B: Beaumont - Bedford
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
The heaviest of the three Belshaw brothers who were trained in the Lancashire catch style was Arthur Beaumont, sometimes billed as Arthur Ricardo or Terrence Ricardo..
The red haired heavyweight had a brief flirtation with titles when he held the British mid heavyweight crown for a short time in 1963.
Titles aside Arthur was recognised as one of the "real" wrestlers respected by everyone in the business.
Beaumont was well versed in the Lancashire style of Catch, “Giving summat t’ get summat,” and the science of leverage and balance to outwit opponents.
No better example than his televised contest against Earl Maynard in January 1963 at Lime Grove Baths. Maynard, an internationally acclaimed wrestler, was a stone heavier than Beaumont, more powerful, and with a more well developed physique.
It was Beaumont, though, that had the wrestling knowledge and pure skill to outwit Maynard and win by the odd fall.
When it comes to wrestling there were few greater exponents than the Belshaw family. The Belshaw brothers learnt the professional wrestling business at “Pop Charnock' gym, and not the better known Riley's.
Cliff Belshaw, sometimes known sometimes as Cliff Beaumont was said by Billy Robinson to be one of the top three lightweight/welterweights, the other two being Jack Dempsey and Mel Riss.
Belshaw was a master of the understated art of wrestling. His skill made it all look so effortless as he deftly changed strategy to strike when least expected. His defeat of Joe Reid at Newcastle in 1948 led to recognistion in northern parts as Britsh and European champion, but in those days, of course, there was no nationally recognised set of champions.
Trained in the Lancashire style at Charnocks Gymnasium, Wigan, Belshaw used balance and leverage to outmanoeuvre opponents of all weights. Cliff appeared in the first UK televised wrestling show, from West Ham Baths on 9th November 1955 his opponent being Bert Royal. Often overlooked by fans who were attracted to those with a more flamboyant style there were few who could entertain with the pure science of wrestling in the way that Cliff Belshaw could.
The legendary Count Bartelli, a man who remained undefeated for twenty years, named Jack Beaumont as one of his two toughest opponents (the other being Bert Assirati. "Beaumont was a very hard wrestler and never let up," said Bartelli.
Jack and his brothers started off as an acrobatic group, which led to an interest in amateur wrestling. All three brothers were also undertakers, following in the footsteps of their father who was Funeral Director in Wigan.
One of the top light heavyweights in the country Beaumont trained at Charnock’s gymnasium in Wigan. As early as 1948 he was reckoned to be the only serious contender for Jack Dale’s middleweight title. In his first visit south, in 1948, Beaumont held Dale to a draw.
Even in those early post war days Jack Beaumont received international recognition and in 1948 travelled extensively throughout Europe. Jack died at far too early an age, just 45, following a bout in Chorlton in 1963. He left the ring following a contest against Spike Robson, collapsed on his way back to the dressing room and was pronounced dead from a heart attack on arrival at Withington hospital
Jack's daughter, Glenys, told us “My Dad had a passion for American cars at a time when most families didnt even own a car. I remember him dropping me off at school and all the kids wanting to look at his car.”
He was the brother of Arthur and Cliff Belshaw, with Belshaw being the family name.
The Irish-Canadian tag attached to Billy Joe Beck's name on the posters may well have been the promoter's attempt to add a bit of glamour (Billy Joe's father was born in Canada), but the young Belfast wrestler would have proved popular in any case.
Trained by Jack "Flash" Shirlow, with Darkie Arnott, Tiger Joe Moore and Dave Finlay also proving influential, Billy Joe knew his way around the wrestling ring.
With a background in judo it was Jack Shirlow (photo right) that prepared Billy Joe for his wrestling debut with matches around Ireland in the first year or two.
In 1980 Billy Joe followed the well worn path across the Irish Sea and began working for the independent promoters.
Within a short time he was working for Joint Promotions and made his television debut in 1984. The following year Billy Joe had the distinction of wrestling Alan Kilby in the last televised tournament that was part of the World of Sport programme. Although his career spanned three decades (he retired in 1991), and included top class opposistion such as Kung Fu and Les Kellett, the last twenty years have seen Billy Joe gain further fame and respect in a very different role.
When he retired from his full time job in the fire service in 1998 Billy Joe began to devote even more of his time to charity work, most notably helping children with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Since retiring he has been appointed Director of RAMS (Race Against Multiple Sclerosis) and is now well know throughout Ireland for his work in supporting this good cause.
When wrestlers discuss their opponents one name frequently mentioned as a hard man to wrestle, let alone beat, is Dave Bedford.
Few could deliver a swinging back breaker like Dave. Dave's tenacity is rooted in more than a dozen years as a national class amateur combined with the strength developed working down the pit and the grafting instinct of working his own farm, which he does to this day.
Dave learned the professional trade under the watchful eye of former British heavyweight champion Ernest Baldwin. Most of Dave's work was for the independent promoters. He was invited to work for Joint Promotions, and did so for a short time, but preferred the greater freedom he found working for the independents.
Dave had his own gymnasium on his farm where he and other wrestlers worked out together.
Dave also promoted his own shows around Yorkshire during the 1970s and 1980s.