Gypsy Fernando Herdia
Spanish heavyweight worked in northern England during the winter of 1956-7, with opponents including Francis St Clair Gregory, Jim Hussey and Tony Mancelli.
French heavyweight Robert Herland is best remembered for his clash with Bert Assirati in 1957 at the Brighton Sports Stadium when he failed to grasp Assirati's European Heavyweight Championship. An 18 stone powerhouse standing over six feet tall he had a number of memorable clashes with Assirati during his 1951 tour, usually going down to the Islington Hercules; also squaring up to Alan Garfield, Charlie Scott and Rex Gable. Herland was an accomplished amateur wrestler, having represented his country in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, finishing 5th (of 11) in the Freestyle heavyweight competition. Robert turned professional in 1946.
At the time of writing (2013) we understand he still lives in France, aged 102.
Welterweight Pete Herman was another of the Barnsley lads, and so unsurprisingly he met Red Devil Charlie Glover as soon as he became interested in boxing. Charlie, father of Leon Arras and a good wrestler himself, ran a boxing and wrestling gymnasium, The Junction. At the time Pete got involved the gym was in Quarry Street and had not yet moved to The Junction Gym behind the public house of that name. Boxing was Pete's first love, but at Charlie's gym the lads would mix together and it wasn't unusual for each to have a go at the other sport. When Pete had a go at the wrestling he found he liked it. He liked it a lot and gradually he found himself learning more alongside Dwight J Inglesburgh, Karl Von Kramer and the rest of the Barnsley lads. They all moved to The Junction Gym in 1956 and a year or so later Pete turned professional. Pete and his friend Sam Betts (Dwight J Ingleburgh) joined the Merchant Navy, based in Goole shovelling coal into the boilers. It was gruelling work but kept Pete in good condition to pursue his wrestling interests. Pete engaged in great matches with Stoker Brooks, Pedro the Gypsy and Butcher Goodman in those early days, working for the independent promoters. In 1965 Pete joined Joint Promotions, though he was quick to tell us that he much preferred his time on the opposition circuit. One of his first opponents in Joint Promotion rings was Peter Preston, and it was a bit of a shock for Pete as he went down by two straight falls. There were to be many other matches with Peter Preston, fortunately with more favourable results, and Pete looks back on them as some of his favourites. Others he enjoyed working with were Vic Faulkner, Linde Caulder and Pedro the Gypsy. Maybe not one of the first names that comes to mind when we remember the old days, but Pete is a typical example of one of those unsung heroes who made the wrestling business great.
Vic Hessle (Lew Faulkner)
Vic Hessle was born in Bolton and educated at the Saint Peter and Paul's Roman Catholic School, but this didn't stop 1930s wrestling promoters billing Vic Hessle as "The Austrian Tornado" and light heavyweight champion of Austria. Well, we guess Vienna does have a slightly more exotic ring than Bolton.
Vic was born Lewis Faulkner in 1913, which left him well placed to capitalise on the 1930s wrestling boom. An energetic, fast moving and skilful wrestler he established himself as one of the country's favourites soon after his 1935 debut. Opponents included all of the lighter heavyweights, Izzy Van Dutz, Jack Pye, Jack Atherton, Billy Riley and the like. Big names, though Vic rarely seems to have travelled south.
Presumably work and family commitments prevented Vic travelling too far; he had married Vivienne Armstrong and the couple were parents of Herbert Faulkner (born 5th December 1931) and Victor (born 14th July 1944). These two, of course, went on to become the ever popular Royal brothers, Bert Royal and Vic Faulkner.
Vic Hessle remained a popular wrestler throughout the 1930s, served as a paratrooper in the Second World War. Following the second world war many wrestlers went into retirement because they were too old to adapt their style to the Mountevans rules, or because they were simply too old. Neither the war nor the change of style were sufficient to stop Vic Hessle going on to become one of the most successful and respected wrestlers of the post war era. Visiting post war American Pat Curry claimed that Vic troubled him more than Bert Assirati.
Having turned professional in the days of Pojello, Oakeley and Sherry, he Vic finally hung up his boots in 1963, serving as landlord of the Bull's Head in the Breightmet area of Bolton for seventeen years. He left a legacy in the form of his two sons, Bert Royal and Vic Faulkner, with the latter adopting the family name abandoned by the young Lew Faulkner many years before.
See Keith Hayward
See Kurt Stein (St Helens)
Born in Bradford Joe Hill was a central part of the British wrestling scene for four decades, initially as a middleweight wrestler and latterly as one of the country's top referees. Following an amateur career that he shared with his friend Les Kellett. Joe turned professional in the 1940s. Whilst his billing as Northern Area Middleweight Champion may not be overly impressive, his narrow loss in Paris to Gilbert LeDuc in a long bout for the latter's world title was more so. Floowing active wartime service in the RAF Hill returned to the ring, and encouraged his friend Les Kellett to join him. In the 1950s Joe began to cut down his wrestling commitments and gradually moved into a refereeing role. He is the only referee we can think of that was supported by a fan club. the Kelvin Fan Club.
Ron Hinchcliffe, born Ron Priestly, was one of the many wrestlers graduating from Charlie Glover's Barnsley gymnasium, learning to wrestle alongside Dwight J Ingleburgh, Blackburn Roberts , Leon Arras and Pedro the Gypsy. In the 1960s he was known as a clever and fast welterweight on the northern independent circuit, famed for a rather nifty swinging back breaker.
Dave "The Ratcatcher" Hines made his professional debut in 1968. The twenty-one year old had been learning the professional ropes for a couple of years at Bruno Elrington's Portsmouth gymnasium, alongside Bruno, John Kowalski and Tarantula Alan Turner, under the special guidance of Crusher Mason. Outside the ring Dave worked for his local council in the pest control department, hence his nickname "The Ratcatcher." A good villain who knew how to upset the fans, as much by his verbal abuse as his rule bending antics Dave Hines remained part of the British wrestling scene for over thirty years, a good run by anyone's standards. He had his final bout, against Adrian Finch in 2000.
Dave Hines passed away in May 2012.
See Rocky Moran
We remember Gray Hobman as a muscular, bearded light heavyweight who looked the part but ran up an impressive sequence of losses against run of the mill domestic opposition. He came from New Zealand, more precisely from Rotorua, the town of boiling hot mud pools and spurting geezers. He was said to be the heavyweight champion of New Zealand, having taken the title from Luke Graham in 1968. Gray toured Britain, or rather Dale Martin land, for three months during the summer of 1970.
Eric "Tubby" Hodgson
See Vince Apollo
Bradford heavyweight Jesse Hodgson was quite a force on the heavyweight scene in the first half of the 1960s. With a bushy ginger beard many fans likened him to the Manchester veteran Man Mountain Benny. Training at the Windmill Club and later the Hill Top clubs in Bradford Jess was an amateur for ten years before turning professional in his early twenties. Dave Sutherland remembers, “He used to arrive in his van which had his name emblazoned on the side and his occupation of plumber.” A light heavyweight in his early days Jess soon filled out into a full blown heavyweight. Much of his early career was dogged by cartilage injury and this may have led to his short career.