When compared to big brother Seamus it seemed that middleweight Mike Donlevy was made up of the calmer set of Donlevy genes. He was certainly the more popular of the two with female fans.. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Mike left his hometown of Charletstown to set up home in Liverpool, then Birmingham, and into the professional wrestling ring a couple of years after Seamus. They made a formidable tag team in opposition to the White Eagles, Black Diamonds and Cadman brothers. Highlights of his career included a bout with Jack Dempsey on television and clashing with Mick McManus at the Royal Albert Hall. Sometimes overshadowed by the exploits of his tough guy big brother Mike did claim one record of distinction, a four second fall over Ken Cadman. Mike has now returned to Ireland and continues to live in his birth place of Charlestown, County Mayo.
Another fighting Irishman, and the one who played the saxophone in the spare time. Born in 1934, in Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland, the rugged Seamus Donlevy was to become one of the promising Irish heavyweights of the 1960, though he remained overshadowed by the successes of Pat Barrett and Sean Regan.
At 17 years old he moved from County Mayo to Liverpool as a carpenter. After training at Riley’s gym Seamus, by that time living in Birmingham, turned professional. He was a regular worker in Joint Promotion rings, working throughout the country from his home in Birmingham Seamus' rugged features alerted fans straight away that they were about to witness a ring villain, and they were rarely disappointed.
His intriguing life story, which includes an attempt on his life when bullets were fired into his car, and management of various midland night clubs, can be read in his auto biography, "Finally Meeting Princess Maud."
Baron Donovan came on to the British wrestling scene at around the time we were losing interest and so we happily succumb to our members to fill in the gaps. Knowledgeable members NagasakisNumberOneFan and Graham Brooks. Donovan emerged onto the scene in 1974, often going down to Big Daddy, including his only tv appearance, partnering Giant Haystacks in their loss to Big Daddy and Tony St Clair. Billed from the USA, this was another part of wrestling kidology.
He was really from Southport where, if Graham remembers correctly, he worked as a chiropractor. Max Crabtree billed him as Baron Donovan and Graham recalls a particularly good tag bout at Belle Vue where he was teamed up with Lee Sharron against The Barons (Ian Gilmour and Jeff Kaye). We are told he was Bill Bennett (Martin Conroy of Wryton Promotions added an "e" and billed him as Bill Bennette from Canada. Graham refereed him once at Tower Beach Holiday Camp, Prestatyn, for Bobby Barron where, unusually for him, he played the blue eye against heel Ragnor the Viking.
Carver Doone was the stuff of legends.
Irrespective of any wrestling skill he may or may not have possessed few names are as evocative as this seven feet tall giant from the West Country.
Promoter Atholl Oakeley's lifelong interest the romantic novel, "Lorna Doone" lies behind the re-creation of a twenty stone Devonian, Jack Baltus, as the fictional Frankenstein of Devon. Doone was said to stand seven feet tall (we'd settle on 6'9"), certainly a tall man, but not the monster, he was well proportioned.
Oakeley introduced his new giant to the unsuspecting public in 1931, and he was to remain a permanent fixture on the British wrestling scene for a decade. Promoted as an invincible warrior the results we have seen suggest something otherwise.
In “Blue Blood On the Mat” Oakeley writes that he took one look at Jack Baltus and immediately named him after Blackmore's creation, Lorna Doone.
Irrespective of wrestling ability, or lack of it, Doone was a headline act for Oakeley during the 1930s, heavyweight champion of Somerset and Devon no less!
Most of those fans that still remember Joe think of the dapper referee who kept control of thousands of contests in the 1960s and 1970s. Before that Joe was a very popular wrestler who followed his cousin, Mike Marino, into the wrestling business.
With Italian parents Joe’s family name was Giusseppe Augusto Antonio Loreto Mario Scala. We can see why he shortened it! D'Orazio was his wife's maiden name. He was born in Bermondsey on 27th July, 1922 and turned professional fairly late in life as a result of a diversion called World War 2. Joe’s professional debut, in 1948 at Poole was against the visiting New Zealander, Russ Bishop. Jackie Pallo, Steve Logan, Vic Coleman, Johnny Peters and most other big names opposed Joe in his thirteen year career which reached an end in 1968 with a serious back injury.
Next came Joe's fondly remembered career as a referee, a stalwart amongst Dale Martin Promotions, and a regular referee at the Royal Albert Hall and across Europe. Behind the scenes Joe penned much of the Dale Martin promotional material under the name of Bob Scala, and co-authored “The Who’s Who of Wrestling,” a book of pen portraits of many big names, but mysteriously omitting some of the names that fans of the time expected.
Apart from wrestling and writing Joe's other loves are oil painting, reading and poetry. Two sportsmen admired by Joe are Yukio Tani, the Japanese judo expert who toured the music halls for many years, and the Olympic athlete Jesse Owens.
Memories of Barry Douglas are overwhelmingly of a hairy wrestler. That is unfair; Barry Douglas was a talented, aggressive all action wrestler.
With a very hairy back.
He came from famous wrestling stock, being the son of referee Douglas Relwyskow, grandson of Olympic gold medal winner George de Relwyskow Snr and nephew of wrestling promoter George de Relwyskow Jnr.
With those credentials you would have thought that young Barry might have been given a helping hand up the wrestling ladder, but that was not the case. No one could accuse the Relwyskow’s of giving Barry preferential treatment.
Barry used his considerable skill to remain a professional for more than five decades. He was an aggressive, all action fighter, relying on strength and submission holds, the Boston Crab being his speciality.
For the most part he stayed within the rules and was popular with fans. On occasions he would wrestle as masked men Battlestar and Bull Blitzer. The name John Londous was used in Japan.
Read our extended tribute; A Promoter's Dream
Lightweight French based Israeli wrestler with a background in judo made a short visit to the UK in 1965 where he lost by the odd fall to George Kidd at the Royal Albert Hall.
Your Local Paper and the Wrestling
Years ago in the sixties and seventies long before the web we had the Manchester Evening News delivered. This was the font of all knowledge for me as far as where to go to see wrestling. Every week there was Kings Hall Belle Vue and then we had all the add ons. Wryton Stadium Bolton sometimes, Parr Hall Warrington sometimes, Holdsworth Hall Deansgate (ind) Forum Wythenshawe (ind) Lancastrain Hall Swinton (Ind). Even The Floral Hall Southport and The Pavillion Gardens Buxton. and I suppose I have missed a few.
The point I am making is that if you drill down a little more locally some of the small local town journals probably would have had adverts every week. Most of these papers are in the Library. These days might be in the Central Borough Library on Microfilm or even digitised.
As a genealogist who has spent hundreds of hours in Manchester Central Library long before the internet I know all those paper bills could be recaptured. The Manchester Evening news is in there. Via this method people could make a contribution to an index such as Ray Plunketts.
But even so if you fancy just for your own enjoyment, you might live in Rhyl or Warrington, or wherever, there is lots out there to find.
It is a chance to be an expert in your own local halls history.
Doulas the Turk was a name forever popping up on wrestling bills in the 1930s, and continuing until 1956. Johnny Doulas was a Turkish Cypriot started wrestling in the early 1930s, mainly in the south but not infrequently venturing into northern England.
Unusually he seemed to remain very active during the war and following the end of hostilities worked almost entirely in the north until his retirement.
Doulas the Turk wrestled most of the big names during his twenty year career, ranging through the weights from Harold Angus to Bulldog Bill Garnon.
His work rate suggests fans were pleased to see him on their shows, but where we have a record of results they are none too impressive.
Dundee's Mid heavyweight Tom Dowie was known as a reliable worker in Scotland during the 1960s. Reliable, that is, in the sense that fans knew they would be treated to a good, solid bout of wrestling.
Tom was a sports fanatic from an early age and once represented Scotland in an international wrestling tournament. He also enjoyed sailing, and that's his boat Valhalla in the photo on the right.
Tom turned professional in 1961. He worked regularly at Scottish venues, and only rarely ventured south of the border. That's why it came as something of a surprise when Ted Beresford gave him his first televised outing in 1964, from Halifax in Yorkshire. It's an even bigger surprise that his dozen or so subsequent television appearances were all from south of the border!
Manchester welterweight Terry Downs turned professional in the early 1960s and seemed one of the welterweight divisions hot prospects for a time. The young Downs , unable to use his real name because there was already a wrestler called Jim Hart, turned to wrestling after working in an abattoir, so no one could accuse him of lacking the killer instinct.
Trained as an amateur at the Manchester YMCA with the professional touches added at the Wryton Stadium under the guidance of Francis St Clair Gregory and other Wryton pros. A textbook wrestler, not one to smudge, let alone, bend the rules. Involved in a series of encounters with Colin Joynson and Al Brown, the type of lower card contest that delighted the fans.
Terry Worked almsot entirely in the midlands, north and England and Scotland with the (seemingly obligatory) weekly tour of Dale Martin land (the deep south for non UK readers). He retired from wrestling in 1969.
Eddie Rose remembers Terry, "He looked quite like film star Paul Newman and was a favourite with wrestling fans. He had an ongoing rivalry with Colin Joynson in the mid-60s, two Manchester lads but from different ends of the city. I watched him give Jack Demspey a good run for his money one night at Bradford."
In 1950 promoter Atholl Oakeley, seeking new talent to re-vitalise his post war wrestling business encouraged The Gorgeous Gael, a charismatic Irish boxer to turn wrestler.
Nine and a half thousand fans packed Harringay Stadium, paying between 3/6 and three guineas, to witness Doyle, entering the ring resplendent in a white and green satin dressing gown, beat Estonian Martin Bucht in three rounds.
Oakeley went on to feature Doyle in more high profile matches at the Harringay Stadium against Aussie the Butcher, the giant German, Gargantua Kurt Zehe and ex boxers Eddie Philips, Two Ton Tony Galento, and Primo Carnera .
Doyle was a larger than life character who had drawn 90,000 for one of his boxing matches at White City, London, in 1933. Despite his ring presence, personality, and high profile launch as a wrestler, the magic had gone, the skill was missing and the wrestling career fizzled out around the autumn of 1953. In March, 1953, he was knocked out by Heritage friend the "Iron Man of the Lakes" Gerry Hogarth, at the Royal Albert Hall.
Doyle's ability to earn a fortune during his life was matched with an ability to spend it. When he was declared bankrupt in 1953 Doyle claimed he was still the highest paid wrestler in Britain, although his pay had dropped from the £987 he had received for his debut match in 1950, to £25 a match. Jack Doyle died penniless on 13th December, 1978.