We are always pleased to hear from ex wrestlers or their family members, and welcome information or photos from anyone to enhance the A-Z section.
We include two wrestlers known by the name Johnny Angel. First on the scene was a Sheffield wrestler born John Marsden. Welterweight Johnny worked for independent promoters in the north of England during the 1960s and also worked in Spain.
Like many wrestlers he was the landlord of two public houses in later life, the Grapes and the Captive Queen in Sheffield before retiring to Chesterfield and passing away, in January 2007, aged 76.
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A 1980s wrestler who really knew how to work a crowd, and one who would have made it to the top in the heyday of the postwar revival according to Dwight J Ingleburgh. Johnny Angel was just fourteen years old when he turned professional.
Mind you, wrestling was in his blood as he was trained by his father, Crazy Dave Adams. Like many others Johnny had dabbled in boxing before wrestling became the greater attraction. Early bouts were for Cyril Knowles and other independent promoters before moving across to Joint Promotions in 1990.
A muscular, aggressive wrestler Johnny was a great villain, sometimes pulling on a mask and adopting various names, probably most often remembered as one of the Undertakers tag team. During his career he tussled with some of the biggest names in the business, including Jim Breaks, Ray Steele, Barry Douglas and Giant Haystacks. On numerous occasions Johnny played the part of the hero and tagged with Big Daddy to put to right the baddies of the wrestling world. He retired from wrestling in 1996.
Bob Anthony, the wrestling beatle, was a popular welterweight that appeared for independent and Joint Promotions during the 1960s. His skill and agility enabled him to travel the world, meeting and beating the best in the business.
He was one of a group of wrestlers chosen by Paul Lincoln to take part in a prestigious tour of the Far East in the early sixties. Son of Bob Archer O’Brien he had a notable 2-0 win over Alan Sargeant before the latter took the British welterweight title.
Dad might well have known a lot about wrestling but he didn't know that Bob was learning to wrestle at a local police gym! Trained by policeman, Tom Pinch, how's that for an appropriate name?
When Bob turned professional, in 1956, it was a Devereux Promotions show at Wimbledon Palais, and the former British champion, Eddie Capelli, was in the opposite corner. Also on the same bill were Mike Marino, Bob McDonald, Eric Taylor, Bert Royal and Eddie Capelli. We can only imagine what must have gone through the youngster's mind that night.
Early in 1962 the formation of a wrestlers' trade union led to an ultimatum from Joint Promotions. Bob refused to sign any document restricting his right to work and moved across to the independent promoters, particularly Paul Lincoln Management and on his own shows. Bob returned to Join Promotions in January, 1966, when Paul Lincoln Management amalgamated with Dale Martin Promotions.
Romford’s Chris Anthony was not only a skilful welterweight he was also the younger brother of Bob Anthony and son of the great Bob Archer O'Brien.
Chris became involved in wrestling as a second for the independent promoters. He was keen to learn and older brother, Bob, was a good tutor.
Many of his earlier bouts were as Bob's tag partner against other young tag teams, most memorably Jon and Peter Cortez. Away from big brother
Chris was more than capable of taking care of himself against the top wrestlers on both the independent and Joint Promotions circuits.
In January 1966 he was one of the wrestlers to transfer to Joint Promotions when Paul Lincoln Management amalgamated with Dale Martin Promotions.
Back in the old days we knew who the bad guys were because we had rules.
Admittedly some of the wrestlers didn't seem to understand the concept, but without a clear set of rules we wouldn't have had so much fun and wouldn't have villains.
Here we had a villain of the first order.
The black tights, the trimmed beard, the heavily tattooed arms, and a snarl at the audience left few in doubt that here was a wrestling baddie.
Those not persuaded at once were usually convinced as the first round opened with blind side moves, failure to break on the ropes and a few more snarls and complaints to fans and referee.
Mark Anthony reached British shores in 1968, and again in 1972, travelling here from his native Australia as part of an extensive world tour. Anthony was rewarded with a 1968 Royal Albert Hall outing against Tibor Szakacs, which he dutifully lost.
In fact, Mark Anthony did the right thing on most occasions, and made the British boys look good!.
We watched this Pakistani welterweight in the northern independent rings of the 1960s against opponents such as Ray Taylor, Hamid Ali Gill and The Zulu. We remember a capable wrestler who lacked the charisma to make him memorable. We just hope that unknowing to us he changed his name and became a superstar! We'd be interested to learn more about what happened to him.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information
Johnny “Greek” Apollo hailed from Athens and wrestled on both sides of the Atlantic as well as Australia. Having wrestled as an amateur in Tripolis Johnny turned professional in 1960. This was after moving to Montreal, where he had been trained in the ways of the professional world by Tony Lanza at the Montreal YMCA. Following early success in Canada he moved on to the United States, then Australia, and eventually Europe. He was always immaculately dressed as he entered the ring in his velvet dressing gown.
Johnny was a popular stockily built mid heavyweight performer in British rings in the early 1960s, making his first appearances northern rings and Scotland during the winter of 1962. He set up home in Brixton, London, and appeared in the south of England the following winter, when he also gained national exposure by losing through a knock-out to Bill Howes in a 1963 televised contest. He returned to television screens again during his 1965 visit, facing Welshman Tony Orford.
For professional purposes we uderstand he changed his name from Charialaos Tsimogiannis to Johnny Apollo. We wonder why?
Coal miner Eric Hodginson was a man of many incarnations. He is remembered by television fans as Eric “Tubby” Hodgson, another in the long line of opponents doing their bit to create the Big Daddy myth by dutifully going down to the big man. We remember him from earlier times when he was known as Vince Apollo (the visiting American superstar), or donned a mask and wrestled as one of the top masked men who who toured independent and later Joint Promotion rings to some success and notoriety. Find out more in the Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men. In the 1980s he resurfaced once again as Baby Blimp. Two decades earlier Eric had begun his wrestling career working for promoter Jack Taylor adapting his nickname from his childhood, Odie, to become Odie The Terrible. Odie had turned professional in April, 1961, facing his tutor, Ronto the Bull, at Heanor Town Hall. For much of the early part of his career he wrestled for independent promoters, usually in the East of England, but venturing throughout the north and midlands when required. When working for Joint Promotions he travelled further afield, usually in the North and Midlands, but on occasions into Scotland. Twenty years after turning professional, and having wrestled most of the big names in British wrestling for both opposition and Joint Promotions, a leg injury at the Underwood Pit where he worked brought Eric's wrestling career to an end. ______________________________________________________________________
Two decades earlier Eric had begun his wrestling career working for promoter Jack Taylor adapting his nickname from his childhood, Odie, to become Odie The Terrible. Odie had turned professional in April, 1961, facing his tutor, Ronto the Bull, at Heanor Town Hall.
For much of the early part of his career he wrestled for independent promoters, usually in the East of England, but venturing throughout the north and midlands when required.
When working for Joint Promotions he travelled further afield, usually in the North and Midlands, but on occasions into Scotland. Twenty years after turning professional, and having wrestled most of the big names in British wrestling for both opposition and Joint Promotions, a leg injury at the Underwood Pit where he worked brought Eric's wrestling career to an end.
ODIE THE TERRIBLE
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When Ray Apollon was in the ring the ring shook.
A very powerful and strong heavyweight billed from Trinidad, but born in New York, who gained fame and success in both the UK and America during the 1950s and 1960s.
He turned professional in June, 1952, and came to the UK for the first time in December of that year. His first UK contest was a loss to Ernie Baldwin, but he went on to meet, and beat, the best.
He moved around the ring with some grace for a man of his size.Billed on occasions as the Black Prince he met big names of the day such as Black Butcher Johnson, Jack Pye, Zebra Kid and Ian Campbell.
For thirteen years he topped bills around the country, popular with fans who appreciated his skill and agility for such a big man.
Ray did not fit the common brawny image of a heavyweight wrestler, being a universtity graduate with an interest in politics.
The name Black Prince resurfaced once again in the 1980s with the emergence of Steve Prince.
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