A hard and skilful wrestler (because he was from Riley's gym) but one of the lesser known men from Wigan. A railway man by day Jack was quite late in life when he took up wrestling, turning professional when he was around 30 years old. He wrestled professionally from the early 1950s until 1968. He had a reputation for being a very difficult opponent as it seemed to Jack that fans should get what they thought they saw. In other words, when it looked like it was hurting, it was!
One of the great technical wrestlers to pay fleeting visits to the UK from his home country of France. Rene Ben Chemoul was introduced to wrestling by his father Albert, who was a wrestler also.
A prisoner of war during the Second World War he pursued an interest in wrestling following liberation and turned professional in 1947. Rene Ben Chemoul made the first of many visits to Britain just four years later. Twice holder of the World lightweight title (winning and losing it again to George Kidd in 1950, and later in the decade taking it from Fransico Ramirez), Rene later increased his poundage to twice hold the European middleweight championship, again losing the title to Kidd in 1963.
In 1959 he toured the United States along with fellow Frenchman Gilbert Le Duc, one of the few lighter men to gain American acclaim. Rene Ben Chemoul passed away in September 2010, aged 85.
The wild barefooted Peruvian mid heavyweight ruffled a few fans on his way to the occasional victory or more likely disqualification during his six week 1974 visit from mid November. Well, Kent Walton told us he didn't understand English or British rules.
Not overly impressive during his tour his most memorable moment was most likely a Royal Albert Hall loss against Steve Veidor. Made a couple of television appearances, losing to Pete Roberts by a disqualification and kayoed by Mike Marino.
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One time World Junior Heavyweight champion the Los Angeles heavyweight strutted his way around the rings when he visited the United Kingdom in 1954. Opponents included Tony Mancelli, Ernest Baldwin, Black Butcher Johnson and Jack Pye. Already an experienced forty something, or more specifically 45 year old Ted was a genuinely international star who was a top liner in both the United States and Australia. Following his retirement he went on to minor roles in films and television. Ted Christy passed away on 11th September, 1976.
The photograph is taken from Adnam Liyoub's highly regarded book, "100 Years of Australian Professional Wrestling."
My brother Jimmy who used to come to St James Hall with myself, he must have been around 6 or 7 years of age when I first took him, he was fascinated by me being able to approach the wrestlers to get autographs, as we stood outside St James before the matches started. Well one night supposedly he went to the toilet, but after being away a little too long I went looking for him, into main hall way, and there was Ken Robb (Local Wrestler - Don’t Know If Any Relation To Frank Robb) Ken used to be a Steward at the wrestling. He Was Bringing My Little Brother Jimmy down stairs from the dressing rooms, apparently he wandered up there with his programme and had got the Full Card Of Wrestlers Autographs!
My dad would have killed me for letting him out of my sight.....
Sheffield heavyweight Max Churchill worked for the independent promoters in the 1960s. Max was also known as a comedian and singer on the cabaret circuit around the working men's clubs of northern England.
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The fans loved “The Cover Man” as he posed to listen to their cheers before tackling the latest bad guy. Spencer Churchill, the Kew light heavyweight, turned to wrestling following success as diver and a body builder, and won the title “Britain’s Best Developed Man” in 1954.
To say that he was a body builder is something of an understatement as Churchill was one of the most popular and well known body builders in the country, known as “Mr Muscles Unlimited.”
He learned to wrestle at Tottenham Court Rangers Amateur Wrestling Club, and then turned professional aged twenty, losing to drop kick expert Johnny Peters at the Royal Pier Pavilion, Southampton.
Although never a top of the bill performer Spencer Churchill remained a popular and well respected wrestler for two decades.
Bodybuilders Roger Green, Reg Trood and Bob Sweeney all testified to the immense influence of Spencer Churchill in their decision to take up wrestlers.
What a character!
Five foot two, bleached blond hair, strong an an ox, Johnny was a bin man for Stockport Corporation, a job that kept him as fit as the legendary butcher's dog. And he was deaf and dumb. No matter, he could make his point quite lucidly and never let his condition handicap him.
Eddie Rose told us he wrestled Johnny on several occasions and it was a no-win situation as he outweighed Johnny by a good three stone and audiences always sided with such an under dog. He fought most lightweights (and heavier) including Wally Delmar, Shem Singh, Jim Reid and Joe Bevan and his bouts with Tiger Delmonte were classics of their type!
Johnny was a big friend of Mike Landis, the Greek promoter and three-way conversations between those two and a third party often ran into the realms of fantasy as Mike's English was poor and his accent heavy. Mike always introduced Johnny, quite deadpan, as "my interpreter".
Johnny was one of the old school: a tough little man with a big heart and no small amount of skill and another product of the Black Panther gym in Manchester.