WRESTLING HERITAGE

A hobby site created by enthusiasts of 
British wrestling celebrating wrestling and 
wrestlers from 1930 onwards through 
fifty glorious years of British wrestling history

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Jose Arroyo

The bald headed Spaniard from Madrid was an obsessive globetrotter who travelled the rings of the world displaying his technical skill, though he could undoubtedly  mix it with the best of them.

Arroyo was a regular feature of British rings in the 1950s and 1960s, tackling the best on offer, including losing to Tibor Szakacs at the Royal Albert Hall. He made  television appearances against Mike Marino and Tibor Szakacs.

The Spaniard was equally popular in Germany where he was a regular competitor in the German tournaments. 

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Ebo Ashanti

Six weeks of UK appearances in October 1978. A reported win over Ted Heath stands out amongst less than glorious results against Peter Kaye, Bert Royal, John Naylor. Took part in a number of 2v1 matches (with various partners) against Giant Haystacks.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Syd Askin

Syd Askin was a hard man. Stamina and strength weren't the only qualities of a good wrestler resulting from years working underground at Goldthorpe and Highgate Colliery near Doncaster. The dangerous underground environment also demanded good communications and co-operative skills, which are also essential qualities of successful wrestlers.

With a background in boxing and judo Syd was watching wrestling one Saturday and thought, "I could do that." With the confidence and cheek of a 21 year old he telephoned George de Relwyskow and talked himself into a trial. Having seen so many boastful youngsters George was understandably sceptical of the youngster, but when Syd removed his shirt to uncover his mighty chest, the promoter made a quick re-assessment and knew that here was a big, powerful lad.

The big, powerful lad then demonstrated he had the potential to make a wrestler and was invited to learn the business, turning professional in 1972. The following year Syd appeared on television himself, facing Roy St Clair, Steve Logan and Caswell Martin. The Judo Syd tag was no colourful invention of a creative promoter. Syd took only twenty months to reach black belt first dan, and is now a level 3 judo coach. For the past 25 years he has taught judo in Malta and during his wrestling career opened no fewer that four judo clubs.  

Bruno Asquini

Bruno Asquini was a rugged, cauliflowered-eared middleweight who  came to British shores in the spring of 1961. 

This first of numerous visits was to work for the independent promoters, with opponents including George Kidd and Ken Joyce, who were at that time also working for the opposition.

The weather and the food couldn't have been too bad because he returned in 1965, a tour that included bouts with Clayton Thomson on television and Les Kellett at the Royal Albert Hall; both hard matches that ended in knock-out defeats.

It was a happier outcome in July 1968 when he wrestled in the presence of HRH Prince Philip, defeating Steve Logan as a member of the French team with Jean Corne, Gil Cesca, and Jacques Lageat  against the London team of Mick Mcmanus, Jackie Pallo, Steve Logan and Al Hayes.

Bert Assirati

Born in July, 1908, and named after his grandfather, Islington’s Bartolomeo Esserati grew up to become arguably Britain’s greatest ever heavyweight.

He was such a dominant real wrestler that it has been claimed many professionals of the day avoided facing him in the ring.

Having his first professional match in 1928 Bert Assirati’s career spanned both sides of the Second World War and both All-in and freestyle rules. In 1931 he wrestled in the USA and stayed until the following year.

He claimed the British Heavyweight belt in October 1945 and relinquished it in 1950 when he toured India. On March 4th 1947 he was crowned World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Ivor Martinsen in the final of a championship tournament at Haringey. 

He added the European Heavyweight Title in 1949, which he also vacated on touring India. Shortly after returning to Britain in 1955 the Heavyweight Champion Tony Mancelli retired and Bert Assirati regained the title when he defeated Ernie Baldwin in a heavyweight tournament.

When the World Heavyweight Champion, Lou Thesz, visited Britain in 1957 he was challenged by Bert Assirati. Much has been speculated about the American's alleged refusal to meet Assirati but the bout was a non starter as Assirati was by then working for the independent promoters and not the Joint Promotions organisation for whom Thesz was working.  Bert Assirati held the British title until he was stripped of the title by Joint Promotions in 1958.

He continued to be recognised by a group of independent promoters, known collectively as the British Wrestling Federation, for a further two years. The BWF stripped Assirati of the title in 1960 whilst he was recovering from injury. 

Read our extended tribute: No Angel of Islington

Costas Astreos

Costas Astreos was the wrestling name of Costas Tofalos. Claimant of the Greek  light heavyweight championship Costas Astreos was one of the wrestlers selected to take part in wrestling demonstrations shown in the early days of BBC television, with Charles “College Boy” Law in August 1939.

He was a skilled wrestler who could hold his own with the best middle and light heavyweights Britain could offer, such as British champion Richard Wills, and held at least one win over Harold Angus.

Costas Astreos worked regularly in Britain from 1933 until 1944.
Claimant of the Greek middleweight championship Costas Astreos was one of the wrestlers selected to take part in wrestling demonstrations shown in the early days of BBC television, with Charles “College Boy” Law in August 1939.

Worked regularly in Britain from 1933 until 1944.

Jack Atherton

Jack Atherton learned the trade as a pre war All-in wrestler. He continued to compete in the new post war freestyle rules until well into the 1950s before becoming a promoter in the North. In March 1938 Ring Magazine reported, … a supporting bout saw the "Brown Masked Marvel," a hooded light heavy, take two straight from Jack Atherton of Lancashire . . .”

Most of his results were more fortunate than that because Jack was one of the wrestling greats, though not a man who remained within the rules. He is reputed to have been disqualified in his first professional contest.

Following the war Jack returned to the ring and adopted the new fangled Mountevans style. In the second half of the 1940s he was a huge favourite around the country and  could be seen wrestling at Belle Vue most weeks, and was a favourite at those other great venues New St James Hall, Newcastle and the Victoria Hall, Hanley.  He finally retired from the ring in the late 1950s, having notched up more than two decades inside the ring.

For Jack retirement was not the end of the story. He went on to form a business partnership with Billy Riley and Frank Woodhouse that encompassed enterprises outside of wrestling as well as wrestling promoting. Never directors of Joint Promotions they had an arrangement with the controlling group that allowed them to use Joint Promotion wrestlers, and combining these with new faces made Jack Atherton  amongst the most interesting of promoters.

Wrestlers stories are testament to Jack’s characteristics as a promoter, where he combined generosity, kindness and fairness with an astute business brain and an eye for saving a few bob!

Dale Storm remembers working for Jack Atherton:

As a pro I worked for a lot of promoters over my career, but seldom did I feel as comfortable in the dressing room than when I was in the company of Jack Atherton. He stood out among the "Gaffers" and although he was of a fairly small stature, even when sporting his wonderful hat, he was a giant of a man, both to me personally and I'm sure to many, many others whom he helped to establish. He looked after you, he gave you respect and the best of advice and he paid better than most. He had real class when he performed himself and had a glittering career in the ring, and he was always quick to recognise the potential in others.

Eddie Rose:

Jack was enthusiastic, respectful and as straight as they come.

He taught me more about wrestling holds and moves than anybody else and he used to give up his Sundays to supervise (with Ken Cadman) the wrestling training at the old Wryton Stadium in Bolton. He made us learn Catch wrestling a la Wigan and he used to bring lads over from Riley's gym to make sure we learned - Billy Chambers (Jack Fallon), Alan Woods, "Tall Tommy" Heyes. They "screwed" us into the mat week after week until Jack was satisfied that the likes of Paul Mitchell, Johnny South, Bobby Ryan, Mark Wayne, Mad Dog Wilson, Pete Lindberg, myself etc knew enough to be able to look after themselves in any ring and were then judged suitable for the professional ring. Oh, what fun!! But thank you for the thorough grounding Jack.

I lived very near to Jack in Levenshulme, Manchester and I was a frequent caller at his house and spent many hours listening to his stories and to his insights. His wife and daughter always made any visiting wrestler welcome.

There was an air of innocence about Jack and he was often the source of unintended amusement but he was held in respect and affection by the lads who worked for him. His funeral at Manchester's Southern Cemetery was attended by hundreds and was a "Who's Who" of wrestling

Jack Atherton passed away on 21st December, 1991.

Craven Atkins

A busy worker around Southern England from 1950 until 1954. His sudden disappearance  makes us wonder if he changed his name to someone else we know.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Maurice Atkinson

A welterweight from Bradford worked regularly throughout the north of England during the 1950s, opponents included quality opposition such as Jim Mellors, Danny Flynn and Bernard Murray.

Worked for Joint Promotions during the 1950s, drifting across to the independents in 1960 and disappearing shortly afterwards.

Shown in the photo towards the end of his career in a match for independent promoters against the Skeleton Man.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.