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C: Chapman - Chausson

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Dave Chapman

Welterweight Dave Chapman hailed from Kettering in Northamptonshire and like many others began his career in the usually smaller halls of the independent promoters. This was in the mid 1960s following a relatively short amateur career. Early opponents included Mick Collins, Jack Taylor and Adolf Dabrowski. With a couple of years experience he was signed up by Joint Promotions. Highlights of his short career included wins over Iron Jawed Joe Murphy and knocking out Brian Goldbelt Maxine. A frequent opponent, and sometime tag partner, was the Corby wrestler Tony Rowley. Dave's career seemed to end abruptly in the early 1970s and we would like to know what became of him.

Ray Charles

We know precious little about welterweight Ray Charles, other than he seemed to be on lots of independent shows in the 1960s and he was on the first live wrestling show we attended. Billed from Wales we understand he lived in Salford and was said to be a keen rugby player.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Ric Charles

Ric Charles was a popular light heavyweight from Great Yarmouth who worked for the independent promoters, often Cyril Knowles and Jack Taylor in the 1960s and 1970, mostly in the midlands and the north of England. Our memories of him are of the white trunked slayer of villains such as The Wildman of Borneo, Klondyke Bill.  His wrestling career was shared with that of managing and off licence.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Michael Charles (Mick La Roache, The Undertaker)

The popular son of  Ric Charles worked for the independent promoters in the 1970s.

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Tony Charles

The Rhondda Valley town of Treorchy was famed for miners and singing, but not wrestling. Tony Charles did his best to change that, and as one of the top television stars of the sixties and seventies didn’t do a bad job.

Not a bad job! Well that's an understatement, and if you doubt us take a look at the You Tube footage of Tony matching the talent of the great Billy Robinson.

Having become the Welsh amateur welterweight champion and having represented Wales in the 1958 Empire Games Tony turned professional shortly afterwards. His technical prowess was evident from the beginning, and promoters acknowledged Tony's skill from the outset, matching him against the new stars of television Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Jack Dempsey, and Cliff Beaumont

Starting out as a welterweight he moved through the weights up to mid heavyweight and challenged, albeit unsuccessfully, for a British title all the way, against Jack Dempsey (welterweight), Tommy Mann (middleweight) Billy Joyce (light heavyweight) and Mike Marino (mid heavyweight). We witnessed him the night he faced Billy Joyce for the Light Heavyweight championship in Blackburn. A great night for Lancastrians but a sad night for wrestling, as Tony would have been an active champion who would have taken the light heavyweight championship into a limelight that failed to materialise with Joyce.

Here was a wrestler who simply oozed class. "Beautiful wrestling," mused John Shelvey, at the mere thought of a contest between Tony and middleweight champion Clayton Thomson.

Another fan of the aptly named Welsh Wizard was another wizard of the valleys, Adrian Street. Exotic Adrian told us:

"One of my proudest moments as a pro wrestler was the time I was on the same card as a British middleweight Championship match, held at the Colston Hall, Bristol between Champion Tommy Mann and Tony Charles. Every second of the match was fought to a 15 round draw. I am aware of the old saying - 'Nostalgia is a seductive liar'. - nevertheless I will always maintain that if that was not the best wrestling match I ever saw in my life, it was pretty damn close."

It was Manchester's Tommy Mann in the opposite corner when Tony had made his debut at the Royal Albert Hall less than two years after his professional debut, this time losing by a knock out to the experienced British champion.

In April 1960 Tony's skill was introduced to a wider audience when he made his television debut against Monty Swann.

It was to be the first of more than seventy televised appearances, that's more than Kendo Nagasaki, Giant Haystacks, Masambula, Albert Wall,  Dave Finlay, Billy Robinson and a host of other household names.

In January, 1961 Tony won a knock out tournament at High Wycombe, defeating Pasquale Salvo and Mick McManus on the way to the final in which he defeated British champion Jack Dempsey. The boy must have gone to sleep with a satisfied smile on his face that night.

Tony's speciality moves, a spinning toe hold and a drop kick gained him a place at the very top of British wrestling. As he matured and gained more poundage Tony was more likely to find himself facing heavyweights of the highest calibre such as Tibor Szakacs, Geoff Portz, Mike Marino and Billy Joyce. One of the greatest matches we witnessed was that night Tony lost to  Wigan's Billy Joyce Can you think of any other wrestler who challenged for the British title from welterweight to mid heavyweight?

Fifteen years after making his debut Tony crossed the Atlantic, along with British wrestlers Les Thornton, Geoff Portz, Bill Robinson, and others, where he continued to make an impression as one of the top Junior Heavyweights. He was a huge loss to the British wrestling scene, overnight our sport lost  a touch more of it's credibility at a time when audiences were already on the decline.

Tony eventually settled in the USA where he continued wrestling, and is well remembered for cracking bouts with Les Thornton and Billy Robinson, and much of the local top talent. He clinched a trio of tag team titles and the North American Junior Heavyweight Championship.

In Florida Tony and Adrian were near neighbours (by American standards anyway), "Tony lived about 20 miles from me in Gulf Breeze, Florida - less than 10 if I was a strong swimmer." Adrian and his wife Linda kept in regular contact with Tony, enjoying good times together and remaining friends during the sad years in which Tony's health declined due to dementia.

Tony Charles died on 13th February, 2015.

Ted Charlton

The Australian (welterweight champion we were told) came to Britain as part of an extended world tour that included New Zealand, South Africa and mainland Europe.

He worked in Dale Martin rings during the summer of 1970 and into the winter months, leaving Britain in January 1971.

Made little impact against the established British names of Boscik, Maxine, Cooper and the like.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Those Promoters, And The Things They Got Up To 

A show I promoted in the seventies at The Civic Hall, Nantwich taught me a great deal as I had hired a couple of girls from Leicestershire promoter Jack Taylor and they never turned up. Unfortunately, although I wasn't paying them very much (Jack wouldn't allow me to as he thought it might lead to them wanting more money from him), I had placed them top of the bill as it was to have been the first ever girls' wrestling bout at Nantwich.

I aplogised that the girls had not arrived and held up an envelope supposedly containing their purse money and invited all the wrestlers who had taken part in the evening to fight it out for an eight man over the top rope battle royal which was the first time that a battle royal had been staged in Nantwich.

Graham Brook

Jesus Chausson

Dentist turned  wrestler Jesus Chausson was born in Bilbao with French and Spanish parentage.

A  European mid heavyweight champion claimant  he was one of the top Spanish wrestlers of the 1950s and 1960s. Jesus Chausson visited Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s, facing top class opposition such as Alan Garfield and Joe Cornelius with a Royal Albert Hall match against Billy Howes

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Those Promoters, More Things They Got Up To  

I also promoted Steve Kennedy versus Johnny Vicious which surprised both wrestlers when they arrived for their evening's work. Steve Kennedy was then wrestling as Johnny Palin and later to become Dave Duran. Johnny Vicious was Rick Wiseman or Ace Ricardo and I made him into a villainous punk entering the ring wearing a necklace of safety pins. I recall that the bout was to end with Kennedy whipping Vicious out of the ring for the ten count and Rick was thinking up all sorts of ways to make sure he stayed out for ten such as arguing with someone in the crowd, trying to get up then falling over again or standing on a dodgy corner stool to help him up then slipping off it. He need not have worried. A loan girl dressed in full punk regalia (and nothing to do with me - a genuine punter!) sat silently right in the front row totally bored by the proceedings. However, when the Kennedy/Vicious bout came on, she became totally engrossed and participative. So much so that she provided our ending for us. As Vicious was whipped out of the ring and fell to the floor, she threw herself on top of him declaring her love and kissing him as referee "Big Boy" Miller made the ten count.

Graham Brook