When Stratford's Chris Adams joined the ranks of the professional matmen in 1978 it was soon apparent that the judoka apparel was no gimmick.
Adams was a former national judo champion who turned to wrestling after being chosen for the 1976 Olympics judo squad but had not been selected to compete. Introduced to wrestling by his friend, Jackie Turpin, it was watching Dynamite Kid in action that inspired Chris to graduate to the professionl ranks. Peter Kaye helped prepare Chris for his professional debute (against Kaye himself) and quickly established himself as a fan's favourite, doubtless helped by so many of his early bouts having his reliable mentor, Kaye, in the opposite corner. With added confidence he was soon matched against other established villains John England, Sid Cooper and Mark Rocco. Adams style worked best against the rule benders.
To say that he was given a "push" is something of an understatement as he was given national exposure in no fewer than seven televised contests between July and December in the year he made his professional debut. We can think of no one else who rose from the ranks of tackling trusty Peter Kaye in his tv debut and went on to oppose Mick McManus in both single and tag combat in a matter of weeks. Whilst we do not dispute Adams talent and believe he could have been a main eventer in any post war period the development of his short UK career is characteristic of much that was wrong with British wrestling in the late seventies - little formal wrestling training, tv over-exposure, a too rapid rise through the ranks, judo matches, entanglement in the Big Daddy routine, and gimmick contests such as the one in which he threw McManus the required ten times without being thrown himself.
In 1980 Japanese visitor to the UK, Yasu Fuji, encouraged Chris to try his hand in the United States. In 1981 Chris Adams began wrestling in America, where he later moved. He found success in the United States, on which our American readers might like to expand, but that was the beginning of another tragic tale which led to his untimely death in a gunshot incident in October, 2001.
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Crazy Dave Adams, the name says it all - a tremendous heavyweight villain. It seems that half of Barnsley must have been down at Charlie Glover's Junction Gym in Barnsley.
Dave Adams was there, learning the business alongside Pedro the Gypsy, Dwight J Ingleburgh, Karl Von Kramer, Bruno Elrington and the other Barnsley lads. A fan who watched his wrestling at the Doncaster Corn Exchange it was a chance meeting with Leon Arras that led Dave to the Junction Gym of Leon's father.
That was in 1959 and Dave trained for two years before making his debut, aged just 17, against Dwight J Ingleburgh He learned the trade well, travelling up and down the country enraging fans with his dastardly deeds against opponents that included Les Kellett, Ricky Starr and Shirley Crabtree.
In the 1980s Dave was re-fashioned as Pitman's Hercules by promoter Max Crabtree, a name revived from the all-in days of British wrestling. Dave Adams was also one of the faces behind the mask in the 1990s version of The Undertakers tag team, his son Johnny Angel being the other half.
Welterweight wrestler from York who was very active in the early sixties working for Morrell-Beresford and Relwyskow and Green against the likes of John Foley, Chic
Purvey, Alan Colbeck and Keith Martinelli. There was a George Adams in the 1940s, could this have been him? Or we wonder, could this have been Roger Adams, known to wrestling fans as Steve Best?
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Robert Adams was a pioneering figure in the rings of the 1930s who demonstrated that the colour bar of the day could be overcome in wrestling and the other professional area in which he excelled, acting.
For wrestling fans Adams was more familiar using the noms de plume Black Eagle and Black Tiger. He was the son of a boat builder, born in British Guiana. In 1920 Adams won a scholarship to train as a teacher at Jamaica's Mico teacher's training college. Robert took up amateur dramatics whilst teaching in British Guiana and following his move to Britain took up wrestling to supplement his wrestling aspirations.
Robert began appearing in films as an extra in 1934, and made history when he was the first black actor to appear on British television. This was in 1937, and the following year he was the first black actor to play a lead role on British television. In 1946 Robert had a leading role in “Men of Two Worlds,” another pioneering role as a lead non-American black actor in a British film. Robert Adams also founded the Negro Repertory Arts Theatre.
As a wrestler Adams was active in British rings throughout the 1930s, usually facing top names such as Atholl Oakeley, Bill Garnon and Sam Rabin.
Scunthorpe's Keith Addy, who worked mainly for Cyril Knowles in the latter 1960s and early 1970s, could certainly move around the ring; no doubt helped his experience as a gymnast. Mind you, being nimble didn't stop him from being a tough fellah with muscular physique. Don't take our word for it; that's the opinion of Ray Robinson, himself recipient of the Hard As Nails Award from the Wrestlers Reunion. Keith and Ray trained together and Keith was Ray's first professional opponent. As the more experienced man he gave Ray a hard time in that match, but Ray trained hard to return the compliment a short time later.
The Oriental term Ate Waza denotes techniques that use impact to accomplish their goal.
The Continental heavyweight Gaby Caldereon considered Professor Attewaza a fitting name to adopt when he entered British rings in the early 1960s.
The name quickly metamorphosed into the softer sounding Professor Adiwasser.
Whatever the name the bespectacled barefoot Parisian became one of the main event favourites of the fledgling Paul Lincoln Promotions. Fledgling promoter Lincoln scoured the continent for new faces to draw the fans to the shows he was presenting in opposition to Joint Promotions. In 1960 he imported Frenchman Gaby Calderon to face his assortment of top independent heavies who included Alan Garfield, Prince Kumali, Docker Don Stedman, Dr Death and Judo Al Hayes.
Adiwasser was to remain a loyal worker for Lincoln, visiting a couple of times each year until Lincoln merged with Dale Martin promotions in January 1966. Following the merger Adiwasser was not seen in Britain until January 1968 when he returned for Joint Promotions. On 24th January he made his first appearance at the Royal Albert hall, drawing with Judo Al Hayes, and shortly afterwards was an immediate hit with television fans when he made his debut, against Johnny Czeslaw, in February 1968.
A second dan black belt judoka exponent, (known as “The king of Attewaza) this popular technician was the scourge of heavyweight villains. When the technician had worked his magic he would often finish off his opponent with his speciality sleeper hold.
Black leotarded and now wearing a black mask, a heavier Professor Adiwasser appeared briefly in British rings during the early 1980s, making a television appearance against Johnny Wilson in June, 1981. Beneath the mask was the very same Gaby Calderon. The masked Adiwasser defeated Wilson with a sleeper hold.
Gaby Calderon died on 19th August, 2012, aged 83.
Two African Krugers have appeared in British rings. The first appeared post war. Our only records of his appearances are in Lancashire, which may or may not be a clue to his identity.
In the 1980s Max Crabtree attempted to introduce a bit of interest into his failing business interests by introducing low cost characters with little ability.
The second allegedly South African wrestler appeared in Britain during 1980. His tactics enraged the fans, especially when he was as was often the case, a luckless opponent to Big Daddy.
He did little better against less notable opponents that included Gary Wensor, Ringo Rigby and Ray Steele. Partnered African Rand in The African Springboks tag team with a couple of notable contests, losing to John Quinn andRex Strong at the Royal Albert Hall, and an entirely predictable tv defeat at the hands of Big Daddy and Pete Ross.
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Like his tag partner African Kruger the villainous African Rand appeared in British rings during 1980.
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