As he climbed into the ring and sneered at the crowd arrogance visibly oozed from every pore of Jim Breaks’ body. A master of dubious, and sometimes not so dubious rule bending tactics Breaks was very unpopular The crowd disliked him, and their dislike became more vocal as he relentlessly punished his opponent. Invariably jeers turned to cheers as Breaks' opponent temporarily turned the tables and Jim turned to tears and tantrums. One or more of the audience would throw a baby's dummy into the ring and chants of "Cry Baby" would begin to echo around the hall. Breaks' tantrum would become even more emphasised before he demonstrated genuine wrestling ability to be declared winner yet again.
He was one of the greatest post war British lightweights. His professional career followed a successful amateur career in which he was Yorkshire and Northern Counties Featherweight Champion.
Trained by Bradford wrestler Bernard Murray he turned professional in 1958, losing to Bernard in that first professional contest at Eltham. His speciality was a punishing submission hold called the Jim Breaks Special. The man was special in other ways also as he was one of the greatest post war lightweight professional wrestlers.On 16th October, 1963 he gained the first of many British lightweight championship victories. Other title successes followed with the British welterweight championship and the European lightweight title.
Read our interview: Getting Verbal
celebrates the night Jim Breaks snatched the British Lightweight title.
As reported in The Wrestler
However much the fans may have taken to the blond haired, muscular German heavyweight the promoters did him no favours at all.
That is unless you welcome being put in with the very best during a four day visit.
Four days that included getting knocked out in front of 5,000 fans by Tibor Szakacs at the Royal Albert Hall, witnessed by television fans nationwide losing by the odd fall to World Mid Heavyweight champion Mike Marino, and going down in the relative obscurity of the Wirina Stadium, Peterborough to the powerful Pat Roach.
There was a fourth match in Southampton but we have no record of his opponent or the result.
Got to admit, it's not looking good though.
Hungarian heavyweight champion Mike Brendel worked in the United States and Canada in the first half of the 1930's, coming to Britain in 1935. We have heard reports that he served four years in a prisoner of war camp during world war 2, following which he moved to France.
Big Bill was a regular worker from the 1930s until the 1950s about whom we know very little.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
A regular worker in the 1940s and 1950s about whom we would welcome more information.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information
Just one look was all it took to make you think that here was a man you didn't want to meet on a dark night.
The Belgian colossus visited the UK in 1974 with mixed fortunes. Defeated Terry Rudge and Judd Harris in his televised contests. Harris reversed the decision off screen and the Belgian was disqualified in contests against top rated heavyweights such as Gwyn Davies, and Bruno Elrington.
It's All About the Memories
Some 40 odd years ago I would go to the Public Hall in Preston and the Queens hall to watch wrestling. My dad who took me along would always encourage me to ask the various wrestlers for their autographs. Can you imagine a small boy of 8/9 standing in front of some of these giants asking for there autograph? I did meet some of the greats at the time. All the Pye family Jack, Dominic and I think Casey !!!!!. My dad and I were regular lyinvited back into the dressing room to meet various wrestlers. Why? You ask. Well my dad was very freindly with one of the seconds, not what you know but who. My memories of all these nights and afternoons will stay with me forever.and yes saturday afternoon watching yourself on the tv, with Kent Walton at the wrestling GREAT. Your site brings some great memories back to me, despite reading that some of the greats from my era have now passed away. The site is brilliant keep up the great work.
Eddie de Wilde
Boy next door turns wrestler. Wayne Bridges seemed the sort of man every parent would like their daughter to bring home.
This popular heavyweight from Gillingham,Kent, began wrestling professionally for Paul Lincoln Promotions in 1964 after a five year amateur career at the Ashdown Club. When Lincoln merged with Joint Promotions in 1966 Bridges quickly established himself as a television favourite and became the Heavyweight Champion of Kent.
His flying head butt speciality, agilty and technical ability led to wins over many top heavyweights, though appearances were usually limited to the South. Despite his popularity it was still a surprise to UK fans when Bridges lifted a European version of the World Heavyweight Title.
There is no doubt that Bridges lived up to every expectation that fans could reasonably have of a World Heavyweight Champion. His proud championship defences and bloody losses kept alive the glory days of British pro wrestling in the early 80s, as he repelled and succumbed to foreign baddies such as John Quinn and Spiros Arion, and in-the-know fans rate Bridges’ heel turn as one of the finest ever seen.
Another nail in the coffin of professional wrestling when Bridges retired in 1989.
Read our extended tribute: Wrestling To The Top Of the World
Yes there was a Haystacks before the mammoth Martin Ruane. A man who relied on size, strength and dubious tactics Haystacks Bright certainly had the ability to upset the fans.
Nowhere near as big as the 1970s giant we saw Haystacks Ed Bright just the once, and whilst admittedly a big man he didn't look close to the twenty-four stones that was claimed. Following the war Strangler Ed Bright was one of the Oakeley men, as Atholl Oakeley strived to re-establish his pre-war promotions against the unstoppable tide of promoters using the new fangled Mountevans rules. In one famous match he was dwarfed by the huge German, Kurt Zehe, when they met at the Royal Albert Hall in 1952.
When Oakeley ceased promoting Ed (real name William) continued working for the independents and was one of the big names for Paul Lincoln Promotions and opposition promoters around the country. We last saw him in action working for Cape Promotions in 1965.
One of the bright young things that sprung onto the professional circuit working for Dale Martin Promotions in 1977 when he was just 17 years old. Dean was immensely popular with fans and a talented young wrestler. Initially billed as Mike Dean the name was quickly dropped to avoid confusion with a northern heavyweight. Despite being the son of Wayne Bridges he did not get the "push" from the promoters that many felt he deserved, Heavyweight champion Tony St Clair amongst them. The wrestling world was robbed of a future star when Dean tragically passed away in his early twenties.
Len Law chose the ring name Len Britton and became one of the stalwarts who, as wrestler and promoter, helped get the post war UK wrestling business back onto its feet. Len trained at the John Ruskin Amateur Wrestling Club, alongside renowned amateur Stan Bissell. before before turning professional wrestler.
Stories abound about Len. Driving back home with a group of fellow wrestlers one night they stopped at a transport cafe. Len, who was wearing a black high neck vest, put on a detachable white collar, resembling a vicar. He led the way into the Café where the drivers were eating their meal and swearing and cursing in their normal way. Len tapped on the table and they all looked up. He said "Gentlemen can I ask you to moderate your language then I can bring in the members of my flock in for tea?" Of course they all became silent he then beckoned them to come in. In they came, one with an arm in a sling, one with a crutch and many bandages and plasters on their faces, and real bruises. They hobbled to tables, the drivers realised they had been taken in and they laughed for a long time.
Len Britton was the brother of College Boy Charlie Law.
Manchester's Monty Britton trained at Grant Foderingham's gymnasium in Longsight, Manchester, alongside Eddie Rose, Pete Lindberg and Ezra Francis. He was a popular worker on the independent circuit, particularly in the north of England, during the the 1960s until his retirement in the late 1970s. A frequent and popular wrestler in North West rings in the '60s and '70s, Manchester-based Monty Britton could wrestle or mix it depending upon his opponent's approach to a bout. He was recommended to Danny Flynn originally by Terry McDonald, the Salford heavyweight. Danny and his partner, Fred Woolley, recognised Monty's potential and sent him along to Grant Foderingham's Black Panther Gym, then located in Longsight, Manchester. "In those days you could wrestled virtually every night of the week in and around Manchester, a mere half an hour's travel. Why take bookings for Cardiff or Glasgow for the same money?" Monty asked. He remembers and wrestled some of the legendary characters of the time:Lord Bertie Topham, the afore-mentioned Mad Mike Mahoney who was definitely unusual, to say the least, Bill Coverdale, the "early" Hans Streiger, Jack Cassidy and everybody's favourite, Chunky Hayes who had a single-decker bus in which he used to transport the ring AND provide accommodation for the wrestlers for a week's tour of the West Country. Can you just imagine what the interior of that bus was like at the end of the week?
This was the start of a long-term association and, before long, Monty was featuring on Unique Promotions shows around Manchester, paired with the likes of Steve Allan and Mad Mike Mahoney. From this foundation, Monty eventually worked for all the major independent promoters, from Scotland down to Cornwall but the bulk of his wrestling was done locally.
Monty is now retired and lives in Denton just outside Manchester and continues to support God's Own Team, Manchester City!
A frequent and popular wrestler in North West rings in the '60s and '70s, Manchester-based Monty Britton could wrestle or mix it depending upon his opponent's approach to a bout.
He was recommended to Danny Flynn originally by Terry McDonald, the Salford heavyweight. Danny and his partner, Fred Woolley, recognised Monty's potential and sent him along to Grant Foderingham's Black Panther Gym, then located in Longsight, Manchester.
"In those days you could wrestled virtually every night of the week in and around Manchester, a mere half an hour's travel. Why take bookings for Cardiff or Glasgow for the same money?" Monty asked.
He remembers and wrestled some of the legendary characters of the time:Lord Bertie Topham, the afore-mentioned Mad Mike Mahoney who was definitely unusual, to say the least, Bill Coverdale, the "early" Hans Streiger, Jack Cassidy and everybody's favourite, Chunky Hayes who had a single-decker bus in which he used to transport the ring AND provide accommodation for the wrestlers for a week's tour of the West Country. Can you just imagine what the interior of that bus was like at the end of the week?