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

B: Page 15 of 18

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

 See all wrestlers in section B

George Broadfield ... Bearcat Brody ... Colonel Brody  ...  Ox Brody  ... Red Brokau ...  Bill Bromley ... Lee Bronson ... Stoker Brookes  ... Harry Brooks .... Rev Michael Brooks ... Richie Brooks  ... Robbie Brookside ... Pedro Brosatti ... Jan Brouwers ... More

Red Brokau

A busy worker around the UK between 1933 and 1945, we have only one post war record. Reports make reference to his dreaded speciality "The Crucifix Hold" though our record of his wins show little evidence of it being put to effect!

 Fritz "Red"  Brokau was said to be a German-Canadian, though we have knowledge if this is true. He continued working in Britain throughout the second world war, which would cast serious doubt on his Germanic lineage.  Following his retirement in the mid 1940s Red Brokau we have been told settled in Manchester, which seems a more realistic proposition. 

The name re-surfaced once again in the 1980s.

Bill Bromley (The Emperor, Big Bertha, Bill Freeman, Colossus)

Standing over six feet tall Bill Bromley was an imposing figure.

He began appearing on Dale Martin bills in the south during the late 1970s and was a busy worker gaining  some short term success in the 1980s. He used a variety of names: Bill Bromley, Bill Freeman Big Bertha, Masked Emperor (left) and The Colossus. He made half a dozen or so television appearances during 1981 and 1982, notably remembered for partnering Giant Haystacks against Big Daddy and Jim Moser televised from Derby in October, 1982.

Other tv opponents included Wayne Bridges and John Elijah.  As The Emperor he made a further two television appearances, in 1985, against Drew McDonald and Pat Roach. 

Highlights of his career included Royal Albert Hall appearances against John Elijah and Pat Roach.

Lee Bronson

When heavyweight Lee Bronson joined the professional ranks in the early 1970s he seemed to be everywhere. If anyone was destined for the top it was Lee.

The credentials were good. A distinguished amateur career at South London's United Club and son of old campaigner Norman the Butcher. The image was good, a fan's favourite if ever there was one, and a collection of early wins over established names.

He achieved nationwide prominence going down to Iron Man Steve Logan in his television debut in November 1975.  In subsequent tv bouts the mathmakers made it no easier for Lee, with opponents including Mike Marino, Giant Haystacks  and  Kendo Nagasaki.  With wins over Johnny Yearsley and Pat Roach, and a no contest decision against Wayne Bridges still convinced us that Lee had that star quality. 

It was something of a surprise, therefore, when Bronson was thrown to the lions, so to speak, and matched with Bill Robinson on television when the Lancashire heavyweight returned home from America.

Another of wrestlings mysteries. We fans wanted to see Robinson against an established heavyweight like Albert Wall or Gwyn Davies, not dampen the rising star. 

Lee Bronson had all the talent we craved in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but  matchmakers and time connived together to prevent the  fulfilment of that initial promise.  

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Stoker Brookes

Bearded, muscular and tattooed  Barnsley's Ronnie Brookes looked the part. He was one of Charlie Glover's lads, learning boxing and wrestling at Charlie's Junction Gym in Barnsley alongside Dwight J Ingleburgh, Pedro the Gypsy, Max Raeger and the rest of Charlie's troupe.

With a boxing background Stoker was one of those rough and tumble wrestlers who usually worked within the rules but could never be described as a clean shaven hero.  Let's just call it a robust style. Very robust. He was a reliable worker for the prominent opposition promoters of the late fifties, sixties and seventies. 

We watched him in the 1960s and (much as he planned) would never have guessed the real life personality behind this robust wrestling persona. A farm worker and miner would have been believable enough, but the precision of a signwriter and water colour artist would certainly have surprised us. In later years Ronnie put his artist skills to the benefit of the community when he tutored twice weekly at Age Concern art classes. Ronnie was also a member of the “Raggy Lads,” a social group of working class men. Stoker Brookes died in January 2008.

Harry Brooks

Huddersfield's Harry Brooks claimed the Northern England Heavyweight Belt. More impressively he was a prolific worker around the country meeting all the top man, including a tilt at Bert Assirati and the British heavyweight championship.

Harry Brooks is one of our Top Wrestlers of the 1930s.

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The Little Things We Remember 

An old, tubby Greek grappler was thrown into the corner, he leapt up with the intention of springing off the turnbuckle and hitting his much larger opponent with a flying tackle. Instead his timing was off, he leapt onto the turnbuckle but fell like a brick landing at the feet of his foe. The crowd laughed, while the other wrestler tried to take the heat off the little man by deriding his effort.

Mark Lewin, on reaching the ring for Australia's first ever cage match, seeing that the cage had to be entered by rolling on the apron, under the rolled down chicken wire, turned around and walked back to the dressing room until the wire had been rolled up so Mark could enter the ring in a more regal manner that his reputation warranted!

Roy Heffernan using a sawing motion with his forearm across a downed opponent's neck which had the whole stadium on the verge of rioting, even though you could apply the same action to the neck of a baby without leaving a mark. (No, don't try it on your grandchildren).

Joe Critchley, in a televised match, taking an 'Irish Whip' but selling it by turning head over heels, some two or three seconds AFTER he had been whipped.

John Shelvey

Rev Michael Brooks

Illusion may have been an essential part of professional wrestling, but Michael Brooks was a genuine Methodist minister.

His wrestling experience began as a twelve year old in the lake district where he wrestled Cumberland and Westmorland style in the Lakeland sports. He took up freestyle wrestling as a fourteen year old when he joined Lancaster Lads Club.   The church came later.

He had a few bouts for the independent promoters before his church work took him to South Africa. The Morecambe born middleweight combined church work with wrestling in South Africa. He claimed (and we can hardly doubt the word of a man of the cloth) to have held the Middleweight championship of Namibia for seven years.

On his return visits to Britain he combined his ministry work with wrestling, saying that the wrestling helped him make contact with people otherwise  out of the reach of a Methodist Minister. 

Wrestling Heritage member 1978 Kid has reported that Michael took early retirement from the ministry due to arthritis, and died suddenly on 7th March, 2000, aged 64.

Richie Brooks (Golden Apollon)

Bath's Richie Brooks certainly made his mark on the British wrestling scene. He may only have gained national exposure on television in 1985, but he made more than twenty further appearances over the following three years until wrestling disappeared from our screens

Had wrestling not gone into decline during the 1980s Richie could very well have been one of today's big names.

Richie was an all action wrestler combining speed, athleticism and wrestling ability;  a combination of qualities that made him one of the favourites of the 1980s and beyond.

Seen at his best defeating villains such as Peter Kaye and Black Jack Mulligan, and stylists such as Steve Grey; at his worst partnering Big Daddy where he was not given the opportunity to display his wealth of talent.
Robbie Brookside

There are only a handful of wrestlers listed in the Heritage A-Z with whom modern day fans can associate. Robbie Brookside is one of those few, because as we add him to the A-Z in 2011 he is still one of the top wrestling stars in Britain, working regularly throughout Britain and overseas.

Very few in the business persisted with wrestling during the leanest of years. Robbie did, and  emerged in the twenty first century as not just a survivor, but a top star. 
 
Sixteen year old Robbie Brookside turned professional in 1982, and became one of the most successful and popular wrestlers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. His age and agility made him an immediate success on the show of Bobby Barron and Brian Dixon, and the impact was replicated as soon as he appeared on television, both in singles bouts and as one of the Liverpool Lads Tag Team, remembered  for great matches against Kendo Nagasaki and Blondie Barratt.
 
It is a tribute to Robbie that he continued to work in the wrestling business during the dark years following the removal of wrestling from British television screens. His skill has taken him across the world, with tours of the USA, Japan, Mexico, Europe and the Middle East.  
Pedro Brosatti

1951 visitor to the UK with opponents that included Mike Marino, Black Butcher Johnson, and Vic Hessle.

Jan Brouwers

Jan Brouwers was a classy Belgium wrestler who was Heavy Middlweight Champion of his country on his first visit in the 1950s. He made later visits, going up the weight divisions in his later years, but always retaining a classical style of wrestling that was appreciated by the purist fans.