Media Group Limited)
He is without any doubt and will always remain one of the most famous names in British Wrestling and yet it is hard to believe that the legendary masked star known worldwide as Kendo Nagasaki celebrated his 80th birthday on the 19th October.
Kendo made his professional debut at Willenhall Baths against one of the eras biggest stars in Jumping Jim Hussey (the father of Rollerball Mark Rocco who Kendo would go on to have a feud with twenty years later). This was a huge bout for even the most experienced wrestler let alone a newcomer to the business but Kendo showed no fear of the bigger man. This first bout was the start of what was to become one of many top matches that Kendo would participate in and he was soon travelling up and down the UK wrestling the top stars of the day making a name for himself wherever he went as well as gaining experience in the ring. As time went by certainly made promoters sit up and take notice at what a future star they had on their hands.
In 1966 Kendo was to face his biggest challenge at that time when he stood across the ring from another masked man in Count Bartelli. Bartelli had been one of the greatest masked wrestlers for over 20 years but was now being seriously challenged for this crown by the young up and coming Kendo. Bartelli and Kendo had been seen in UK rings in tag team bouts and had a great deal of success, infact nobody could beat them but a falling out between the two men of mystery set up this solo contest. The bout finally took place on Saturday 5th March 1966 at the Victoria Hall in Hanley before a sold out crowd with many other fans unable to get into the building to witness this unique match. The bout was evenly matched throughout and nobody in attendance could have picked a winner, either wrestler could have secured the win but it was Kendo who ended up triumphant after Bartelli failed to beat the referees count, the career of the UKs most famous masked wrestler was over and it was only the beginning of a legends career as this bout firmly put Kendo Nagasaki on the map.
The Bartelli bout had made Kendo one of the biggest names in British wrestling, he was now topping the bill and facing many of the top heavyweights of the day, infact it was reported that during this period he was the top heavyweight in the UK but due to his secret identity he was unable to challenge for the British Title although many believed he would have certainly captured the belt if he had been allowed to wrestle for it.
It was not until 1971 that Kendo was given his first taste of national stardom when he participated in his first televised appearance from St Albans. The bout was aired on the 8th May and the masked man defeated Wayne Bridges by one fall to nil. This was to be Kendos first of many televised appearances which although periodic would continue until ITV wrestled was removed from television in 1988 in which he wrestled such stars as Bruno Elrington, Colin Joynson, Prince Kumali, John Cox, Gwyn Davies, Johnny Kincaid, Billy Howes, Shirley Crabtree, Marty Jones, Pete Roberts, Lee Bronson to name but a few.
On the 31st July 1971 in a bout aired from Catterick the public were to get their first glimpse of Kendo unmasked when, in a contest against Bristols Billy Howes, the mask was removed, millions of television viewers saw, albeit briefly, Kendo without his mask before he fled to the dressing room but if anything this just made Kendo even more famous and his presence was required not only in the UK but around the World. Although Kendo was booed by the fans he had a vast and loyal following which continued to grow no matter what happened in the ring.
A few months after the unmasking Kendo introduced the World to a man who would be at his side for many years to come in the form of George Gillette, a man whose dress sense would give Adrian Street a run for his money. George would soon become as famous as Kendo introducing himself to the crowd before Kendos bouts and working the crowd into a frenzy even before any wrestling action would begin, George was a good addition to the Kendo camp and the two men worked well together.
For the first part of 1972 Kendo and George jetted off to Canada and America issuing an open challenge to anyone who wished to meet Kendo in the ring, and as expected Kendo was victorious in these bouts, a huge star in the UK had now become a star across the pond as well as Japan where he wrestled as Mr Guillotine some years earlier.
On returning to Joint Promotions Kendos next challenge was in the form of 25 stone Shirley Crabtree (who later went on to become one of the UKs biggest stars as Big Daddy). Nagasaki and Crabtree wrestled all around the UK with Nagasaki being the victor on the majority of occasions. The two men topped the bill for several months before Kendo, who at this time was getting limited television coverage, decided to move to independent promoters. Unfortunately for Kendo this did not really work out for him and in 1974 he returned to Joint Promotions where he continued with his feud with Crabtree (who was now wrestling as Big Daddy). In a bout aired on television on the 6thDecember 1975 from Solihull this was to be the second time that Kendo was to be unmasked in the ring when during the bout Daddy tore the mask from Kendos head. However, despite this Kendo won the bout and the two men continued to feud until Daddy turned his attention to Giant Haystacks and the feud ended.
Kendo remained in the UK and continued to top the bill but then in a show broadcast from the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton on the 31st December 1977 one of the most historic events ever in British Wrestling occurred when in a segment shown on ITVs World of Sport Kendo Nagasaki did the unthinkable when he voluntarily removed the mask in front of a sold out crowd and millions of viewers around the UK on television. For the first real time everyone got to have a good look at the man of mystery. This was a piece of not only wrestling but television gold and something that is still talked about to this day with nothing coming close to the atmosphere in the hall that night. Although Kendo continued to wrestle for a short period without the mask it was announced in September 1978 that he was retiring from in ring action. The wrestling world went into mourning at the thought that one of its major stars would no longer be seen but they need not have worried as a few years later Kendo was to make a return to the ring.
In 1981/82 Kendo returned to the ring, this time under the promotion of Brian Dixon and in which he feuded with what he considered a Kendo imposter in the guise of King Kendo. The two men wrestled around the UK with Nagasaki being the victor until Nagasaki decided that he would once again retire from the ring.
In January 1987 Kendo would make a dramatic return to the ring in a bout aired from the London Hippodrome. Again, Kendo was wrestling for Brian Dixon who had secured part of the ITV wrestling slot from Joint Promotions and along with the likes of Rollerball Rocco, Wayne Bridges, Tony St Clair amongst others were a real challenge to Joint Promotions stronghold on televised wrestling. Kendo was successful in his comeback bout and continued to tour the UK together with George Gillette once again topping the bill wherever he went.
In a show broadcast on the 21st November 1987 from Bradford Kendo would enter into a contest that was on a par with that of his feud twenty years earlier with Count Bartelli when he faced WWA Champion Wayne Bridges. On this occasion Nagasaki was successful and defeated Bridges to become World Champion holding the championship until March 1988 when Bridges regained the belt in Cheltenham.
During the best part of 1988 Kendo feuded with Rollerball Rocco, whose father he had wrestled in his very first bout, after the two men fell out during a televised bout broadcast in March 1988 from the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. The two men would carry on this feud for several years and continued to draw good crowds around the UK even after ITV wrestling ended in December 1988. During this time Kendo also teamed up with Bob ‘Blondie’ Barratt and had great success around the UK facing some of the top stars of the day.
In 1990 the wrestling world was sad to learn that George Gillette had passed away after managing Kendo for nearly 20 years, the two men had the most successful partnership in the business and it was sad that it had come to an untimely end. Kendo however continued with his in ring action and took on Lloyd Ryan as his Manager, Lloyd a very successful drummer in his own right fitted in well with Kendo and the two men continued with a very successful career. In 1991 Kendo feuded with Giant Haystacks and again sold out halls around the country as these two goliaths of the ring faced each other.
By the time 1993 approached Lloyd Ryan and Kendo had had a parting of the ways, Ryan was now managing King Kendo for what was to be another ‘battle of the Kendos’ whilst Nagasaki was managed by his personal assistance Lawrence Stevens. These bouts were however cut short when Nagasaki retired from the ring once again.
In May 2000 Kendo returned to the Victoria Hall in Hanley, the scene of his famous unmasking of Count Bartelli, where he accepted the Wrestler of the Millennium Trophy, a great honour and well deserved for a man who has without any doubt been one of this countries biggest ever stars. This appearance would lead to a year of action for Kendo in which he faced such stars as Marty Jones, Darren Walsh and James Mason before once again leaving the limelight behind.
In 2007 Kendo made another comeback, this time wrestling exclusively for LDN Wrestling. Kendo remained a hit with not only his loyal fans from the past 40+ years but also a new legion of fans who had heard about the man of mystery but now had the opportunity to witness this huge star in the ring. Kendo battled the likes of Robbie Brookside, Hakan and Travis and many others on the LDN roster before once again announcing his retirement.
As well as his wrestling career Kendo has appeared in numerous television programmes including the Timeshift Programme, Send in the Girls, a drama for ITV, They Think its all Over, the Danny Baker Show and many others. Kendo has also spent his entire life with spiritual healing and continues to practice this.
In 2015 Kendo Nagasaki made his first appearance at any wrestling Reunion when he made a rare public appearance in Kent. Such was Kendos popularity that his appearance drew the biggest crowd the Reunion has ever seen and the day was described by many as the best Reunion of all time.
Kendo Nagasaki was inducted into the Hall of Fame and was presented with the award by Frank Rimer.. After accepting the award Kendo re-inacted his famous 1977 burning of the mask and thereafter presented the mask to the Reunion. Kendo re-attended the Reunion the following year in which he continued his good work for the Lee Rigby Foundation bring Lees parents along with him.
Kendo Nagasaki has more than earned the right to be called a wrestling legend, he will go down in history as one of the most famous wrestlers in not only the UK but around the world and more than deserves his place in the British Wrestlers Hall of Fame.
We wish Kendo all the very best as his celebrates his birthday and hopes he enjoys all the accolades that come his way.
(Giant Haystacks action figure will be available for pre order from Sunday 10th October 2021)
Over the last few weeks we have brought you information on the Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy action figures that are being released by Chella Toys.
(Big Daddy action figure is coming soon)
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to announce the passing of referee Billy Finlay.
Billy who worked for amongst others Brian Dixon and Orig Williams was a no nonsense referee who became more widely known when he appeared on ITV wrestling in the late 1980s.
Billy has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
May Billy now RIP.
As you all know there has been a Petition ongoing for some time now to get Chick Knight officially recognised for his heroic action saving two lives at the Hammersmith Bridge. As recently reported, the plaque unveiling has now taken place and the following statement has been released regarding this:-
'Hammersmith Mayor PJ Murphy has unveiled a plaque commemorating the heroism of a former wrestler, boxer and ex-army veteran who saved two people from drowning in Hammersmith.
On 15 June, 1930 Chick Knight jumped off Hammersmith Bridge into the Thames to rescue two people who had gotten into trouble in the water. A plaque has now been installed on a bench on the Thames Path in front of Riverside Studios, next to where Chick entered the water.
The installation of the plaque follows a campaign from Chick’s great nephew Andy Scott who has written a biography of Chick entitled London’s Loveable Villain.
“I could find no record of the incident in local newspapers or archives, but the whole incident and what happened was documented by the Royal Humane Society, for Chick’s certificate he was awarded at the time,” explains Andy. I felt it rightly deserved recognition in the borough, and am so glad that after two years, and a petition with nearly 500 signatures on it, that Cllr Murphy and his team agreed with me. It was wonderful to see the plaque finally installed and for Chick’s heroism to be recognised.”
Chick Knight was a well-known local figure in his day. He was born in 1903 in Southerton Road, Hammersmith, and also lived for a time with his wife Lilian in Netherwood Road in Shepherds Bush.
He was one of the first British wrestlers to appear on TV in 1938 and competed all over the world between 1932 and 1958, under names like ‘The Cockney Killer’ and ‘London’s Loveable Villain’.
He led a colourful life that also included stints as a soldier, a boxer, a doorman, a movie stuntman and even working security at Kensington Palace. He also saved a fellow soldier from drowning in Gibraltar in 1926'
We are delighted that the plaque unveiling has taken place and send our warmest congratulations to Andy on not only persisting with this but on the success of his book which continues to be sold worldwide.
(Mayor PJ Murphy and Andy Scott at the unveiling of the plaque)
We are saddened to receive word from our friends over at Wrestling Heritage that Alan Bardouille aka Kid Chocolate passed away on Saturday 11th September.
Alan started his professional wrestling career in April 1966 working initially for Norman Morrell before going on to work across the UK. In 1970 Alan made his first appearance at The Royal Albert Hall where he opposed the great lightweight star Zoltan Boscik
In the 1970s Alan changed his ring name to Kid Chocolate and made numerous television appearance throughout the 1970s and 80s taking on such high calibre opponents as Mick McManus, Dynamite Kid, Jim Breaks, Vic Faulkner, Rollerball Rocco and John Naylor. Alan was also a regular tag team partner to Big Daddy teaming with the Yorkshire heavyweight over 100 times which included an F A Cup Final appearance in 1983 against the Masked Marauders.
On retirement from the ring Alan went into the hospitality business but also maintained his fitness as well as raising thousands of pounds for charitable causes.
Alan has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
Alan will be sadly missed by all who knew him and may he know RIP.
(Alan in action against Jim Breaks)
As many of you will know Sarah Bridges, wife of the legendary Wayne Bridges and Reunion host for the last 28 years was admitted to hospital in June and since that time has been very unwell.
We are delighted to now advise everyone that on the 7th September Reunion organiser Ken Sowden had an hour long conversation with Sarah and she is feeling a lot better and is recovering well. She is very bright in herself and it was just like talking to her before she went into hospital. Although she has a long way to go yet she is starting to get there.
Sarah has asked us to pass on her thanks to everyone who has sent best wishes via the British Wrestlers Reunion over the last few months.
A further update will be provided in due course but we are thrilled that Sarah is back with us and that our prayers were answered.
Thank you all for your concern over the last few months, it is much appreciated.
Last week we had the Giant Haystacks figure released and it was only a matter of time, infact it was probably the worse kept secret in wrestling but here he is, yes the Big Daddy figure is on its way from our good friends over at Chella Toys.
Whilst still in the early stages it wont be long before the prototype is with us and we will give further updates in the coming weeks, you have seen the Haystacks one and you know the Daddy one is going to be just as good.
Chella Toys have told us today (31st August) that they are really pleased with the response that they have received with regards the Giant Haystacks figure and now Big Daddy is here, two great icons of british wrestling getting recognition.
(The real deal but his action figure is on its way courtesy of Chella Toys)
On the 28th July we had the sad task of announcing that legendary wrestling referee Bob Stafford had passed away aged 81 years of age after battling cancer for many years.
On the 26th August Bobs funeral took place at the Thames View Crematorium with many of his family, friends and former colleagues in attendance to pay their final respects.
As many will know Bob was passionate about the wrestling business and to pay their respects on the day were Mal Sanders, Steve Grey, Johnny Kidd, John Hall, Nobby Heinz, Mel Stuart, Steve Barker and Lee Bamber (who represented the Reunion). Bobs very good friend Chris Buckwell was also in attendance.
For anyone who was unable to attend but would like to make a donation to the British Heart Foundation in Bobs memory you can still do this by clicking on the following link:-
We are very pleased that Bob got a good wrestling send off and that we ourselves were able to pay our own tribute to him at this years Reunion. Now out of pain may he RIP.
Over the last few years action figures have increased in popularity with more people than ever now collecting them as a hobby rather than having them as a toy.
Although the majority of these figures in relation to the wrestling business have been made for the American market that is about to change as our very own Giant Haystacks is to have his own official figure which has been made by Chella Toys.
The figure which has got the full support of the Ruane family will soon be available to purchase but as you can see from the photos of the prototype it is exceptionally good and we are sure that it will be a huge hit with anyone who collects these figures or indeed has an interest in British wrestling or Giant Haystacks.
Once the figure is released on general sale we will of course advise you of the cost and where it can be purchased from.
(The figures and the real deal)
The 24th August 1981 was one of the saddest days in professional wrestling as one of the all time greats passed away in tragic circumstances. Mike Marino was one of the very best and his death sent shockwaves around the wrestling world.
Mike started wrestling in the 1940s and throughout his illustrious career held the British, European and World Mid Heavyweight titles, he travelled the globe and was one of the most recognisable faces on televised wrestling in the UK.
Mike was one of the most beloved Professional Wrestlers to ever to put on a pair of wrestling boots, he was loved in equal measure by both the fans and the wrestlers alike. Never without a smile on his face one of his closest friends, fellow legend Wayne Bridges, stated a few years ago 'I cannot remember ever seeing Mike in a bad mood'.
During the hey days of British Wrestling most wrestlers would travel in excess of 1,000 miles a week and if you were fortunate enough to be travelling with Mike Marino then you knew you were in for a treat. You'd be laughing all week, as Mike was able to tell jokes and play pranks from Lands End to John O'Groats.
Mikes love affair with Wrestling was second to none and he was most happy when he was wrestling around the halls of Britain and passing on his seemingly endless knowledge to his trainees. He was never happier then when he was teaching young hopefuls his trade. Many of these trainees went on to be main event stars and champions in their own right. In the glory days of wrestling any promoter in the land that knew you were one of Mike Marino's boys would book you sight unseen, simply on the reputation and respect that this great man had earned from his years in the sport. He was so good that he was know as Mr Wrestling by the fans, promoters and wrestlers.
Wayne Bridges was fortunate to have had the pleasure of knowing Mike personally for over 30 years. Another loved and respected man in the business, was Mike's cousin Joe D'Orazio, who can remember Mike being top of the Bill in the 1940's! In that era the man to beat was Bert Assirati, one of the toughest and hardest men ever in wrestling. The blood bath matches that these two greats had at that time are still talked about to this day at the Reunion by some of the old timers. As are the classic matches he had with Judo Al Hayes amongst others, these matches will go down in the history books as being some of the most technically proficient and scientific displays of wrestling of all time.
The sad passing of Mike Marino occured on the 24th August 1981 following a seizure whilst he was travelling home on the M20 from a show when he in the presence of some of his boys including Mal Sanders and Mel Stuart . He had been admitted to Ashford hospital with a swollen tongue but discharged, it was later confirmed that he had been suffering from Leukemia. It was a sad sad occasion for all.
Forty years after his sad passing Mike Marino is still fondly remembered by all who knew him, he was a true gentleman and a man who definitely deserved to be called a 'legend of wrestling. We remember Mike and the legacy he left and may he continue to RIP.
(Mike Marino with Mick McManus and Joe D'Orazio)
On the 23rd August British Wrestling lost two of their best ever heavyweights, albeit in different years, and the British Wrestlers Reunion now pay tribute and remember Mal Kirk who passed away in 1987 and Crusher Mason who passed away in 2000.
Both of the above men were taken far too early and yet had successful careers in which they did not only top the bill in the UK but also around the World. Both men wrestled in various European countries and regularly took part in the big German Wrestling Tournaments that took place.
Mal Kirk and Crusher Mason were great heavyweights who had a no nonsense approach in the ring and would take on all comers and even on occasions teamed as a formidable tag team which very few teams would wish to oppose.
Mal and Crusher have both been inducted into the Hall of Fame and their entry can be seen in the relevant section on this site.
Both men are fondly remembered by all who had the pleasure to know them and are remembered by their colleagues and wrestling fans to this very day. Despite the fact that the grapplers both passed away over 20 years ago their legacy and memory lives on through their daughters, Lyndsey and Natasha who both support the Reunion movement with Lyndsey attending both the Kent and Leeds Reunion and Natasha attending the Leeds Reunion in recent weeks.
Mal Kirk and Crusher Mason will never be forgotten and we remember them and what they did for British Wrestling, may both continue to RIP.
(Bill and Colin Joynson) Pic courtesy of Wendy Mellor
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive the news that Bill Rawlings has passed away aged 89 years of age just one week after attending the Leeds Reunion.
Bill who hailed from Yorkshire, was a good mid heavyweight grappler who could hold his own against any opponent and one of the first wrestlers to be seen on television in the UK. Bill had a 20+ years career in the professional ranks starting in the 1950s which included a stint in Canada with his brother.
Bill has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time.
May Bill now RIP.
(Lance Harding entertained the crowd at the 2021 Reunion (image from earlier Reunion)
As recently reported Bob Staffords funeral will be taking place on Thursday 26th at 2.00pm. We have now received word from his daughter Chelsea with regard to flowers/donations for anyone wishing to do this.
'Dad's wishes were for donations to be made to either British Heart Foundation or Ellenor Hospice'
Should you wish to send flowers then this can be arranged although the family have requested that it be 'Family Flowers' only.
For anyone who would like to make a donation in Bobs memory you can do this by clicking on the following link:-
Bob gave many years of his life to the professional wrestling industry and we hope that many will attend his funeral and give him a good wrestling send off whilst paying their own respects. Wrestling was a big part of Bobs life as was Chelsea Football Club and the family have suggested that anyone attending the funeral wear something blue.
Bob is much missed by all those that were lucky enough to have known him and may he now RIP.
(Jackie Pallos former home, now in ruins after a fire)
He was one of the biggest names in British wrestling for decades and now Jackie Pallo’s former Ramsgate home is once again up for debate as plans to flatten it for housing return.
Ozengell Farm was the home of the wrestling hero until his death from cancer in 2006, aged 80. His son, Jackie Jnr, and wife Trixie continued to live at the property. Trixie died in 2013.
The four-bed property was gutted by fire in March 2018, believed to have been deliberately set. Ramsgate and Margate crews were called to the site with 16 firefighters and four fire engines at the scene during the height of the blaze.
Mont Blanc Developments Ltd are planning to demolish the gutted property and build 6 new houses. The plans were previously refused in 2019 and an appeal was also dismissed in 2020.
Planning officers have recommended that the new plans are also refused due to road safety. The farmhouse is on Haine Road which is unlit and lacks a footpath, leaving pedestrians exposed to road traffic.
Commenting on the application KCC Highways said that the proposal was “essentially the same” as the one refused last year.
Two of the houses would be 3 bedroom, and the other 3 houses 4 bedroom.
The site has been troubled since the fire in 2018. It has become a source of fly tipping, vandalism, homelessness and a man was found dead at the property last year.
The farmhouse sits opposite to Grade II listed Ozengell Grange, built in 1711, but the house is not listed. A barn next to Ozengell Grange is also Grade II listed and was built between the 14th and 15th century.
Jackie Pallo dominated TV screens in the 60s and 70s in British wrestling’s heyday.
Thanet District Council’s planning committee will meet on Wednesday 18th August.
(text couresty of Thanet News)
*** UPDATE ***
The Council rejected the planning application from the housing developer so for the time being the house is allowed to stand albeit in its current state.
Fighting with My Family was a box office hit when it was released in 2019 and gave not only the Knight family even more recognition but promoted professional wrestling in a positive way around the world. Now the film, which has previously only been available to watch in cinemas, pay television and dvd is now getting its television debut in the UK.
The film is scheduled to be shown on Saturday 21st August at 9.00pm on Channel 4.
'Wrestlers Rick and Julia Knight raise their children, Saraya and Zak, to follow in their footsteps; as young adults, the siblings apply to join the WWE, and are evaluated by veteran trainer Hutch Morgan, who agrees to let them try out before a SmackDown taping at The O2 Arena, where they meet WWE legend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Shortly before her tryout, Saraya adopts the stage name "Paige".
Morgan brings the trainees to WrestleMania XXX, where The Rock greets Paige and tells her she will make her Raw debut the following night against the current WWE Divas Champion, AJ Lee. Paige makes her Raw debut, where she again freezes, and takes a severe beating from Lee before finally turning the tables and beating the champion. Claiming Lee's title for herself, she proudly declares that "this is MY house now!" as her family and friends cheer her victory back home'
The film received rave reviews when it was first released and we are sure that many wrestling fans who have yet to see this will enjoy this when it is screened in under a weeks time.
(Andy Scott accepts the Hall of Fame Award on behalf of his late great uncle Chick Knight)
(Andy Scott meets Paul Bristow, MP for Peterborough at the Reunion)
Following on from the 2021 Reunion we have a few copies left our our 30th Anniversary Souvenir Programme.
(LDN Wrestlings Managing Director Sanjay Bagga pays tribute to Frank Rimer)
In February we lost a man who, alongside Wayne Bridges, was the backbone of the British Wrestlers Reunion for 20 years. Frank Rimer was much missed at this years event although many of his friends and colleagues attended and paid tribute to him.
Sanjay Bagga, Managing Director of LDN Wrestling is one man who owes Frank everything after he helped him get his wrestling promotion off of the ground 17 years ago. Frank was very instrumental in not only bringing young wrestlers into Sanjays promotion in the early days but also got many of the great legends such as Johnny Saint, Kendo Nagasaki, Fit Finlay, Brian Maxine, Johnny Kidd and many others to work for LDN Wrestling to help build the company. Frank also co-promoted shows with Sanjay at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon such as The Mick McManus Tribute Show and Johnny Saints Retirement Show and volunteered his services as Master of Ceremonies on many occasions when the need arose. Whenever LDN Wrestling promoted a Legends Show it was Frank who was always on hand to ensure the show went without a hitch. In short, Frank was a great friend to Sanjay and the whole LDN Wrestling family and he is much missed by them all.
At this years Reunion, Sanjay paid his own tribute to Frank giving not only an insight into his time with Frank but also reminding everyone in attendance just what Frank had done for the wrestling industry throughout his illustrious career.
You can see Sanjays wonderful tribute to Frank in the video below.
Over the last 30 years the British Wrestlers Reunion have seen literally all of the greats of British wrestling attend our event. However, over the years we have also welcomed other dignitaries such as celebrities, councillors and MPs and this year we were joined by Paul Bristow who is the MP for Peterborough.
Paul is, and has been for many years, a great fan of British wrestling and indeed in 2019 attended an LDN Wrestling event in Peterborough where, after Joey Scott had made comments about the city, entered the ring to take exception to what had been said. Such was the impact of this that the following day Sky News interviewed Paul about his impromptu ring appearance and the national press also reported on it. As a result of this british wrestling got some great coverage and as Paul said himself it did wonders for him as the Prime Minister now knows who he is.
Paul has always been very good in promoting all that is good in British wrestling and was recently involved in the 'Clean Up Wrestling' debate which was discussed in Parliament. Indeed, at the Reunion Paul offered his services in the future should we need any assistance with ongoing events.
We were delighted to present Paul with one of our 'Ring of Friendship' Awards for all his hard work in promoting wrestling. The presentation of Pauls award and his acceptance speech can be seen in the video below.
Although we had expected Paul to stay at the Reunion for a short time he actually stayed for over 3 hours and took to facebook and twitter saying how much he had enjoyed the day, once again promoting all that we do. We are glad Paul enjoyed the day and hope to see him again in the near future.
(Jane and Norman Wellington accept the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award)
On Sunday 8th August at the 30th Annual British Wrestlers Reunion the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award was presented for the very first time.
This award was the brainchild of Sarah Bridges who wanted an award created in memory of her late husband, the former 3 time World Heavyweight Champion and Reunion host Wayne Bridges.
The first recipient of the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award was Cam Wellington, a young up and coming and very talented wrestler who sadly lost his life at just 19 years of age after contracting Covid.
We were very honoured that Cams parents, Norman and Jane Wellington, attended this years Reunion and accepted the award on behalf of their late son. Although the award was due to be presented to them by Sarah Bridges this was of course not posible due to Sarahs condition and so Bills sister, Esther Stone, did the honours on Sarahs behalf.
After receiving the award Jane and Norman stated the following:-
'Thank you so much for a lovely day for honouring our Cam with such a lovely award we are eternally grateful. Also thank you to Esther for presenting us with the award your words were lovely and will always be in our hearts. Thank you all.xxx'
We know that the award has taken pride of place in the Wellington home and we happy to have been able to do something in memory of Cam.
(Cam Wellington was the first recipent of the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award)
(Frank Jnr (centre) and his wife Jess (2nd from the left) are joined by the Yearsley Family)
(Frank Rimer Jnr and his wife Jess receive an award from Andrew Bryden, organiser of the Wrestlers Reunion Scotland)
As you will all know we recently reported the very sad news that referee Bob Stafford had passed away. We were very honoured that his daughter Chelsea joined us at this years Reunion where we paid tribute to her late father and she has told us that it was an honour to come down in her dad's place and it definitely helped being around people and hearing the wonderful words said about him.
Bobs fuenral details have now been released and these are as follows:-
Date: Thursday 26th August 2021
Everyone is welcome to attend and pay their final respects and we sincerely hope that he gets the wrestling send off that he rightly deserves.
As you will all know this year we celebrated 30 glorious years. Our President since the inception of the Reunion has been the great legend Joe D'Orazio who a few weeks ago turned 99 years of age.
Sadly, Joe was unable to attend this years Reunion but he did send his well wishes and asked that the following statement be read out. This was done at the Reunion by organiser Ken Sowden:-
A few Words From Joe D’Orazio
Welcome everyone here to the 30th Anniversary of The British Wrestlers reunion. Ken Sowden, who has worked so hard with others to put this reunion together today has asked if I would like to say a few words to you all.
I would love to say that I am delighted to be here today and see you all, but sadly I am not able to join you in person, but am very much with you all in spirit.
Wrestling has always been such a big part of my life, and I am so pleased that the reunion is still up and running. Many of the big names that I remember are sadly no longer with us, but it is so nice to hear that their families still keep in touch with the reunion and their memories live on, and indeed that British Wrestling still continues. We need the young ones to keep the momentum going, and they are very much doing so.
I have had the pleasure to work with some colourful characters over the years and have had good laughs along the way. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes keeping the wrestling reunion going and I am so grateful to all the organisers who have worked tirelessly to keep it running
Sadly, we have seen the death of Frank Rimer this year, and Wayne Bridges last year… their contribution to the wrestling reunion have been immense ---dear friends and remembered fondly by us all. I was delighted to hear that this year’s reunion is to be held as a tribute to Frank, and that there will now be a “Wayne Bridges memorial award” given out every year –a deserved and coveted award I am sure. Also, a big thank you to Sarah Bridges for always being the perfect host, and I am sure that she is very much in our thoughts and hearts today and wishing her a continued recovery. Sadly we have seen a few of our fraternity and friends passing this year, and we remember them all. Most recently my dear friend Bob Stafford who regularly phoned me and kept me updated on you Oldies…. A true gentleman always putting others first, always there to give continued support to the wrestling scene, his family should be rightly proud. I would love to mention so many others out there but, at 99 years old, I am sure you appreciate there is a lot of ground to cover and my memory isn’t too good these days and would not want to miss anyone out!!
I hope the sun is shining down on you all today, but if not, we are used to British weather and I am sure it won’t stop you having a good time! So, it only remains for me to say that on this 30th anniversary keep “strengthening the ring of friendship” ---catch up with your friends, make some new friends, remember the old times, and enjoy the years ahead.
Joe D’Orazio and family
Or for those who know me otherwise
Giuseppe Augusto Antonio Loreto Mario Scala. !!
Some lovely words from our President and we are so grateful to him and his daughter for taking the time to send these to us.
As you all know it has now become customary to present awards at our Reunion and this year was no exception. This year we presented accolades to the following people:-
Hall of Fame Awards
Roy St Clair
Crusher Mason (Posthumously)
Chick Knight (Posthumously)
Johnny Peters (Posthumously)
Wayne Bridges Memorial Award
Services to Wrestling Award
Ring of Friendship Award
Paul Bristow MP
We thank all of those above and/or their families for attending and collecting their accolades which were well deserved.
On Friday 6th August the lady who has hosted the Reunion for a remarkable 28 years, the lovely Sarah Bridges, had her birthday and we are sure you all wish her well.
As many of you will know Sarah was taken ill in mid June and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where she remained until earlier this week.
Sarah has now been moved to a different ward and is now awake and talking (albeit intermittently).
We all know Sarah is a fighter and we hope and pray that things improve for her.
A further update will be given on her condition at this Sundays Reunion so lets do this for her and show her how much she loved and missed by us all.
On Saturday 31st July we reported the news that legendary referee Bob Stafford had lost his battle with cancer and very sadly passed away. Since the news broke tributes have flooded in to this wonderful man and we feel it appropriate to share them with you all starting with one from our esteemed President Joe D'Orazio:-
a great friend, a true gentleman, sadly missed, I thank you dearly for all the phone calls, your family must be proud to have had such a caring man in their lives. RIP Bobby . Joe D'Orazio and family xx
(Bob enjoys a joke with friends Mel Stuart and Mal Sanders at The Bridges)
(Bob received a Services to Wrestling Award at the 2017 Reunion)
Over the last few years both the British Wrestlers Reunion and the Wrestlers Reunion Scotland have produced a souvenir programme which they have sold with great success on their respective Reunion days. Such is the demand for these prestigious programmes that they more often than not sell out and as both Reunions send the 2021 programmes for print we do not see that this year will be any different.
British Wrestlers Reunion Programme
(The Boys are back in town)
For any wrestler or wrestling fan of the golden era you would have been in for a pleasant surprise if you were in Eastbourne on Tuesday 27th July as some of the famous stars from tv wrestling were in town for a catch up and to reminisce about old times.
Johnny Kidd, Lee Bronson, Mal Sanders, Eddie Riley, Mel Stuart and Steve Grey who have been friends and colleagues for decades visited the Eastbourne Winter Gardens where they all wrestled many times over the years. The ex grapplers then all enjoyed an ice cream which as you can see from the picture looks delicious.
We are sure that many stories of the glory days were told during their time together and the group also raised a glass to Joe D'Orazio who was celebrating his 99th birthday on the day.
A good time was had by all and we are sure that a further get together will be on the cards in the not too distant future.
Having fun and ice cream !!!
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send the warmest of wishes to our President and wrestling legend Joe D'Orazio as he celebrate his 99th birthday. In honour of Joes birthday we pay our own tribute to him and look back at his astonishing career as he celebrates his special day.
Joe D’Orazio was born on the 27th July 1922 in Bermondsey, South London, of Italian parents.
Joe was brought up in a very tough working environment with five others becoming professional wrestlers. Joe was educated at English Martyrs Roman Catholic School in Walworth, attending school with Harry Geoghegan who went on to become a fine wrestling referee. At 13 years of age, Joe was elected by his classmates as the youngest ever Captain of the school. Joe’s best friend until his untimely death in 2003 was the South London iron man and for many years Mick McManus’s tag partner Steve Logan.
Joe’s Grandfather owned what was considered to be the best fish and chip shop in South London and this is where Joe worked until the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Luftwaffe’s horrific blitz on London, before enlisting in the Royal Air Force, Joe worked as a member of a demolition squad, knocking down bombed buildings in the City of London.
The war meant the parting of the ways for best pals Joe and Steve Logan. Joe was to spend 4 years in the Royal Air Force air/sea rescue unit, while Steve was away with Montgomery’s 8th army, serving as a desert rat in El Alamein, but they managed to keep in contact by mail, throughout the war, and afterwards renewed their old friendship.
On leaving the armed forces, Joe took up Judo and Steve took to boxing as well as Judo and he joined the South London Judo Society, under the instruction of George Chew, and in just over a year went from novice to Black Belt 1st Dan. Joe and Steve were key members of the 4 man Judo team that took the interclub Judo team title in 1948 at the Chelsea Town Hall.
Joe became a Professional wrestler in 1948, closely followed by his old friend Steve Logan whilst Joe’s cousin Mike Marino was already established in the wrestling business.
His first professional match was against the New Zealander Russ Bishop in Poole Dorset. Joe’s abilities were quickly recognised, and he was soon in great demand by all the top Promoters to wrestle on their shows. By 1950, Joe was made a honorary member of Gruppo Autonomo Lotta Giapponese, and travelled to Rome for the presentation of his membership enrolment. For the next 20 incredible years, he wrestled all over
Britain and Europe. His tag partner during this hey day of grappling, was the inimitable entrepreneur Paul Lincoln,who was sometimes known as the fearsome Doctor Death, but doubled up with Joe as Togo Tani. However, after several injuries, he decided to retire to ‘avoid becoming an invalid for life’.
Joes last Professional bout was against the legendary George Kidd in 1968.
Unable to shake off his passion for wrestling which was in his blood Joe returned as a referee, only to break his nose twice in the first six months. However, he persevered, and as in his earlier wrestling career, refereeing took him to many places including Blenheim Palace, Olympia, Café Royal, , Lyceum Ballroom, Paisley Ice Rink, Paris, Belgium, Berlin’s Big Top, Hanover Big Top, King Hussein Stadium in Jordan, Italy and many more.
For a further 20 years, he was a referee at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall Tournaments,becoming a favourite of his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, with whom he became quite friendly.
Joe has made many friends in wrestling over the years. Despite their often fearsome uncompromising ring image and reputations, wrestlers have a common bond and their loyalty and enduring friendships are admirable.
Away from the ring, Joe became a member of Mickey Woods ‘Tough Guys Unlimited’ stunt team.He did lots of film and television stunt work, a highlight coming when he doubled for Hollywood star J.Carroll Naish whilst filming the TV series ‘The New Adventures of Charlie Chan’. He also stunted and acted in ‘Camp on Blood Island’ and ‘Terror of the Tongs’ , and appeared in the film ‘Geordie’. Joe worked in Rome on ‘Quo Vadis’ , 'A matter of Honour', and was a gunslinger in the Wyatt Earp Show, when it came to the U.K. from America, plus a starring part in 'Night and the City' with Richard Widmark.
Other television work included ‘King and Castle’, ‘Flight through the Branches’, ‘Young Charlie Chaplin’, ‘Blind Justice’, ‘Radical Chambers’, ‘Story Board’, ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’, and more recently : Londons Burning’, ‘The Bill’, Henry Kelly’s early morning breakfast show, He also starred in one episode of Humphrey Burton’s ‘The Age of Aquarius –The Wrestling Poet’.
On radio, Joe worked on the ‘Late Night Show’, with Monty Modlyn, and was on the panel with Monty and Anne Shelton, which ended up with Joe singing a duet of ‘My Old Man said follow the van ‘ with Miss Piggy. Up until then his role had been to answer listeners questions on wrestling !
Following the sad demise of the TV wrestling and the death of favourite and charity worker extraordinaire Catweazle from cancer, Joe realised that there was a need for wrestlers to hold a regular get together and not just at funerals. Mal Mason subsequently held a gathering in his Kent garden, and then Joe decided to Found the British Wrestlers Reunion with the aid of Tony Scarlo . Their next attempt several weeks later saw a few more wrestlers attend, with the result that the event was to be moved to London in the pub owned by the great dazzler himself Joe Cornelius. One year later, the Dazzler emigrated and Wayne Bridges assisted by his wife Sarah Bridges took over as hosts, a role that they jointly held until Waynes death last year although Sarah continues in the role. The Reunion with Joe at the helm, has grown out of all proportion and flourishes to this day to have become the largest Annual gathering of its type in the world, only exceeded by the Cauliflower Alley Club in the United States As a mark of recognition for all his efforts in achieving this remarkable feat, Joe was made Life President in 2003.
A rather lesser known facet of the great mans unending list of talents, is that Joe D’Orazio is an accomplished artist/painter, selling a lot of his art work in exhibitions, with the rewarding result of him being recruited many years ago by the Teachers of Crispin House, an Adult Training Centre for the mentally handicapped in Bermondsey, and where he worked full-time for over a decade.He surprised everyone, not only by teaching severely handicapped people to paint, but also exhibiting their work and selling a number of paintings. Joe’s students have exhibited at South London Gallery in the Park, Southwark, The Stock Exchange, St Johns, Piccadilly, Royal College of Art, The New Cross Art House, and Southwark Cathedral. Joe is constantly asked by Handicapped schools all over London to give art seminars .He was originally introduced to this rewarding work by the great Steve Grey , who has also shared a lifetime career in the care Business.
As a writer, Joe is a successful writer of prose, and in 1971 wrote ‘The Who’s Who of Wrestling’ with Co-Author : Pam Edwards. A book which has become an all-time favourite reference manual on grappling. The book was written in parallel with his refereeing career, he worked for Dale- Martin Promotions publicity Department. His work included the preparation of write-ups and programme material for all their shows, which in those days could often run to as many as 10 per day! Joe also turned out a weekly column in ‘Business’ and for many local papers throughout Great Britain
Joe D’Orazio was a researcher for the ‘TV Times’, ‘Guide to Wrestling’ ,and compiler of ‘The Cover Men of Wrestling’ . He supplied copy to ;Wrestling review’, ‘The Wrestling Monthly‘Weekly Sporting review’, and ‘Show Business’, ‘Smash’, ‘Ring Wrestling USA’, ‘Tiger Annual’, ‘Beano Annual’, ‘The Royal Albert Hall Centenary Compendium’, plus countless other publications worldwide.
As a celebrated poet, he has had many books of poetry published, and continues to write. To date, he has written over 300 poems. Like ‘Ode to Mad Hannah’, his long masterpiece. Many are deep ,dark, meaty and haunting . Some of his lyrics inspired by his lovely Italian born wife: Tina, are soft and touching. He says “I never thought about poetry until I met her”. His work is varied, sonnets ranging from love through odes to tramps and meths drinkers, ‘Old Beppo the Potter’,‘an Italian Resistance Worker’, ‘Mick McManus’, ‘The Income Tax Man’, and ‘Tell them I sleep’.
Shakespeare was his favourite writer, and he writes only to satisfy himself , quoting ‘Once I have the first line, the rest is easy’. Ideas come at any time- even when he is buffeted between ring baddies. His pockets bulge with instant first lines scrawled on odd scraps of paper.Joe firmly believes “The world would be a better place if we all spoke poetry to each other”
These days this God of the Mat world, this awe inspiring wrestling/ Judo playing athlete turned referee, poet, writer, artist, painter, film actor, TV actor, Reunion President is still busily writing and loves nothing better than to reminisce about his varied career.
(Joe and Mick McManus at the Reunion)
(Joe and Wayne Bridges at a charity event)
Whether wrestling fans knew him as Judo Al Hayes, the White Angel or Lord Alfred Hayes there is no doubt that the man was one of the most recognisable wrestlers on both sides of the Atlantic and on the 21st July we remember Al who passed away on this day in 2005.
Alfred Hayes was born on the 8th August of 1928 and as a youngster this phenomenal athlete trained in the art of Judo alongside fellow legends Joe D'Orazio and Steve Logan where he was to become the youngest man in history at that time to gain a black belt in the sport.
Following his Judo success Alfred was trained in the sport of professional wrestling by Sir Athol Oakley making his in ring debut in 1950, he quickly made a name for himself with classic bouts with the likes of Bert Assirati, Mike Marino and Dr Death. During this time Alfie and his then tag partner Ray Hunter helped to introduce tag wrestling to Europe from the USA, this form of wrestling became so popular that the pair were able to command huge salaries.
Throughout the 1960's as 'Judo' Al Hayes he had a successful run as the Southern Heavyweight Champion. The next phase of his illustrious career saw him turn to Promoting working alongside Paul Lincoln with whom he filled halls all over Britain. By the early 1970's Alfred had achieved all he could in Britain and set his sites across the pond to the USA.
During the 1970's he made an astonishing impact on the business in the USA claiming many of the NWA's titles in the process. In 1982 Lord Alfred Hayes made his debut in Vince McMahons WWF however only a year later was forced to retire from the ring due to severe Arthritis, brought on by years of wrestling.
He eventually re-signed with the WWF as a Manager and Announcer managing some of the top teams of the time. His career highlight as an announcer came when he called a bout at Wrestlemania 2. Throughout the 1980's he was a permanent fixture on WWF programming conducting interviews with all the major names of the time such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and the British Bulldogs.
In 1990 Alfred was hit by a speeding car while crossing the street outside the WWF TV studios and was left seriously injured. His injuries eventually led to him having several vertebrae removed from his spine shrinking his height from 6 feet to 5 feet 6 inches tall.
At the end of 1996 after an amazing 46 year career Alfred Hayes retired to his ranch in Dallas Texas.
On 21st July 2005 Alfred passed away peacefully after battling a long illness, he will go down in history not only as being a true innovator of the sport but also as one of the legitimately hardest men to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots.
Alfred was a lifelong friend of Wayne Bridges and the men remained in contact right up until his death. To this day we continue to keep in contact with Alfreds daughter who still resides in the USA.
Alfred is much missed by those who knew him and may he RIP.
(Alfred and his family relaxing with Wayne Bridges)
The Cauliflower Alley Club have advised us that their President, B. Brian Blair has undergone a nine hour surgery in his home state of Florida.
Mr. Blair has had excruciating pain for a while now and on Friday 16th July he underwent his second 9 hour long operation on his back, this will mark the 19th he's had which he believes is a direct result from his years in the professional wrestling industry.
The CAC is happy to report that Brian is now out of surgery and his doctor's have said that all went well. He is recovering in the ICU unit and will be moved into his room shortly.
The CAC have released the following statement following their Presidents operation:-
'On behalf of Brian, his family and all of us here at the Cauliflower Alley Club we would like to thank you for your prayers, well wishes and positive vibes as our President. Please keep Brian in your thoughts as he regains his strength and gets on the path to a complete and, hopefully, speedy recovery!'
We here at the British Wrestlers Reunion would also like to send Brian our very best wishes for a quick and full recovery and hope that he is fit and well enough to attend the CAC Reunion in September.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to have to report that 'Cyanide' Sid Cooper passed away on Tuesday 6th July. Sid had recently been admitted to a care home and his passing has come as a great shock to everyone who had the honour to know him.
Sid Cooper was one of the most recognisable faces in British wrestling during the 1970s and 1980s having made a household name for himself mainly thanks to his endless television appearances.
Sid, who hailed from Queensbury, Yorkshire had a number of jobs prior to entering the professional wrestling ranks and had, according to reports, been sacked from most of them so Sid turned to professional wrestling, he could break the rules and mostly get away with it, this appealed to Sid and Sid appealed to the fans.
Having started his career for independent promoters in the North of England under the ring name of Norman Cooper, the long haired scowled face Cooper was soon facing top opposition, he was the perfect villain and the fans loved him. Sid was having a modicum of success as a singles wrestler and was soon brought to the attention of Joint Promotions who took an instant like to the man and his ring style and signed him to a contract, finally Sid had made the big time.
Norman Cooper became Sid Cooper and on the 25th May 1963 in a bout from Wembley Sid had his first taste of national exposure when he faced Zoltan Boscik in a televised contest. Sid was successful and won the match by two falls to one against one of the best lightweights in the UK. This was to be Sids first televised appearance that was to last 25 years, his final match being in October 1988 two months before ITV wrestling came to an end.
As Sid was becoming a trustworthy and loyal employee to Joint Promotions he was given the opportunity to step into the ring with some of the biggest stars of the day including the likes of Johnny Saint, Steve Grey, Jon Cortez, Catweazle, Lenny Hurst to name but a few. Coopers rulebending style against the likes of these wrestlers made for thrilling contests, the fans booed the man from Queensbury when he entered te ring and booed him even louder the more he broke the rules always protesting his innocence to the referees.
Towards the end of the late 1960s Cooper was to move away from singles competition when the promoters teamed him up with fellow Yorkshireman Alan Dennison, the team known as The Dennisons, had a lot of success in the ring and wrestled the likes of the Cortez Brothers, The Royals, The Yorkshire Terriers amongst others. The team was disbanded after a few years when Cooper moved to London but they had definately left their mark as one of the best tag teams of the day. Whilst Cooper would go on to form tag teams with other partners, most famously Joe Murphy as The Roughnecks, he never achieved the success that he had with Alan Dennison.
With British wrestling going through a revival during the late 1970s Cooper was very much in demand, a lighter villain in the ring he was soon main eventing as regular opposition to Big Daddy in tag team action over the next ten years. However, Cooper continued with his solo career and on the 23rd May 1985 at The Colston Hall in Bristol Sid was to win his only championship when he defeated Danny Collins for the British Welterweight Title. Cooper was to hold this belt until the 26th August 1985 when he was defeated by Danny Collins who regained the title.
Sid Cooper although portrayed as a baddie in the ring was one of the much loved wrestlers by the fans. Sid, always a nightmare for referees, often ended up in contests not against another wrestler but aganst the actual referees, notably matches against Max Ward and Ken Lazenby, as expected Sid was always on the losing side to the delight of the fans.
Although Sid remained a full time professional, as his career was starting to slow down he became one of the top trainers in the UK and taught many of the up and coming stars of the 1980s who, in the event that televised wrestling had not come to an end, would have gone on to great things in the sport.
Sid Cooper had a long and varied career, well known and well loved. Unlike his in ring performance Sid was a very shy and private man and we were very honoured when he agreed to attend the Reunion in 2013 for the first time.
Our condolences go to Sids family and friends at ths very sad time and he has now been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky.
May Sid now RIP.
(Sid Cooper has lunch with Johnny Kidd and Steve Grey in 2019)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to Monika Markwart who, during the 1980s as Doctor Monika Kaiser, managed and was the wife of Scottish Heavyweight, the late Drew McDonald who has been admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke.
Monikas long time friend and former wrestler 'Naughty' Nicky Monroe has advised us that Monika was admitted to hospital and is receiving treatment after suffering a stroke.
We send our very best wishes to Monika and hope that she makes a full and speedy recovery.
(Monika and her late husband Drew McDonald)
(Andrew working on a National Trust advertising campaign)
Andrew Bryden, or as he is far better known in wrestling circles Dale Storm, has had a varied career whether it be in the squared circle, as a published author, or appearing in numerous television series and films and that is just for starters.
Andrew hung up his boots a good few years ago now but is still very involved in the wrestling business as the organiser of the Wrestlers Reunion Scotland, the newest kid on the block when it comes to Wrestlers Reunions but one which, under Andrews stewardship, has already more than established itself as one of the top Reunions regularly attracting in excess of 100 wrestlers and fans at their yearly event in Ayr.
Away from wrestling Andrew continues with his media work and has recently finished an advertising campaign for none other than the National Trust. Andrew will be seen in various outlets advertising the wonderful work that the National Trust currently do and on the 27th June one of his articles appeared in the National Press when it was published in the Scottish Sunday Mail.
In August Andrew and his wife together with his former tag team partner Jim Starsky and his wife will be heading South when they will be joining us all at the Kent Reunion. Our four friends are travelling down purely to attend the Reunion and we very much look forward to seeing them all on Sudnay 8th August.
We send our very best wishes to Andrew and wish him all the best with whatever is next instore for him and his remarkable career.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send the warmest of wishes to the legend that is Johnny Saint who, on the 29th June, celebrated his 80th birthday.
Johnny is considered by many to be one of the greatest wrestlers ever to lace up a pair of boots and is one of the nicest and most genuine men in the wrestling business today.
Trained by the legendary George Kidd and Billy Robinson, Johnny had his first bout on his 18th birthday in 1959 in Tynemouth against Colin McDonald and although the youngster was full of nerves he overcame these and went on to have a career lasting over 50 years.
On 3rd November 1976 Johnny defeated one of his greatest rivals Jim Breaks to claim the vacant World Lightweight Championship. Johnny was destined to hold the title, on and off, for a quarter of a century and his rivalry with Breaks saw some of the greatest bouts ever seen in the UK.
In 2016 Johnny Saint was inducted into the British Wrestlers Hall of Fame and in recent times has worked as a trainer and Commissioner for WWE UK.
We hope that Johnny has a great day and enjoys all of the celebrations that will come his way.
(Johnny Saint addresses the crowd at the 2020 Reunion)
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to report the passing of Northern Lightweight Jackie Robinson who died on the 27th June 2021.
Jackie was of course a member of the famous Robinson family following in the wrestling footsteps of his father Alf and his cousin Billy.
Jackie first turned professional in 1969 and had a twenty year ring career which saw him face many of the top names in his weight division during this time. In April 1983 Jackie won the European Lightweight Belt, a title he would hold on three separate occasions losing it for the final time to Jim Breaks in February 1985.
After retirement Jackie continued with his interest in wrestling and helped many up and coming wrestlers get their first foot on the ladder in the industry and he was also a regular attendee at the Wrestlers Reunions, regularly accompanying his good friend Colin Joynson to the Kent event.
Jackie will be sadly missed by all who knew him and he has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky. Our condolences go to Jackies family and friends at this sad time and may he now RIP.
(Frank Rimer and Jackie Robinson at the 2016 Reunion)
As sales of London's Lovable Villain, the Chick Knight Story continue, copies of the book have been despatched around the World. Author and great nephew of Chick Knight, Andy Scott, has sent us an update on the promotion of the book and the Hammersmith Bridge plaque as follows:-
'Just to let you know a couple of things.
I was on BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms programme on the 23rd June talking about the Hammersmith Stadium, Chick, the book etc., which was great publicity and quite by chance.
Also, on Thursday 24th June, I’ve just approved the text for the commemorative plaque which will be made and go on a bench very close to Hammersmith Bridge which is marking Chick’s double lifesaving feat in June, 1930'
This is great news and it finally looks as if Chick will get the recognition that he deserves for his heroic action.
Andy Scott will also be attending this years Reunion on Sunday 8th August when he will finally be presented with Chicks Hall of Fame Certificate that was announced last year.
(Melissa and Sabu working for LDN Wrestling in 2019)
We are saddened to receive news from our friends at the Cauliflower Alley Club in America that Melissa Coates aka Super Genie has passed away just a few days after her 50th birthday.
Melissa Coates was trained at Killer Kowalski’s school in Massachusetts and also trained at Rick Bassman’s UPW Academy after turning to pro wrestling following a career in the bodybuilding industry. She was employed for a short while by the WWE before leaving to work for independent promoters.
In 2014 Melissa began managing one of the hardcore legends of wrestling Sabu as Super Genie. She appeared with him in Impact Wrestling as well as other promoters and in 2019 the two toured the UK working for several promotions during their stay.
In late 2020 Melissa was forced to undergo an amputation of her leg and a Go Fund Me campaign was launched to help her with medical expenses.
Melissa Coates passed away on the 23rd June 2021, her cause of death is not known but she was posting just a few hours earlier on her social media pages.
We send our condolences to Melissas family and friends at this sad time and may she now RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our sincere condolences to Ricky Knight and the entire Knight family on the passing of Rickys father Charlie Frary on the 22nd June.
Charlie was a keen amateur boxer in his younger days and was a former referee for World Association of Wrestling, officiating his final match at the grand age of 90. Charlie was also the current President of WAW.
Although Charlie had been suffering from ill health for a short time his passing nevertheless has come as a great shock for the Knight family and our thoughts are with them all at this very sad time.
The British Wrestlers Reunion wish to announce that at this years event on Sunday 8th August a new award will be introduced for the very first time.
The award is to be known as 'The Wayne Bridges Memorial Award' and will be presented at the Reunion each and every year going forward. The award is in memory of the former 3 time World Heavyweight Champion and also our host who was one of the greatest heavyweights the UK has ever produced. This new award has the full backing of Sarah Bridges who will be making the presentation at the Reunion.
After consultation we can now confirm that the first ever recipient of the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award is Cameron Wellington. Sadly, Cameron passed away last November at the age of just 19 after contracting Covid. Cam started his wrestling training as a young child with PWL progressing from their junior class to their adult class and went on to wrestle around the UK as well as a trip to Portugal and had his whole life and career ahead of him.
Cams parents, Jane and Norman, have been contacted regarding the award and have sent us the following statement:-
'We are truly honoured that the Reunion is to honour Cam and we will do our absolute best to be there. It is absolutely amazing we will be very happy thankyou once again for honouring our Cam he would have been absolutely over the moon. thankyou jane and norman xxx'
We as a Reunion are very honoured to award Cameron in this way and we hope that his parents are able to attend on the 8th August to accept this honour.
(Cameron Wellington is to be the first ever recipient of the Wayne Bridges Memorial Award)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to the Queen of the Ring, Mitzi Mueller, who has undergone a hip operation.
Mitzi had a wrestling career that took her around the world to great acclaim and was the most well known female wrestler in the country for many years winning numerous championships during her near 25 years in the ring. Mitzi also made numerous appearances on television throughout her career and was one of the most popular wrestlers on the circuit.
In retirement from the ring Mitzi has certainly remained in the wrestling spotlight as the wife of All Star Wrestling Promoter Brian Dixon, a business that has well and truly now become a family affair.
We hope that Mitzi makes a full recovery and is soon back to good health and pain free.
(Mitzi and Mick McManus at the Reunion)
Leather Lena was one of the great female wrestlers of her or indeed any generation and had a illustrious careeer that only very few can emulate. However, like everyone retirement from the ring was inevitable but despite no longer competing Lena or Barbara Ann Swan has kept herself extremely busy and has now had her artwork on show at Grayson Perrys Art Club.
Barbara was very excited to have her work selected and even got to meet the man himself as stated in a recent social media post:-
'The day I met Grayson Perry. I still can't believe that my art was selected for Grayson's Art Club and that I actually met the man himself and what an amazing down to earth guy he is. The exhibition is on until the end of October, tickets are free but you have to book through Manchester Art Gallery web site. North West tonight will be doing a feature on the exhibition'
We are delighted for Barbara that her work is on display especially in view of all the hard work that she puts in. Barbara is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet in the wrestling business and she deserves all the success that she receives.
(Barbara has her name on the Wall of Fame alongside all the other exhibitors)
As you will all know we, along with our friends over at the Wrestling Heritage site, have for the last two years been supporting not only the publication of Chick Knights lifestory but also the Petition to get Chick recognised for his heroic actions on the Hammersmith Bridge.
We are delighted to now be able to confirm that Hammersmith & Fulham Council have given the green light for a plaque to be erected on behalf of Chick and this will be done in the near future. Chicks great nephew and author of the book Andy Scott has confirmed this plus given us an update on other news and this is as follows:-
'Just wanted to update you all that at the end of last week, following 2 years of campaigning over 450 signatures and 91 years of waiting, Hammersmith and Fulham Council have now given the green light for a plaque in recognition of my great uncle Chick's double lifesaving feat in the Thames at Hammersmith Bridge in 1930. This is fantastic news.
The exact location is yet to be decided, but they have said they will try to get it sited as close to the Bridge as possible, and the exact date/wording etc., all still to be confirmed. Now we just need Gibraltar to do the same!!
As you will all know over the last 12 months or so we have kept you updated on the condition of our good friend and colleague Barry Howard who was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a number of treatments as a result of this.
We have now received word from Barry as to his current condition and this is what he tells us:-
'After an awful year of uncertainty, today I was given the all clear by my Surgeon and Oncologist.
(Barry and his good friend Eddie Kidd)
(Mike prepares for a bout early in his career)
We are always delighted to hear from wrestlers from the glory days of British wrestling as to what they are doing and how they are keeping and so were very pleased when 'Marvellous' Mike Bennett got in contact with his former colleague, the legendary Johnny Kidd recently where the two reminisced about old times.
Mike was trained for the ring by wrestler turned referee Joe Hill and also Ernest Baldwin the former British Heavyweight Champion and had his first professional bout against Steve Best in March 1964 when he was just 18 years of age. Mike had a career which spanned over 20 years and no matter whether he was billed as a fan favorite or not he always gave 100% in the ring. During his illustrious career Mike opposed some of the great names of the era including the likes of Alan Miquet, Jim Breaks, Mick McMichael, Jackie Pallo, Adrian Street, Mick McManus, Ken Joyce and Alan Dennison to name but a few as well as making a number of appearances on ITVs World of Sport.
Mike is now resident in Australia and has been for a number of years but he has spoken to Johnny fondly about his time in the UK wrestling business and what he is up to now.
Mike now runs his own transport business in Australia and he has two vehicles which he uses to do removals interstate and this keeps him busy. Although these are tough times for everyone we are pleased to hear that Mike is doing well with this.
Like many of the wrestlers from back in the day, many years of wrestling has taken its toll on Mikes body and he now suffers with knee, hip and lower leg pain from time to time and says that if its not his hip then it's his knee and vice versa.
Mike, like many of the wrestlers, have numerous stories of his time in the wrestling business and some very interesting ones they are too, some of which we could not possibly publish here but entertaining nevertheless.
Mike fondly remembers his time in British wrestling and wishes sends his regards to his fans joking if he actually had any (of course he did) and also the boys who he worked with over the years.
We are delighted to hear that Mike is doing so well and we thank Johnny Kidd for passing on the information to us. We know that Johnny is keen to keep in contact with Mike and therefore we will hopefully now be able to keep you all regularly updated.
(Another victory for Mike)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send very best wishes to 'The Dazzler' Joe Cornelius who celebrated his 93rd birthday on Saturday 1st May.
Joe, who was trained by Reunion President Joe D'Orazio, wrestled between 1953 and 1967 and made over 25 television appearances.
(Joe Cornelius with Anthony Peters who is the son of Joes former tag team partner Johnny Peters who visited recently)
Joe was also the host of the Reunion before Wayne Bridges took over the role in 1994 and as you can see the two heavyweights were the best of friends in every sense of the word !!!.
Happy Birthday Joe, hope you have a great day.
(Joe and Wayne Bridges larking around)
It is hard to believe that this coming December it will be 33 years since the weekly wrestling action disappeared from ITV, this is actually the same amount of time that it was on the small screen.
During the 1960s and 70s it was hard to imagine that wrestling would not be shown such was its popularity but alas all good things come to an end and in 1988 it was farewell to tv wrestling on ITV.
Over the years many great bouts were broadcast on World of Sport and the stand alone wrestling shows. These bouts were previously listed on itvwrestling.co.uk with a great deal of research being carried out by the admin of the site John Lister. This site has details of all of the bouts broadcast from 1955 to 1988 and you can view these for free. John has now updated the site and has advised as follows:-
'I've just finished a big update to the match videos embedded at itvwrestling.co.uk to replace any outdated links and add links to any new matches other people have uploaded. I've also been through my recordings from the reruns on The Wrestling Channel (and a few other tapes/DVDs of original recordings I've acquired) and uploaded around 160 matches which weren't on YouTube. I may have missed a few, but in theory any ITV match (1955-1988, non-WWF) that's on YouTube should be available as a video in the relevant part of the match listings pages on the itvwrestling site'.
Now that John has uploaded many more videos to the site it is the one and only place to go to for your results, bout information and actual footage of many of the bouts shown and we wish him all the best as the site continues to grow.
You can access the site by clicking on the following link:-
London's Loveable Villain - The true life story of Chick 'Cocky' Knight continues to be a huge hit with copies flying out of the door to all parts of the World, there are now just 20 copies left from the third print run. Author Andy Scott has now given us an update which is as follows:-
'Afternoon all another busy week as we had 12 copies of London's Loveable Villain go off and now in stock and available to purchase at The Back Page in Newcastle, a copy has also gone into The Bookshop in Loughton, a signed copy is now in the window at The Barnes Bookshop, Barnes, London and we got to taste The Haymaker cocktail at Sam's Riverside Restaurant and Bar in Hammersmith. The Haymaker is an excellent cocktail, named after Chick's trademark punch and in recognition of his bravery and heroism in saving 2 people from drowning in the Thames at Hammersmith in 1930. The Haymaker will launch on 18th May. It packs a bit of a wallop, like one of Chick's punches!! You will know you've had one!! The restaurant shop will also be stocking and selling copies of the book as well which will be dropped off this week to them. And finally, Manchester rapper Shotty Horroh, a big wrestling fan, has had his copy of the book and has been saying how he's looking forward to reading it.
(Andy Scott signs copies of his book)
Over the last few years many wrestling books have been published with the majority of them proving a great success with those of us that remember the glory years of wrestling.
The newest publication to become available is written by Nick Campbell, the man who has advised us on numerous occasions as to the latest inductees to be recognised for their Contribution to Irish Wrestling by The Wrestling Ireland. Published on the 11th April , Falls, Brawls and Town Halls: The History of Professional Wrestling in Northern Ireland has already become a must read for any wrestling enthusiast.
'Extensively researched, the history of professional wrestling in Northern Ireland is detailed for the first time and with exclusive interviews from over 25 pro wrestling personalities including Darkie Arnott (the “Irish-Italian” shipyard worker whose first match was in 1950), Eddie Hamill (who as “The Amazing Kung Fu” thrilled on ITV’s World of Sport), Dave Finlay Senior (an inspirational pro wrestling promoter and amateur wrestling advocate) and Fit Finlay (one of Europe’s greatest ever grapplers and a world-renowned Superstar) plus many more. Year by year from it’s deceptive beginnings, through World War II, through the Troubles and into the new millennium, this is the story of the men and women who as wrestlers, referees and MCs entertained – not only in Ireland but around the world – for decades, from hundreds in the Ulster Hall in Belfast to thousands in a field in Fermanagh to millions watching on television'.
The book is currently available in Kindle form or paperback and can be purchased from Amazon at the following link:-
We wish Nick and all those involved in the book the very best of luck with it, we are sure it will do well and that the book will sell well over the coming weeks.
Wayne Bridges was one of the great heavyweight wrestlers ever to step into the ring. The three time World Heavyweight Champion had a career that only few can equal and one that took him around the globe on several occasions.
In retirement from the ring, Wayne Bridges remained in the public eye when he took over as host of the British Wrestlers Reunion, a role he held for an astonishing 26 years right up until his death in March 2020.
In memory of Wayne Bridges a facebook page has been set up to remember the legend which, over the last three months, has already attracted over 300 members. Many unique and never before seen photographs of him in and out of the ring are regulaly posted and has made the page very popular with his fellow colleagues and fans. The page is overseen by his wife Sarah who incidentally has remained in her role as Reunion host.
For anyone who wishes to join Wayne Bridges facebook page the link is as follows and you will all be made most welcome:-
(Wayne Bridges in tag team action with his late son Dean Brisco)
Following on from the sad announcement that we made on the 13th April that legendary New Zealand wrestler John Da Silva had passed away we have now received the following message from his son Garth:-
'Hi Ken, I was sorting through some of my dads papers recently and saw some the wonderful correspondence you had sent him. Thank you so much for your lovely message. A great man in and out of the ring. I will add you to our family page where we are posting photo’s and memories etc if there’s anything you feel the family would cherish. Kindest regards Garth'
The official announcement of Johns passing has also been published and is as follows:-
'It is with great sadness that we formally confirm the passing and funeral details of our patriarch John Walter da Silva (QSM), of Great Barrier Island - aged 86 years.
John passed away peacefully on Thursday 8th of April 2021 at his residence in Whangaparapara, surrounded by love and family.
Dearly beloved husband of Willy, much loved father of Sharron, Kimberley and Garth, Elle, Paul and Robbie, Father in law to Jim and Malannie, and cherished grandfather of Karen, Mel, Aaron, Caleb and Riley.
Olympian, Hero and role model to generations of New Zealanders through his contribution to sport and the community.
A larger than life figure, brimming with mana, humility and compassion for all, he will be deeply missed and loved for eternity.
A funeral service will be held in Auckland at Morrison’s Funeral Home, 220 Universal Drive, Henderson on the 23rd of April commencing at 3pm.
Alternatively a live web cast will be made available for those that are unable to attend, and further details on this will be posted in the coming days.
For those wishing to send physical cards etc, please send them directly to Morrison’s Funeral home.
A heartfelt thank you for all the lovely messages, we sincerely appreciate all your aroha and support during these most difficult of days'.
Once again the British Wrestlers Reunion send our sincere condolences to all the family and may John now RIP.
(John in action against Tibor Szakacs in the main event at The Royal Albert Hall on the 22nd May 1963)
(Tibor Szakacs is presented with the Royal Albert Hall Trophy)
(Royal meets Wrestling Royalty as HRH meets Mick McManus and George Kidd)
(HRH meets Al Hayes and Jackie Pallo)
(HRH meets the hierarchy of Joint Promotions)
(HRH meets the Wrestlers prior to the nights contests)
(HRH The Duke of Edinburgh enjoying himself even though Johnny Kwango is about to land in his lap at the Albert Hall in 1963)
(The Rimer family have sent thanks for the messages of condolences following on from Franks passing)
In February the wrestling fraternity lost one of its true gentleman, a man who will always be remembered by everyone in the wrestling industry and who ensured that the business we all love was remembered. Frank Rimer was a true legend and he will never be forgotten for his contribution to the industry over a sixty year career.
We have now been asked by Frank Rimer Jnr and the rest of his family if we can post a statement from them in thanks of all the messages of condolence that they received following Franks death and we are more than happy to oblige. The statement is as follows:-
'I just wanted to take a moment to write to you all, to share my undying gratitude. For everyones messages regarding my fathers death in February, the condolences are still coming in, and coming strong, and its nice to see how many people my fathers existence had touched over the last 60 years.
I’d like thank everyone for the cards that were sent, both to myself and my mother, and all of the phone calls to check in on us to make sure that were doing okay. The amount of people that said “if there is anything i can do, just ask” was so wonderful, and gave our family the reassurance that we were being looked after, and knowing that we had your support truly helped us through such a difficult time.
Thanks to Sanjay Bagga of LDN Wrestling for creating such a great tribute video, and thanks to all who were involved in the making of it. We will always have something to look back on to make us smile, and to remind us of how loved he was.
Thanks also to Ken Sowden for helping us get the word out for Dads Funeral so we could share his service with everyone.
My last thank you goes out to every one who sent the amazing flowers for my fathers service on the 25th of March. There were so many they couldn’t fit them all in the hearse. Our director said they were spilling on to the passenger seats of the hearse, and even into the extra seats of our limousine that followed. Pictured here is only a portion of the flowers that were sent, and it was so lovely to have such a huge floral display at the funeral.
Dad would have been so touched to see how many people cared for him. So once again. To the British Wrestling Community thank you for everything, and i hope to join you all at the Reunion later in the year to raise a glass.
Stay safe and stay well. Frank Jnr and the Rimer Family'
The above are such lovely words from Frank Jnr and very fitting to his father who was respected by everyone. We of course look forward to welcoming Frank Jnr to the Reunion in August when we will pay our own tribute to his father and give him his final wrestling send off.
(Just a selection of the floral tributes sent to Franks funeral)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our huge congratulations to Basil 'Romany' Riley and his long term partner June Byrd who got married on Saturday 3rd April.
As we have reported in recent weeks Basil is now paralysed from the waist down although he remains in good spirits and was delighted when June accepted his marriage proposal some weeks ago after many happy years together.
Although Basil now requires constant medical attention he is adamant that he and June will continue to make happy memories together and we hope that they have many good years ahead of them.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to Marty Jones who is recovering in hospital after undergoing knee surgery.
The former World Mid Heavyweight Champion, British Light Heavyweight Champion and British Heavyweight Champion has had considerable trouble with his knees since retirement and has already had a number of surgical procedures to relieve him of the pain which he has been encountering now for some time.
Whilst the surgery has now been completed to the satisfaction of the surgeons it is too early to say whether this latest operation has been successful but we are told that whilst Marty remains in hospital he is upbeat and is as positive as ever and is looking forward to getting back home.
We hope that Marty is soon up and about and makes a full recovery so that he can re-commence his training seminars which over recent years have taken him all around the World.
(Marty pays a visit to the Reunion)
A couple of weeks ago we told you all about an article written by Mark Slattery which has appeared in Northern Life Magazine.
For anyone who was unable to get the magazine it it has now been uploaded and we are delighted to provide you with the link as follows for anyone who wishes to read it.
Well done Mark, good job.
The link is as follows:-
(Giant Haystacks in action against fellow legend Tony St Clair)
On Thursday 25th March one of the great stalwarts of British wrestling, Frank Rimer, was laid to rest.
Franks sudden and untimely death back in February shocked everyone not only in the wrestling world but all that knew him whether it was in a personal or a professional capacity. Such was Franks popularity that under normal circumstances 100s would have attended his funeral to pay their final respects to him, sadly, due to Covid restrictions, only 30 mourners were allowed but we know that many more watched the funeral on the live stream.
The funeral itself was very fitting to Frank and throughout every aspect of his life was covered. We, like others, maybe learnt some things that we did not know about him, anyone here will be reading this as a wrestler or a wrestling fan but as we all know Frank had many other interests and whilst wrestling was a huge part of his life it was only right that his other loves got mentioned. As Frank himself would say 'everyone and everything gets equal billing on my watch, no-one or anything is any better than anyone or anything else', quite true and a motto that many of us could take forward in our own lives.
The first tribute was paid by Franks dear friend Chris Buckwell who gave an in-depth account on how the two men met several years ago and how a combined love of professional wrestling led to a friendship that will always be fondly remembered. However, Frank could always talk on any subject and had an opinion about everything and the two men enjoyed many hours discussing the rights and wrongs of the World.
The Eulogy was to follow and was read by the legendary Mal Sanders who did this to absolute perfection. Mal, discussed in detail Franks introduction into wrestling by the late Johnny Yearsley, his lifelong friendship with Wayne Bridges as well as many others who Frank had a 50 year association with. This was not a time to be sad but for reflection and Mal made everyone smile with the story about Franks training day at Dale Martins gym. Frank being Frank turned up in white trunks and white boots when everyone else wore black trunks and black boots only to be told by Promoter Jack Dale 'We have one Adrian Street, we dont need another'. We are sure that this anecdote lightened the sombre mood. Mal went on to discuss Franks MC and refereeing days, his days as a Promoter and of course at the Reunion for which he will be most remembered. Mal also read out two tributes which he had been given, one from the great Johnny Saint who was unable to attend and one from Steve Grey who did attend. We do not feel that Mal could have done anymore than he did, his eulogy was exemplary and it was fitting that this was read by not only a wrestler but one of Franks dearest friends.
The final tribute was paid by Frank Jnr, this is probably the hardest thing he has ever had to do in his life but he did an absolutely excellent job and, as many have said over recent weeks regarding Frank himself being a first class speaker', Frankie did not let his dad down and we know that Frank would have been looking down at his son with a broad smile on his face being as proud as any dad can be of their son, something Frank had always been as anyone would testify that he would constantly tell everyone 'thats my boy and there is nobody better'. Frank Jnr gave a very heartwarming speech about his dad and his life growing up with him and his mother Mary and we know he is going to be lost without him.
Despite restrictions we were happy to say that the wrestling world was well represented at the funeral. Alongside Mal Sanders was Steve Grey, Johnny Kidd, Barry Cooper, Keith Hayward, Vince Randall, Bobby Stafford, Mel Stuart and Sanjay Bagga.
For anyone who was unable to see the live stream it will remain available for the next three weeks with the login details the same as previously posted.
Franks passing will leave a huge hole in many of our lives but his legacy will live on through his various loves and interests of which he had many as well as his family and friends who will always remember the man, the true legend that was Frank Rimer. RIP.
(British Wrestling pays tribute to Frank Rimer)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to remember Orig Williams who, on Saturday 20th March, would have been celebrating his 90th birthday.
Orig had a long and varied career in the wrestling industry and by the mid 1960s had become one of the top-billing wrestlers on the independent wrestling circuit in the UK. Throughout his career Orig became a truly international star and travelled to India, Asia, the Middle East, the Far East, United States of America and to numerous European countries.
Orig was the 'baddie' during the majority of his career although he was a popular member of the wrestling community and went on to promote several established stars including Wayne Bridges, Tony St Clair, John Quinn, Adrian Street and many others.
Orig was an avid promoter of wrestling bouts and appropriated the name 'British Wrestling Federation', under which his shows were sometimes held as well as holding a number of 'tribute' shows during his promoting years.
On the 12th November 2009 Orig passed away after suffering a heart attack. He is much missed and well remembered by his many colleagues and fans alike and we celebrate his life on what would have been his 90th birthday.
In 2020 World Wrestling Entertainment announced that the UKs own British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith was to be inducted into their prestigious Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, due to the Covid pandemic the ceremony had to be postponed but the WWE have now released the following press statement on their website:-
'History will be made once again during WrestleMania Week, as the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony returns!
The 2021 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will stream Tuesday, April 6 exclusively on WWE Network. For the first time ever, the ceremony will feature two classes of inductees taking their place in sports-entertainment history.
The Class of 2020, comprised of Batista, The nWo, The Bella Twins, JBL, British Bulldog and Jushin “Thunder” Liger, will be joined by a new class of Inductees for 2021.
Stay tuned to WWE programming and all of WWE’s digital platforms as WrestleMania Week approaches for more information on the 2021 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.'
We send our congratulations to Davey Boy Smiths family, some of who will be attending the induction ceremony, for the accolade which is well deserved for a wrestler who became internationally known.
(Bill seen here with Sarah who was without doubt the love of his life)
Wrestling in one way or another has been around for centuries with many different styles known and practiced around the World.
Catch wrestling is one such style that became extremely popular and our good friend Ruslan Pashayevs book on this subject continues to bring a great insight into those involved in the sport in its early days.
'The Birth and Evolution of Catch-as-Catch-Can Pro-Wrestling in East Lancashire, England. "The Story of Catch" covers the most forgotten stages of Lancashire's Catch Wrestling history, including it's origin, it's fast growth and evolution during first fifty years of Catch, introduction of professionalism and it's Golden Era, as well as introduction and popularization of it in the United States. This story has many heroes who affected Catch in its early stages and remained in history as true symbols of Lancashire Wrestling. But the whole story is dedicated to the memory of Adam Ridings of Bury, Lancs (1819-1894), who was also known under the nickname of “Dockum of Bury” a pioneer of Catch Wrestling, and the most prominent and popular wrestler of Lancashire in the 1840’s-1850’s. "The Story of Catch" is a must.'
The book is available to purchase via Amazon for £19.99 paperback or £6.56 Kindle and the link for this is as follows:-
This is a great read for anybody who has an interest in the history of wrestling and would be a good addition to anyones reading library.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send the warmest of birthday wishes to Basil 'Romany' Riley who celebrated his 79th birthday on the 4th March.
Basil was a regular names on bills across the UK throughout the 1970s and 80s and was a skilled in ring technician who could go in with the best in the business and he often did. Basil was more than capable of bending the rules on occasions but despite this he had a loyal following of fans and was respected by all of his colleagues. Like many wrestlers during that period Basil was also involved in the licensing trade and was landlord of The Thanet Arms in Kent for a number of years.
As reported here a few weeks ago, Basil has not been in the best of health and recently had another stay in hospital. However, despite his ongoing health problems he remains very cheerful and upbeat and is looking forward to the future in a positive manner.
We hope that Basil had a great birthday and despite lockdown restrictions enjoyed all of the celebrations that came his way. We hope that he has many more to come.
(Basil Riley and brother Chris)
In a week of sad news we have again received word from our friends at the Cauliflower Alley Club that legendary USA Promoter Jim Crockett Jnr passed away on Wednesday 3rd March aged 76 years after suffering from liver and kidney failure.
Jim Crockett took over as the promoter for the southern-based wrestling promotion Jim Crockett Promotions from his father in 1973, and over the next 15 years it grew into a national promotion that rivaled Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. He served three terms as president of the National Wrestling Alliance and sold the company to Ted Turner in 1988, who renamed it World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Jim Crockett attempted a return to wrestling with a wrestling Internet broadcast network in 1994 called the World Wrestling Network. It was short-lived, and he left the sport for good in 1995. Crockett also brought the NWA back to the Dallas Sportatorium for an equally brief tenure during this time.
Jim Crockett Jnr will go down as one of the great promoters in history, he was one of the men responsible for changing the face of professional wrestling during the 1970s and 80s and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
We send our condolences to Jims family and friends at this very sad time and may he now RIP.
(Jim Crockett Jnr made stars out of wrestlers such as Ric Flair)
We are saddened to receive word from our colleagues at the Cauliflower Alley Club that one of the great American female wrestlers Ann Casey has passed away aged 82.
Anns career spanned from the 1950s until the 1970s and throughout that time she was considered as one of the leading ladies in professional wrestling. Having been trained by the Fabulous Moolah, Ann had a successful career throughout the USA and was famously known for wrestling barefoot after breaking both her ankles after an opponent tied her laces together and heaved her under the bottom rope.
In 1974 Ann defeated her mentor and trainer Moolah for the US Title, a very rare title change as Moolah had held the title virtually undefeated for nearly twenty years.
In retirement Ann had a number of varied jobs but never lost her interest in wrestling. With Social Media becoming more popular around the World Ann was more than happy to interact with her fans and indeed we corresponded with her ourselves on numerous occasions over the years, she was very knowledgable about the wrestling industry and, like many in the business, had some great stories to tell.
Sadly Ann suffered a heart attack in 2005 from which she never fully recovered and was hospitalised recently following a fall.
Ann Casey passed away on Monday 1st March and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her, a true legend of wrestling and may she now RIP.
As sales of the Chick Knight story continues to rise with copies being despatched around the World, the Petition which we have previously reported on to get Chick recognised for his heroic action on the Hammersmith Bridge is still ongoing and Andy has today sent us the following update:-
'Just to let you know I am now in active dialogue with the new Mayor of Hammersmith with regards to getting recognition of my great uncle Chick 'Cocky' Knight's double lifesaving feat in the Thames at Hammersmith in 1930.
If you haven't already signed the Petition please do so if you can, and ask others as well. Every signature counts! A son of Hammersmith and forgotten hero who deserves long-overdue recognition'.
The link to sign the Petition if you so wish is as follows:-
(He is back...Scott Conway returns to wrestling)
There are those people involved in wrestling who can claim to have done it all and Scott Conway is one who fits into this class.
Throughout the mid 1980s to the early 2000s Scott was a second, referee, wrestler and promoter and became one of the most well known names in British wrestling until in 2003 he ended it all and moved to Thailand where he resided for in excess of 16 years, now Scott has returned and he intends to regain his position as one of the top wrestling promoters in the UK.
Prior to leaving the UK for Thailand Scott had taken his TWA brand to great heights and had some of the top wrestlers in not only Britain but from around the World regularly appearing for him at venues up and down the country. Although Scott returned to the UK in late 2019 his comeback as a wrestling promoter has had to be delayed as, like the majority of others, wrestling shows were cancelled for the majority of 2020 due to the Coronavirus but with Government restrictions being lifted for later in the year Scott is ready and raring to go and he is kicking it all off with a number of shows to determine the champions of Britain. Scott has released the following statement and it is as follows:-
'A big part of the first Wrestling Alliance shows back will be Championship nights when the REAL British Champions will be crowned. The All Nations Heavyweight Title, British Lightweight Title plus all other British Championships where the best in the UK and not the youngest or cheapest will be selected to enter the Championship matches.The Best of British.'
Details of venues and dates for Scotts shows will be released in due course but in the meantime we wish him and TWA all the very best in their comeback, at a time when the wrestling industry needs all the support it can get we are sure that Scott will give it his all and if previous experiences are anything to go by will soon be up there as one of the elite promoters once again.
We have today been advised by Neil Evans of the Essex Wrestlers Reunion that his good friend and long time in ring opponent Bob Collins is currently recovering in hospital after surgery. Neil states as follows:-
'Our good friend Bob Collins(Malcolm Daintry) is currently recovering from major life saving surgery last Tuesday in Basildon Hospital, I’m sure you all along with me will wish him a safe and steady recovery. Bob will be 80 in September, and possibly I had more bouts with him than anyone else. When his son called me last Tuesday and told me, I was totally devastated, but he’s shown he’s a fighter, and although there maybe long term affects, he is doing well'
We send our best wishes to Bob and hope that he makes a speedy recovery and returns home as soon as possible.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive word that long time World Association of Wrestling referee Tony Bishop has passed away after a long illness.
Ricky Knight, founder and owner of World Association of Wrestling has stated that he is devastated that his friend of 50 years and WAW ref Tony Bishop has lost his fight with cancer love you pal you will be so missed.
Tony will be added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time. May Tony now RIP.
It has now been a few days since the tragic news broke that not only my colleague but my friend Frank Rimer had passed away, to say that I was shocked would be an understatement but seeing all the wonderful and deserved tributes being paid to him is testament to fact that he was admired by everyone in and out of the wrestling business who had the privilege to know him in whatever capacity.
I first met Frank many years ago when I visited my first ever Reunion in Kent and although I did not know who he was, all of the legends of wrestling who were in attendance showed him so much respect I soon realised that he must be someone who was of great importance within the Reunion, and how right I was. When Frank took to that stage he had everyone in the palm of his hand, he could make everyone no matter who or what you were in the wrestling business sound a million dollars, thats a great talent and Frank had by the bucketload. I did speak with Frank on this occasion and although I was there as a fan he treated me like someone he had known all his life and gave me the warmest welcome I could have wished for.
I corresponded with Frank for a number of years and then came the call out of the blue asking if I would be interested (with Alan Hinder) in taking over the Reunion website. It was a great honour and something that was taken up without hesitation. Frank was a huge help in the early days but never interfered and was always respectful of things that were posted to the site and although he was not directly involved in the day to day running of the website any longer he would still contribute occasionally when the need arose.
As the years went on Frank was still organising the Reunion but he did state privately that he would like to reduce his role and gave me the opportunity to work alongside him in the organising of the event and became my mentor. We did this for 5 years and worked very well together, Frank often commented that we had the same style and approach to working and writing articles and programmes etc so much so that he stated that when the transition finally came nobody would know that he was no longer involved, and, as was Franks way, he was right.
In 2016 Frank organised his final Reunion and stood down after a remarkable 20 years in the role. I was very honoured to replace Frank as organiser of the Reunion although I know that even if I am in the role for 20 years like he was I will never be able to match up to his record. Despite retiring Frank however stayed involved in a consultancy role although, like he did with the website, he would never interfere in decision making and would often start a conversation 'if its alright with you......', it always was, who was going to say no to Frank, it was virtually impossible and over the last 5 years he was a great support to me.
I last spoke to Frank two days before his passing, he was in fine form and was pitting ideas for the 30th Reunion celebrations. Frank was always a great storyteller, you could never have a quick conversation with him and many, for me at least, would be over an hour, most from the shed at his beloved allotment. I learnt so much about the wrestling business and those involved in it from Frank and he has fought my corner on numerous occasions when others have been less flattering. There were a handful of times, and thats all there ever were, when we didnt see eye to eye, thats the nature of the beast, but it never affected our friendship and I always had the most respect for him and held him in the highest esteem. His support was like none I have ever received in any other part of my life (apart from my family) and even at the 2020 Reunion he was on that stage selling me and Sarah Bridges with no mention of himself....that was Frank selfless to the end.
Now my friend has gone, no more hour long conversations, no more funny stories, no more history lessons and no more support. I will miss him and my heartfelt condolences go to his wife Mary who he absolutely adored and his son Frank Jnr, no dad could be more proud of their son than Frank was of his and he would regularly tell me of Frank Jnrs accomplishments.
Frank was a genuine one off, he was a legend in wrestling and was respected and admired by everyone and his passing will leave a big hole in many peoples lives. I was honoured to know him and to be part of his life and to have him as part of mine. RIP Frank, you will always have a place in our hearts.
(Franks last attendance at the 2020 Reunion with Sanjay Bagga, Sarah Bridges and Ken Sowden)
The Wrestlers Reunion Scotland would like to pay tribute to fellow Grappler, MC and Promoter, Frank Rimer, who most definitely deserves to be lauded and applauded for all he achieved during his time in our Business.
Few have worked harder or put more effort into the list of his talents mentioned in the many tributes that have already been made and that does not take into account what Frank achieved and the selfless work and effort he employed in helping the setting up, and the continued successful running of the British Wrestlers Reunion in Kent.
During his tenure Frank made the Reunion not only the second longest running event of its kind in the World but far more importantly putting it on the map and reserving its place in UK grappling history as the best, the biggest and by-far the most successful Wrestlers Reunion in Britain!!!
All any of us mere humans can ask is to be remembered by our peers, for what we achieved during our short time on this good earth. Given what Frank Rimer did with his life, he will undoubtedly be remembered for a long, long, long time.
The Full Committee at Wrestlers Re-Union Scotland supported by our Membership send our sincere and heart felt condolences to both Franks wife Mary, his loving son Frankie and also to his many, many friends and colleagues in the Wrestling World.
On Sunday 14th February the wrestling world were shocked and saddened as the news was reported that one of the most recognizable names in wrestling and a stalwart of the British Wrestlers Reunion, Frank Rimer, had passed away suddenly albeit peacefully in his sleep.
Since reporting the news the Reunion have been inundated with 100s of tributes to Frank both by email and social media and a selection of these are as follows:-
This is the saddest news. I only chatted with him this week. Deepest sympathy to all the family.
Oh no, this is terrible news. I met Frank briefly at the Reunions I attended and had some conversations with him on here as well. I learned a lot from this lovely man. My sincere condolences to Frank's friends and family at this very difficult time
oh im so shocked to hear the sad news about frank please pass on my condolences to his family xx
Very sad news. I am shocked beyond belief. Rest in Peace Frank.
That is very sad news indeed.My condolences to all concerned.
I’m stunned. A good man gone too soon.
Indeed, terrible news, so very very sad.
Never met Frank, but we were friends on here and communicated several times.
A lovely and very helpful man.
So very sad.
Rest in Perfect Peace, Dear Frank
Cannot believe he has gone such a wonderful man would help everyone out I'm so glad to call him my friend everyone will miss you frank sending my love to his family
That is such a shock sincere condolences to his family
So shocked and so saddened. Condolences to all his family and friends. RIP Frank, you will never be forgotten
Such sad news.
Frank was one of the humblest, kindest, most modest of gentlemen in the business.
Eloquently promoting the achievements of others and always a kind word.
I am genuinely sad and shocked by this news.
At least he passed on peacefully in his sleep, without pain and knowing he was loved by this family and everyone in the wrestling world.
Rest in peace Frank. It was a privilege to have known you.
Beautiful and very apt words Lee
Very sad news and such a shock. Thoughts with all Frank's family
So sad, never met but we conversed in texts etc, always nice in comments about my dad, he was a lovely fella,RIP
So so sad to hear this news. And what a shock. Sending his family mine and Donna’s condolences RIP Frank
I am so sad to hear this bad news Frank was a true gentleman and a professional in the ring my condolences to his family
Such sad news never met him.
God bless you Frank x x x my condolences to the family x x
That is a shock.Loved to have a chat with him at the Reunions.He did a lot for the game.I went to his show he did at Stanley.We used to converse on Facebook and I used to send him bits and pieces I thought he would be interested.A lovely man.My heart felt condolences to his family.RIP Frank
Sad news indeed. Condolences to his family at this time.
Totally earth shattering news, I'm so, so sorry to hear of the passing of such a servant to UK Wrestling. Frank was a ever present hard working stalwart of what went before, and he will be remembered with great fondness. RIP Good Friend from me personally and also from all the Committee and Members at WRESTLERS RE-UNION SCOTLAND. Andra x
Sad news rip Frank
Very sad news indeed. R.I.P Frank
This is so sad Frank was a lovely man we had many chats and he made. Me feel really welcome the first time i attended the southern wrestling reunions.
My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
This is a shock and sad to hear r.I.p frank
So sorry to hear about this. Thoughts with his family and friends RIP
Sorry to hear of the sad newsFrank rest in peace my dear friend
Total shock, he was a genuine lovely guy, had the pleasure of meeting him at the last Southern reunion. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
How very sad.R.I.P Frank.
That was sad to hear. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Frank
I can’t believe what I have just read, feeling heartbroken can’t find words to express my feelings. heartfelt sympathies to Franks family RIP
Condolences to the family RIP
Can’t believe what I read this morning he will certainly be missed
What a shock met him several times a wealth of knowledge sad day
I am in shock and can find no words. R.I.P Frank. I will miss our chats on the phone.
A very sad day ken for all who knew frank sending condolences to the family
RIP Frank. Condolences to his family.
Such sad news. My condolences to his family x
Lovely man, RIP, Frank, thoughts are with his family
So sad R I P Frank
My sincere condolences to Frank's family and may his gentle soul Rest in Peace. He was a true gentleman and a true professional in everything he did. From Tony Kelly .
Shocked at this news
Very sad my thoughts are with his family and friends R.I.P Frank x
Sorry for your loss
Sorry to hear this, he was a nice, genuine man
This is extremely sad and shocking news. Frank invited me to the Dartford reunions in the early 2000s when he became aware of my attempt to start a British wrestling website. He and Joe D'Orazio were very generous with their time in taking me round, introducing me to many of the wrestlers. It's because of their kindness that I was able to experience such a warm welcome from the wrestling community, despite me not being from a wrestling background myself. Frank's hard work, not only on every second Sunday of August at The Bridges, but also throughout the year have been fundamental in making the reunion the great success it is today. My sincere condolences to Mary and the family on the loss of such a wonderful man.
R. I. P frank rimer
So sad. My thoughts are with his family. Bless you Frank for all your help and kindness.x
True gent. So sad
Such sad news frank was loved and will be sadly missed sending condolences to the family
Bless you Frank, my deepest condolences to your family and friends, thank you for the help you gave my family after uncle Bill passed x
Sad news! Rest in peace
Condolences to his family and friends.
Absolute gentleman, sincere condolences and God bless Frank x
Sorry to hear the very bad news very good friend of my bill
Frank was a diamond. Always had time to talk us younger wrestlers, be it at shows or the reunion. He done his best to include everybody.
Very sad news, RIP Frank
Very sad news indeed. RIP
Very sad, what a peaceful way to go, hope that brings his family some comfort at this time
Such sad news. Condolences to his family xx
The loss of a dear dear friend... i am deeply saddened... RIP Frank sleep soundly my friend.
OMG!!! I'm in so much shock & emotional right now reading this
True legend of the wrestling scene, R.I.P Frank
So sad to hear this what wonderful man always there for a chat about our allotments
Rip frank will always remember the good times
R.I.P Frank you have been such a legend to the British wrestling scene and a mentor to the new stars coming through the business today. You are such a gentleman inside and outside of the ring my hearts and prayers go out to the family at this sad time.
Oh dear sad news, he always looked so healthy
No way ill miss him at the reunions rip frank
OMG what a shock
RIP frank. And condolences to his family
Oh no only met Frank the once but he was a such a nice guy and very complimentary. Rest in Peace Frank, thoughts are with his family
Sorry to hear that
Omg Rest in Peace Frank
Rest In Peace Frank.
Very sad news
My condolences and im almost sure i met him when i was their but then again i met a lot of new fun people may he R.I.P. another brother lost but always remembered
Sad news rest in peace Frank
Was always a gent when I spoke to him online
Sad news indeed. RIP Frank!
So sad R I P Frank
Totally shocked, what devastating news, R.I.P. Frank..
A fantastic man and a great ambassador to the busines
RIP Frank and thank you for all you have done
(Franks final appearance at the 2020 Reunion)
Frank Rimer had been part of the wrestling business for over 50 years. His numerous activities and achievements within the world of wrestling include former Southern Area Lightweight Amateur Champion, professional wrestler, second, referee, Master of Ceremonies, promoter, co-founder of Dropkixx Wrestling Academy, organiser of the British Wrestlers Reunion, writer, webmaster and columnist.
Outside the ring, his life has been equally varied, ranging from being Mr South-east England bodybuilding champion and life member of NABBA, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme Physical Training instructor, karate black belt 1st Dan, and high-board diver, to model, rock'n'roll promoter, and commentator for television Channels 4 & 5 on the British Strongman Championships.
When he was just 9 years old, Frank's parents were involved in an horrific car crash in which his father was killed and his mother crippled. This inevitably resulted in very hard times for the family financially. At 11 years of age, Frank was taken swimming to a local lido, where some mindless louts threw him in the deep end, not realising that he couldn’t swim. Two huge athletes were quickly on the scene to pull him out, with a third acting as pool attendant. One was European diving champion Perry Blake; the second was the great Johnny Yearsley and the third was TV wrestling legend Bobby Barnes. John Yearsley took Frank home and offered to assist his mother in raising him, by teaching him "the manly side of life". She was initially very sceptical, and insisted on inspecting John's home, only to relax somewhat when she met his boys, Mark and Carl
Frank trained in John's home gym with other aspiring athletes, including his brother Malcolm Yearsley, Charlie Fisher's son Brian Sparks, Leon Fortuna, Dave Phillips, physique champions such as Dave Marshall and amateur wrestling new boy Wayne Bridges, with whom he has remained friends ever since. Sometimes they would visit the Billy Stevens gym in Stratford, where Frank met and befriended Dave Prowse MBE who was then Britain's Strongest Man. Film star Sean Connery also trained there and went on to be placed in the Mr Universe contest, having also been guided by John.
Frank attended diving and swimming lessons with Perry Blake, eventually joining his aqua show as a stunt diver opposite another young hopeful, Brian Phelps, who went on to win Olympic gold. Another swimmer was Anita Lonsborough who also won an Olympic medal.
Just before his 12th birthday, John enrolled Frank in the Viking Amateur Wrestling Club where Wayne Bridges trained, and he began to study the catch-as-catch-can style of grappling. Wayne was also an ardent swimmer and eventually won an Olympic medal in Australia in 1962.
Frank began to get bigger, and by 1959 had transferred to the Sparta Club in Shoreditch when he won the South Eastern Lightweight Amateur Wrestling Championships at Pentonville. Two years later he took the Mr Junior South East England physique title at the Scala Theatre in London.
In 1960, Frank won a place at Dale Martins gym in Brixton, where he enrolled with another athlete called Rajendra Singh. It was while he was there, being trained by former World Shoot champion Mike Demitre, and watched by Jack Dale, that a trainee wrestler decided to "scurf" Frank in order to impress "The Boss". "Scurfing" means hurting your opponent in a shoot match. Frank felt really humiliated, as he didn’t know the art of submission wrestling at that time. A well-built athlete training in the corner had seen this happen, and asked if he could replace Frank in the ring. Mike agreed and Frank witnessed the total annihilation of the other "wannabe". That athlete was Ray Fury, who Frank later learned was Demitre’s protégé, and regarded as one of the top ten submission wrestlers in the world. He and Frank have remained friends to this day.
Frank's first Pro bout was for an opposition promoter called Mickey Kylie in a fairground booth in Plymouth, where Johnny Kincaid also started. Then followed sporadic work for Gorden Corbett, Baverstock Cooter, Orig Williams and other lesser-known promoters. By 1964 Frank had his first bout for Dale Martins and served as a part time wrestler for several years, against many top names of the day.
1969 saw Ray Fury and Frank form Independent Joint Promotions, which they ran for some years, utilising many former TV names such as Danny Lynch, Basil Riley, Wildman of Borneo, Harry Kendall, etc., who had left Dales. At this time Ray Fury,TonyScarlo and Frank accepted many modelling and bit-part acting roles for magazines, TV, movies etc., and they also promoted many Rock'n'Roll revival and Country & Western shows featuring names like Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and Shakin'Stevens.
Mid seventies, and Frank took up karate and studied Wado-Ru (Way of peace) under Tatsuo Suzuki, winning a black belt 1st Dan in 1978. He taught physical training and bodybuilding at the Association of Boys Clubs, which was sponsored by singer Frankie Vaughan during the 80’s, and also qualified as a Fitness Instructor for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme in 1985.
In 1995, Frank attended his first British Wrestlers' Reunion in Greenwich, and went on to organise the Reunion with Wayne Bridges and Joe D’Orazio from 1997 retiring from the role in 2016. Attendances have increased greatly each year, making it the largest of its type in the world, other than the American Cauliflower Alley Club. Frank has helped build the reunion website, and written 10 newsletters which would go out worldwide. In 2002 he received an award from the founder in recognition of his work and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019. Despite retiring as organiser Frank continued in a consultancy role right up until his death. In 2020 Frank returned as a one off to MC a very special Reunion which was held in tribute to host and his great friend Wayne Bridges who had passed away earlier in the year.
In 1998 Frank co-founded the Dropkixx Wrestling Academy with Tony Scarlo whom he had known and wrestled for over 45 years teaching amateur, submission and Pro styles of grappling, especially "Word of Sport" traditional British style. They have helped 85% of current wrestlers in U.K. to start and also helped many bullied and medically disabled children. Dropkixx made several TV documentaries during this time and became involved in the ‘Britain's Hardest’ endurance shows, featuring Leroy Kincaid, Hade Vansen , Darren Burridge and Ian ‘the machine’ Freeman. Frank retired from active 'bumping' in 2005, following a spinal and neck injury, and was honoured to receive another award from the wrestlers for his achievements in this venture. Frank says his proudest moments were seeing a paralysed boy roll into the ring and grab legendary Doug Williams -"My deepest respect and love to Doug who proved what a great star he really is by giving his time to that project", says Frank - seeing several bullied kids make their wrestling debut on the circuit, and also watching his son Frankie in his inaugural bout with Jonny Storm against Darren Burridge and another American ECW wrestler, and meeting his boyhood hero, actor, movie and physique star "Mighty Joe" Robinson, who asked for Frank's autograph
Frank's Master of Ceremonies work has been ongoing since 1968 and acted as ring announcer up until 2018 for Dropkixx and LDN wrestling shows as well as guest spots on the annual Legends shows, where he has presented "Lifetime Achievement" awards to Mick McManus, Joe D’Orazio, Mel Stuart and more.
Frank passed away suddenly although peacefully in his sleep on Friday 12th February 2021 aged 76 years and died of natural causes with no pain.
Frank leaves behind his loving wife Mary and his son Frank Jnr and daughter in law Jess.
The wrestling world has lost a good and faithful servant and UK wrestling owes Frank a debt that can never be fully repaid. Sleep in comfort and RIP our dear friend.
(Frank accepts his Hall of Fame Award at the 2019 Reunion)
(Rita with husband Giant Haystacks)
On the 11th February 2006 the wrestling world lost one of the most "Iconic Figures" of The Golden Era of UK Grappling; Mr Jackie TV Pallo. Old Jack as he was lovingly referred to by those who knew and adored him both as a colleague, and probably more so as a character was a truly wonderful ring worker.
Jackie passed away in Ramsgate leaving behind his adorable wife Trixie and his son JJ, sadly both have gone now as well.
Always a controversial character Jackies autobiography of his Wrestling Days caused quite a stir when it first published and yet all these years later it is still being referred to which would delight Jackie knowing he was still in the spotlight.
Most of the huge crowds who tuned in to the Saturday Afternoon Wrestling Slot during the 1960's and the 1970's, did so to see Jackie and hopefully witness that cheeky smile being wiped from his face by a winning opponent. Sadly for them it seldom happened, and Jack just continued around the ring talking to the audience whilst wobbling his head from side to side and occasionally sneering at someone in the front row of the audience. He was a one off who can never be replaced.
Of course Jackie will best be remembered for his feud with Mick McManus and their Cup Final bout drew record television audiences.
Jackie remained in the wrestling business long after he hung up the boots as a promoter and was still in high demand for public appearances. In 2013 he received the honour of being inducted into the Reunion Hall of Fame,
Jackie Pallo will never be forgotten, a true icon and a legend of wrestling and we remember him on the 15th anniversary of his death, may he continue to Rest in Peace.
(Jackie waits for his next opponent)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send best wishes to Bobby Ryan who celebrated his 70th birthday on Wednesday 10th February.
Bobby, the son of Stan Rylands, was a top class lightweight throughout the 1970s in which he was both British and European champion contesting the belt on numerous occasions with Jim Breaks.
Bobby gained his fair share of television exposure which made him very popular with the fans and was often in demand around the UK.
Bobby retired from the ring in 1982 but remains a regular attendee at the Wrestlers Reunions.
We hope that Bobby enjoys his birthday with many more to come.
(Bobby and Jim Breaks at the Reunion)
(Bazil and Steve Veidor at the 2019 Reunion)
The British Wrestlers Reunion remember Johnny Yearsley who passed away 41 years ago on the 2nd February 1980.
John turned Professional in 1953, having learned the basics at the ROFSA gym in Woolwich and won several titles during his rampage across Europe including Southern area Heavyweight Champion, Kent all in Champion, and the Austrian heavyweight Championship in 1970.
Johnnys trips took him to Africa, Middle East, Europe and many other Scandinavian Countries throughout his illustrious career.
Johnny Yearsley will be remembered as not only one of the strongest men in the world, but as a master villain in his chosen career, His charisma, elegance, quirky humour and boyish charm was second to none and he is still sadly missed to this day by all who knew and loved him.
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to Tony Costas who also celebrated his 80th birthday on Tuesday 2nd February.
Tony initially started off in the amateur ranks in Cyprus and continued with this when he came to the UK. In 1962 Tony turned professional working for Dale Martin Promotions taking on some of the greats of the day. Tony would also tour Europe and also returned to his native Cyprus where he won their Welterweight Title.
Tony was a popular wrestler with both his colleagues and fans and is a frequent visitor to the Kent Reunion.
We hope that Tony enjoys his 80th birthday with many more to come.
(Tony on a visit to The Bridges)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like tio send our very best wishes to Mel Stuart who on Tuesday 2nd February celebrated his 80th birthday.
Mel started his career wrestling for the independent promoters in the South of England but was soon a regular for Dale Martin Promotions throughout the 1970s and 80s and opposed some of the all time greats whether it be in solo or tag team contents. More times than not Mel heard a chorus of boos from the fans as he made his way to and from the ring but enjoyed every minute of it.
Mel is also a great supporter of the Reunion and was always the first to volunteer when back in the day Legends Shows were held or an old style World of Sport bout was required. A regular at the Wrestler only dinners held at The Bridges, Mel, despite the character he portrayed in the ring, is one of the nicest men in the wrestling business.
We hope that Mel enjoys his 80th birthday and all the celebrations that go with it and we hope that he has many more to come.
(Mel Stuart and Roy St Clair at the Reunion)
Whilst the majority of us remain in lockdown many are reliving the glory days of ITV wrestling by watching You Tube videos of their favourite stars. With more and more videos being uploaded there is certainly no lack of bouts for us all to enjoy and reminisce about those great Saturday afternoons when everything stopped for the wrestling.
Sadly, not all of the bouts broadcast on ITV are available on You Tube but we have been asked to let you all know about a website which has been running for several years but some of you may not be aware of.
The website has a full and comprehensive listing of every bout broadcast on ITV from the very first in 1955 until it left the small screen in 1988. Many also show the result and the number of falls, disqualification etc etc. Alongside this there are also some links to various articles which refer to the golden age and also wrestling sites like our friends at Wrestling Heritage.
To view this site please go to: www.itvwrestling.co.uk
We are sure you will enjoy viewing the above site which we are certain will bring back many memories and we hope that as these tough times continue you all remain healthy and stay safe.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to report that Mike Dunleavy passed away on the 17th January aged 88 years of age.
Mike competed to a high level in the 1960s alongside his brother Seamus who he formed a tag team with as well as opposing some of the great names in the business in solo action.
Mikes funeral was held on Tuesday 19th January at his home church in Charlestown.
Mike is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Siobhan, son Michael, daughter-in-law Marie, sisters Kathleen, Angela and Monica, brothers Louis and Séamus.
Mike has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time.
(Mike and Seamus Dunleavy and referee Lawson Peak)
A week after the release of London's Lovable Villain....the Chick Knight Story we are delighted to advise that the book has received rave reviews and already just short of 70 copies have been sold not only in this country but in the USA and in Europe.
Initially Andy had ordered 100 copies but such has been the interest in the book thanks to all the publicity that it has received that further copies have now been requested and will soon be winging their way to him.
Having received our copy we can highly recommend this book. It is not only very well written but gives a great insight into what Chick was like in and out of the wrestling ring. The details have been very well researched by Andy and there is a comprehensive section in which the majority of Chicks results are shown which, for any wrestling fan, will certainly bring back memories of wrestlers whose names may not be as familiar as they once were. There are also some great stories regarding Chicks involvement with the likes of Bert Assirati, the Pye Family, Farmers Boy, Joe Cornelius and many others.
The book can be purchased from ebay or by contacting Andy directly at email@example.com.
(Wayne and Sarah Bridges in happier times)
The British Wrestlers Reunion would like to send our very best wishes to Spencer Churchill who is recovering at home after a nasty fall. Bob Sweeney has written and advised as follows:-
'Spencer Churchill who is 91 fell down the stairs and broke both shoulders necessitating in hospitalisation. Thankfully he is recovering now and back home'
We hope that Spencer makes a full recovery and is soon back to full health and we are sure all of you here will send best wishes to him
(Steve with the GLOW Ladies of Wrestling)
(Steve at the 2019 Essex Reunion)
Stu Allen aka the Dominator has finally put pen to paper so to speak (alongside Neil Cameron) and written his autobiography 'Simply the Beast'
The book which has now been published tells the hard-hitting story of Stu Allen aka The Dominator, one of British wrestling’s most loved, and iconic, characters of the last 20 years.
If the book is anything as good as his wrestling career and his podcasts (and we are sure it is) we are sure that it will be an absolute knockout and a must read for all wrestling fans.
The British Wrestlers Reunion wish Stu and all those involved in the book all the very best with it and if you would like a signed copy it can be obtained from the following link:-
(Stu received an award at the 2019 Reunion)
Legendary wrestler and performer extraordinaire Neil Sands is releasing his first novel entitled 'Time for Justice' on Thursday 8th October.
The novel will be available via Amazon in Kindle version or from www.neilsandsbooks.com
Please show your support for Neil as this certainly looks like a good read.
Over the last few months we have brought you regular updates on a book being written about 'Londons Lovable Villain' Chick 'Cocky' Knight. The book is now well underway and will be published shortly.
To coincide with the release of the book Chick was to be inducted into the British Wrestlers Reunion Hall of Fame this year. However, due to the changes made to this years Reunion it meant that all award presentations had to be postponed until 2021.
We were approached by Chicks great nephew and the author of the book, Andy Scott, who advised us that Chicks Hall of Fame induction was to be mentioned in the book and could we supply him with something he could use to publicise this. In the circumstances, and to assist Andy, we made a special exception this year and have now inducted Chick into the Hall of Fame. An official presentation will be made to Andy at the 2021 Reunion.
Chicks induction into the Hall of Fame is well deserved and you can see this by clicking the following link:-
We were delighted that Andy and his partner Linda paid us a visit at the 2020 Reunion and we look forward to welcoming them both back in 2021 to receive Chicks award.
(Reunion organiser Ken Sowden and Andy Scott at the 2020 Reunion)
At this years Reunion Johnny Saint was invited to pay tribute to the legendary Wayne Bridges which he accepted without question. Johnny is of course one of the great legends of wrestling and had known Wayne since the 1960s and we were delighted that he was able to attend, especially this year, to pay tribute to his long time friend.
Johnny also made reference to the future of the Reunion urging everyone to continue to attend stating ' We want to see you every year, lets keep it going in memory of Bill'
Johnnys quote is one that we hope people will listen to and act upon. During the last few years the wrestling fraternity have lost a huge number to the Dressing Room in the Sky, if the Reunion movement is to continue around the UK we need your continued support otherwise the Reunions will eventually fade away and we will only be left with our own memories with nobody to share them with.
(Johnny Saint addresses the Reunion)
On Sunday 9th August the British Wrestlers Reunion staged a Reunion like no other. Instead of our usual celebration of wrestling this years event was held in tribute to Wayne (Bill) Bridges and Mark Rocco, two of the greatest, who sadly passed away in March and July respectively.
If the death of two wrestling legends was not bad enough for us, we all have been affected by the terrible Coronavirus and whilst we had been urged to pay some form of tribute to both Bill and Mark we in all honesty were not expecting anymore than about 50 people to attend this years Reunion. Therefore, we were somewhat surprised that approximately 150 people arrived at The Bridges to pay their respects to not only Bill and Mark but all the other wrestlers that have passed away this year.
As is customary, after the opening address, Colin Joynson normally leads the tributes to those that have passed to the Dressing Room in the Sky. Unfortunately, Colin was taken ill and had to return home (we are pleased to say he is now feeling a lot better) and as a result of this Frank Rimer offered his services to substitute for Colin. This year 30 members of the wrestling family have passed and all were remembered followed by a 10 bell count for which we thank Karl Heinz and Steve Cresswell and a minutes silence which, as always, was respected by all.
Bill Bridges was a great fan of bagpipe music in particular Amazing Grace and we were honoured that this was played as a tribute to him, again this was well received by all in attendance.
This years Reunion was to continue with tributes paid to both Bill and Mark by their colleagues and friends both in wrestling and in Bills case from the bodybuilding world which he remained heavily involved in until his death and also the boxing world as he was a keen supporter of the Dartford Boxing Club. Despite this being a sombre occasion, there were a few lighthearted stories along the way from the likes of Johnny Saint, Johnny Kincaid, Frank Rimer and Lloyd Ryan along with others. All of these tributes were wonderful to listen to and very fitting for both men.
Following on from the tributes to Bill and Mark the mood was lifted when the UKs number one Elvis tribute act, Scott Elvis, performed a medley of Elvis’ greatest hits and this was appreciated by everyone.
As always, we held a raffle and sold memorabilia (thanks to Roy Smith) and this year the Reunion is able to confirm that we will be donating £450.00 to charitable causes as previously advised.
This years Reunion was not one that anyone would relish organising and we are pleased that the UKs Reunion movement as a whole have supported us. The Scottish Wrestlers Reunion was represented this year by their President, Martin Gillott whilst the Blackpool Reunion was represented by their President and their Chairman, Johnny Kincaid and Tony Scarlo. Peter Thompson from the Leeds Reunion sent a message saying he was pleased we could get together with Bills close family and friends and pay tribute to him and to have a great day whilst Neil Evans from the Essex Reunion wrote to say he was wishing all a great day.
Whilst this was no ordinary Reunion we are pleased that we could give Bill and Mark a fitting tribute. We must of course thank Sarah Bridges for her hospitality, as you will understand this was a very difficult day for her and she, and the rest of the staff at The Bridges did a sterling job for us ensuring that social distancing/ppe etc was all in force.
We have loaded some photographs of yesterdays Reunion to the website and these can be found under the Reunion Galleries section.
We would finally like to once again thank everyone from the bottom of our heart who took the time to attend this years Reunion, especially at these very difficult times. We hope that over the next few months things will continue to improve and that next year we will be back to some form of normality. If this is the case then we hope to see many of you on Sunday 8th August for our 30th anniversary Reunion.
Thank you all for your continued support and please stay healthy and safe.
(Sarah Bridges releases the balloons in memory of her husband Wayne Bridges)
On Friday 31st July we brought you the very sad news that Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco had passed away aged just 69 years of age.
Since the announcement tributes have poured in from wrestlers, officials and fans from around the World on all forms of social media. Not since the passing of Mick McManus in 2013 have we seen such a response to a wrestlers passing which just goes to prove that Mark was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him. A selection of tributes received by us at the Reunion are as follows:-
Barbara-Ann Swan heartfelt sympathies to Marks family xx
Edwin Caldwell A great wrestler and a great lad. Eddie Rose (Manchester). RIP and condolences to Mark's family.
Tranch Tranch R I P MARK 🕷️
Lewis Spragg God bless you mark 🙏🙏👍🙏👍🙏👍🙏👍
Feargus McDonnell RIP Mark
Sam Betts Snr One of the finest grapplers ever to step foot in a ring & a great pullerover a sad day for wrestling r,I,p mark
Melanie Smith-langridge Very sad news indeed and quite a shock at a comparatively young age. RIP Mark and thank you for all the entertainment you gave wrestling fans, and for your tough, uncompromising style....
Chris WrestlingFurnace This is very sad news. I remember at a reunion a few years ago when Mark was guest of honour. There were many tributes to him, and the main theme throughout was that he never, ever, let anyone down. He once fought with a leg heavily bandaged, concealin…See more
Tracy Ann Bennett Oh no what a shame he was one of my mums favourites.r.i.p x
Tom Lees True💔
Lyndsey Mason Very very sad news indeed. Sending my love and condolences to Marks family, friends & colleagues alike. Aother taken too soon but he can now be added to the amazing ring in the sky. RIP Mark xx
Alan Sugden God bless rip mark
Tommy Millar RIP Rollerball :(
Carl Elliot Allum Rip mark always titanic battles v Marty
Michael Stockdale Very sad news. RiP
Clare McMahon So incredibly sad 💔 thoughts are with all who loved him Xx
Doug Mongan OMG
very sad news. One if the greats!!
May he rest in peace and rise in glory
Ellard Roberts RIP. Very sad to hear the news. Another of my heroes gone
Clifford Cowie Very sad, very few people really deserve to be called a legend but Mark was.R.I.P Mark Rocco
Stuart Arnold Sad news RIP
Ian Rhodes RIP Mark
Ben Roberts Gutted
Jane Wade Such a great loss to the wrestling fraternity xx 😢
Kevin Brown So sad to hear Rocco was a brilliant wrestler & a credit to the sport our thoughts & condolences go to his family & his wrestling family RIP Mark xx❤️❤️
Davy Anderson Jeez that is a shock, one of the greats
Richard Brock Sad news. One of my favourite all time British Wrestlers.
Shaun Marsh sad news rip mark
Darren Chivers RIP Mark, very sad news
Dave Twigg Oh thats a real shame, a real star in the ring & great ambassador for the sport, gutted.
Timothy Cross That's really sad news. He was an awesome wrestler. He brought wrestling up to another level. His bereaved family though can be heartened by a life well lived, and the excitement and interest he brought to millions of lives.
David Holden guys a legend
Stephen Day So sad to hear the sad news...we travelled together around 1979-85......ken: might it be prudent to reprint that lovely 1981 close up photo of mark,myself and stax?....do you still have it?....I just thought that it was a great photo of him in his prime,taken after a bout in walthamstow.x
Broderick Bassett Such awful and sad news. One of the great wrestling characters. In a year which seems so full of bad news this is such a terrible shock to anyone who watched Mark all those years ago. My sincere condolences to his family at such a difficult time.
Phil Coley I
Watched Mark On Lots Of Occasions At The Wolverhampton Civic Hall .
He Was A Tough Character In The Ring But He Had A Heart Of Gold Out Of It RIP Mark 🙏
Mark Wall The greatest wrestler of all time in my eyes an absolute legend and I'll never forget him RIP to the master of disaster thanks for the memories no other wrestler comes close.
Jason Spooner I worked for Mark , many years ago. I can honestly say he was a fantastic guy who will be sadly missed. Sending my love and condolences to all the family. RIP
Hugh Templeton Oh
no; in tears reading this.
I am glad he is no longer suffering.
Rest in Peace Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco; the greatest wrestler of all time.
Lance Nicholas This is a massive loss to the world of wrestling. I watched Rollerball close up at Belle Vue on countless occasions and was in awe of his performances. For me one of the all time greats of British Wrestling and certainly in my top 3 favourites. Sleep well Mark. Will never forget the enjoyment you provided for me. 😢
Martin Brady Gutted probably one of the best wrestlers ever . So so sad my condolences to his family. He was a legend and you couldn't meet a nicer man . Absolutely gutted
Peter Nulty Mark it was a privilege to work with you and travel with you. But most of all it was a privilege to know you and enjoy your company. My condolences to Ann, Jonno and Richie. Rest easy my friend.
Mark Firth He and his comrades were a big part of my Saturday afternoon’s as a kid. RIP Mark.
Dave Boyd An absolute tragedy. Mark was one of the standouts for me in my journey getting into traditional British wrestling this past year and I’m gutted I never got to meet him to get his two cents for my study. One of the best wrestlers the world has ever known
John C-West This is very sad news. A true Champion no longer with us. He will be sadly missed. Condolences to his family. RIP Rollerball. World Heavy-Middleweight Champion.
Rich Hils Such a shock to read this, so sad. A brilliant wrestler who was well respected. Condolences to his family and friends.
Tony White What
a shock I can't believe it, Mark was without doubt one of the best and a true
gentleman always had time for everyone.
My condolences to his family RIP❤️
Steve Cox Met him in the 90's on the canary islands, nice bloke, always a great figure on the British Wrestling scene. Many condolences.
David Daniels I cannot believe this news ! A terrible loss. I understand he did have health issues but I am still very shocked. RIP Mark, you were the best !
Debbie Betteridge So sad to hear this news a true great always knew it was going to be a great night when Rocco was on the bill ! Huge loss RIP Mark x
Simon Lang Very sad and unexpected news. Deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Another legend gone.
John Muir This
news saddens me deeply! Condolences to his family and friends!
The man is a true legend, way ahead of his way of thinking! He will be missed sorely!
Colin Daffern Very sad news. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. I'm so glad I got the chance to meet him at the reunion back in 2006.
Dean Ayass My favourite wrestler of my childhood. And a lovely man when I met him as an adult. Gutted. Leaves an amazing legacy.
Anthony Morris Wow.Shocked.A truly gifted man in so many ways.thoughts go out to the great ones family and friends
Zoe Clarke A great & massive loss to the wrestling world. He has left many memories for alot of people. Safe journey to the squared circle in the sky Mark with the other legends. Much love from Norwich xx
Edwards What a great man had a few chats at wrestling
reunions had plenty of time for his fans
Rip Mark you will be missed
Peter Hickenbottom Was only watching his bout with the Dynamite Kid yesterday. RIP Mark
Larry Green Mark Rocco will be remembered forever.I was so lucky to meet him 3 years ago at the reunion & tell him he was the best in the business for entertainment.He said “thank you, I really appreciate that
Austin Rigo Bless
Mick Mcmichael will be waiting for you in the ring in the sky....
He spoke many a good times about you x
Richard Harris Very sad. Rocco was one of the greats. His matches with Dynamite were years ahead of their time
Andrew Smith spa royal hall bridlington always top of the bill RIP mark rocco
Paul Gattrell Wow , this is a shock , so sorry to hear this, condolences to marks family and friend
Frank Thomas So sorry to hear this, Mark was a wrestler years ahead of his time, reunited with his Dad, will be much missed. RIP
Christopher Bucko Buckley This is sad news, One of the best wrestlers to ever grace the mat. RIP Rollerball
Stephen Cresswell Very sad news a great innovator sending condolences to the family 🤼
Steve Harbott Omg massive loss to the wrestling world, rip mark. You was the best off all time. So sad.
Bob Howison His battles with Marty Jones and Dave Fit Finlay were always tough and entertaining.
Sam Cadwallader Rip Mark "rollerball" Rocco thank you for the memories.
Jim Soucy RIP! First seen videos of him as the Original Black Tiger against the original Tiger Mask their matches were extraordinary! Got to see videos as himself when I started looking up British wrestling!
Douglas It’s hard to put into words how amazing a talent
Head & shoulders above most wrestlers, not just in wrestling ability , but charismatic & exciting.
Nigel Pacitti Talented guy and introduced more of an American style type wrestling while generally adhering to British rules to UK audiences..Sad loss
Jonathan Barnett Condolences to Mark's family. A true legend of wrestling.
David Walker This devastating news just sums up 2020 in a nutshell. The greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots and criminally underrated.
Francis Rowe My favourite British wrestler of all time, a true legend in the business when that term is thrown around lightly.
David Smith Omg, his battles with Marty Jones were the best... rip
John Lowing Very sad news. His style in the 70's and 80's was way ahead of it's time in British wrestling. And was a forerunner of the American style seen today.
Andrew David I'm devastated. Roller ball was one of my favourite heels. His matches with the Dynamite kid were legendary.😪
Dave Rocky Cullum My thoughts are with Marks family in this darkest hour , RIP The legend “Rollerball
Stephen Day R.I.P To one of the best in the business as someone once said no one went to the bar when mark wrestled the will be no more like mark rollerball rocco,
Steve Higgins One of the best, carried matches way before his time...
Brian Scott Ford Didn't he have a pub on Manchester Rd. Kearsley Forgotten the name.
Pete Coppola Sad to see this post RIP to The Maniac. Did he start hardcore? It seemed he would anything as a weapon, if it wasn't bolted down
Bob Smith So sorry to hear this terrible news, my thoughts and prayers and condolences to Mark and his family R.I.P, Mark.
Linda Murray One of my faves. Loved watching him on World of Sport wrestling. 💔💔💔
Nigel Hamlett One of the great wrestlers ever so sad news rest in peace buddy
Jon Waters Sad news. Great wrestler ahead of his time. RIP Mark.
Cameron Thomson Very sad to hear this, I knew him best as Black Tiger 1, many great matches
Ian Hancox Absolutely stunned condolences sent to the family
Andy Marsden Wow very sad new great wrestler watch him as a kid on world of sport
George Glen I am so sorry to hear this, he was a legend, God rest him
Tom Lees So sad RIP old buddy so sorry we never got to hold hands again!
Mick Daley RIP Mark. Well respected here and in the USA.
Carolyn Morris so very sad .. a true wrestling legend .. a favourite of mine for many years. RIP .. thoughts and love to his family and friends 💔
Gordon Pryor So so sad R.I.P. Mark My deepest sympathy to his wife and family
Shazz Maddison So sorry to see this. Thinking of his family and friends at this sad time xxx
Calum Hossack So sad,great heel and a great wrestler
Mike Connell Gutted. A big inspiration to me and one of the absolute best 😞
Gina Vetter My thoughts are with Mark's family and friends. R.I.P MARK X
Garry Vanderhorne A proper legend and ground breaking icon of World Wrestling. Rest in Power. xVx
Harold Weller I met him in the early 1980's, Sad news nice guy.
Julian Kirby Oh no.........one of the best, never stopped coming forward. Sad loss.
Silv Auriemma Very sad news. A true British Wrestling icon..... RIP
Dan Hopkins Sad news a true legend off the business. Thoughts are with his family
Stuart Dobbins Top
wrestler sadly missed
Followed him for years
Steven Tempest-Mitchell So sad but I will remember Mark with fond memories and the fact he was a top worker worldwide, and a nice man, just like his dad Jimmy, my thoughts are with the family, please remember him as he was a top athlete and wrestler, and just a nice man RIP 💔
Brian Syddall RIP
Mark I & millions more will still watch you
On You Tube.
John Hutchinson One of the all time greats...RIP Mark
Graham Robinson RIP MARK ONE OF MY FAVOURITE WRESTLERS
David Newson for me he was the Gov'nor. I'm gutted RIP x
Haruhiko Iwasawa Very big shock! Actually Black tiger did visit our country Japan a few years ago.
Simon Walker Oh no! What a shock, always watch him on You Tube.
Gareth James Phin R. I. P mark rollerball Rocco.
Gary Cook Was always one of my favourite wrestlers. Very sad news
Michael Stockdale Very sad news. Was always in the top 3 of best wrestlers Rest in peace
Peter Philip Sneesby God Bless RIP Mark Rollerball Rocco One of the great villains in the World Of Sport wrestling but a truly great wrestler none the less. He's matches against the likes of Marty Jones & Kendo Neversaki & Many others will be long remembered .. ❤💪😉
Cho Jim My favourite, RIP Rocco,
Shane Hennah The all time best ..feast well in the Great hall Rollerball , you have earned it
Garry Jones Am shocked and saddened by this such a great wrestler RIP Mark
David Webb R.i.p Marc
Michael Wittinbaker I am gutted 💔 deepest sympathies to his family, friends and fans 💔
James Bowkett Legend RIP
Simon Holden Very sad news.
Martin Thorne Real tough wrestler
Julie Thrasher Rip Marc volleyball Rocco
Gary Palmer 😮omg that has poleaxed me , 😪
Michael Pratt Great Wrestler
Dabinder Rana May his soul Rest In Peace 🙏🙏🙏
Davy Elder R,I,P, mark rocco,
Brian Lord I am so very sorry, my condolences go out to his family, a sad day indeed...
Ken Sowden 2020 is a year none of us will remember with any great fondness and today more sad news as one of the greatest wrestlers ever to step through the ropes, Mark Rollerball' Rocco has passed away at the age of 69.. Although Mark had been ill for some considerable time his passing is none the easier for any of us.. A wrestler who was ahead of his time and who always gave 110% every time he stepped into the ring. Mark has certainly left his legacy in wrestling, he is one of those who will never be forgotten and his memory will live on for generations to come.
Graham McRobert Rip 😢
Dave Rennie A true LEGEND the fans loved to hate....a proper heel who could produce all the heat required in any situation...Marc 'Rollerball' Rocco...Job done Sir! Wrestle In Peace!
Mark can now Rest in Peace leaving a legacy in the wrestling industry that will live on for years to come.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to announce that Christiane Gregory, the wife of wrestling legend Tony St Clair passed away at 11.30 on Thursday 30th July having battled cancer for 20 years.
Tony and Christiane were together for 27 years and married for 19 and were simply devoted to each other.
Our deepest sympathies go to Tony and his family at this very sad time and may Christiane now RIP.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On his retirement Mark lived in his luxury home in the Canary Islands, a premature end to his wrestling career had not stopped Mark from making a good living and he has 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. 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.
Sadly in later years Mark suffered from dementia and had full time care and on Friday 31st July the sad news was reported that Mark had passed away aged 69 years of age.
Tributes have poured in for Mark following his death from wrestlers, promoters, officials and fans from around the World and may he now RIP.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are very saddened to hear that Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco has passed away on Friday 31st July.
Although Mark has suffered over the last few years with health issues this has still come as a great shock to us all.
Mark was without doubt one of the all time greats of wrestling around the World and will be sadly missed.
A full tribute to Mark is posted above..
Mark has been added to the Dressing Room in the Sky.
We send our condolences to Marks family and friends at this very sad time.
(Joe accepts an award on behalf of the Reunion from our friends at the Scottish Wrestlers Reunion in 2017)
On Tuesday 27th July wrestling legend and Reunion President Joe D'Orazio celebrated his 98th birthday and we here at the Reunion received many greetings for him from wrestlers and fans around the World, a selection of these are as follows:-
Ross Mycroft Holmes Congratulations & happy Birthday Joe.
Roy Chamberlain Happy birthday Joe
Conor Clyde Lafferty Happy Birthday Joe!
Thomas Wright Happy birthday, hope you have a great day. Enjoy
Tony White Happy birthday Joe
Ken Sowden Happy 98th Birthday Joe, you are an inspiration to us all and without doubt one of the all time greats of wrestling. Hope you have a great day.
Stephen Cresswell Happy birthday to young joe and no celebrating it’s bad for you
John C-West Happy Birthday Joe.
Tim Gilks Happy birthday Joe.
Ben Hollis Happy Birthday Joe! Hope you have a great day.
Gina Vetter Happy
Tom Lees Happy Birthday Joe
Ann Richardson Happy birthday Joe
Broderick Bassett Many Happy Returns Sir!
Glyn Jenkins Hi to Joe just to say a very happy 98th birthday and congratulations from your number one fan David Boyes age fourtyeight,
Alan Ainsworth Happy Birthday
Bill Kinsey Congratulations Joe Happy Birthday
Jon Waters Happy birthday Joe
Micky West Happy birth day Joe
Gabriella Niccoli Happy Birthday Dad !! and Dad thanks you all for your kind thoughts !!
Antony J. Peters Happy 98th Joe!! Hope you enjoy your special day with the people that count!! Family & Close Friends!!
Stephen Cresswell Sending joe best wishes
Kevin Arthur As you know ken I've worked with joe happy birthday joe xx
Margaret Powell Best wishes to Joe, for his birthday and we hope he has the best time 🎂🎁🤗❣️
Ruslan C Pashayev Happy Birthday The Father of Wrestling !!! Long Life To The Patriarch of English Pro Wrestling!!!
Andrew Bryden Al the very best to you Joe. Andra
Chris Smith-Haynes Happy birthday Joe x
Neil Sands Congratulations to Joe he is without a doubt one of the nicest, kindest men you could ever meet.
Stuart McRoberts Happy Birthday Joe
Mick Sullivan Hi JoeHappy birthday and have a great day,
Richard Dartnall Happy Birthday Sir.
Tony White Happy birthday Joe, I hope you have a great time 🥂👍
Gary Wensor happy birthday joe many more mate x
Paul Harrisson-Sandra Harrisson Happy Birthday joe have a great day ·
Gary Johnson Happy Birthday!!!!
Sam Betts Snr All my best to you joe ',the godfather of wrestling indeed ,,
Chris WrestlingFurnace Happy birthday to Joe. I'd never met him before, but he greeted me like an old friend at the first reunion I attended about 20 years ago. What a wonderful man.
Clive Williams Happy Birthday Joe, have a great day
Tony Scarlo Happy birthday Joe still one of my best friends hope you have a great day
Tracy Ann Bennett Happy birthday x x
Jonathan Barnes happy birthday Joe hope your having a lovely day great photo xx
David Gee Happy Birthday to a legend
Frank Cullen Happy Birthday Joe, and here’s to many more 🙏
Frank Rimer Bob Stafford spoke with him today and Joe is in great spirits sending his love and best wishes to all. He is still very active writing his poetry and painting
Diane Fretwell Happy birthday Joe have a wonderful day xxxx 🤼♂️
Tracey E Kilby Happy birthday Joe xx
Pete Hall Happy
birthday to a true British wrestling legend
Have a great day Joe.
Edwin Caldwell Best wishes, Cheers! Eddie Rose (Manchester)
John Hutchinson Happy birthday Joe :)
Lewis Spragg A big happy birthday to One of the great legends of wrestling Joe have a great birthday mate 🎂🎉🎂🎉🎂👍👍👍👍👍
Neil Evans Happy Birthday Joe,
Staal du Plessis Happy birthday legend. Have a super day. May God bless you in the years to come
Tony StClair Happy Birthday 🎉
Wrestlers Reunion Scotland The Full Committee and all the Members of Wrestlers Re-Union Scotland would like to to take this opportunity to wish all the very best to the great Joe D'Orazio President of The British Westlers Reunion on the occasion of his 98th Birthday. All the very best to The Man and "The Legend of the Ring
Joe spent his birthday at home with his family and his daughter has advised us that he had an enjoyable time and that he would like to send his thanks to everyone who has sent him good wishes on his special day.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are deeply saddened to announce that former British Lightweight Champion Zoltan Boscik passed away peacefully on Saturday 25th July aged 81 years in the care home in which he was residing in Christchurch, New Zealand with his wife Suzanne at his bedside holding his hand.
Zoltan was born and raised in Hungary until the time of the Hungarian uprising. As a result of this Zoltan managed to cross the border to Austria and ultimately was one of the thousands of refugees who came to the UK. Zolton initially found factory work and in his spare time trained at Ted Beresford gymnasium, firstly as an amateur before entering the professional ranks.
Zoltan was a regular name on independent bills up and down the UK and eventually found himself in the employ of Paul Lincoln. Zoltan soon gained a reputation as one of the great lightweight wrestlers of his era.
In 1966 Lincolns merger with Joint Promotions gained Zoltan national coverage via the television screen and his regular appearances on World of Sport made him an instant hit with viewers across the UK. Whilst he was still facing his old foes Zoltan was now able to oppose other greats that Joint Promotions had to offer.
Zoltan became a regular at the Royal Albert Hall as well as on the small screen and he soon found himself in competition against the likes of Johnny