1960s independent promoters heavyweight from Cheshire went on to work for Joint Promotions in the 1970s; mostly as a serial masked man - Bula, Dr Death, Outlaw, Red Devil etc
This popular, fast and skilful lightweight from Widnes seemed equally at home as Lancashire's Maurice Hunter and his dual personality, Scot Ian McKenzie. We first came across Ian McKenzie in the halls of the independent promoters, but later saw him as Maurice Hunter on both opposition and Joint Promotion bills. An all action yet scientific wrestler we would consider him one of wrestling's great under-rated; search the web for his superb match with Bobby Ryan on television. He made it into the Who's Who of Wrestling book but elsewhere did not receive the push that he deserved.
6’4” Tasmanian tag partner of Judo Al Hayes in their Lincoln days, and a globetrotting Heavyweight Champion of the Commonwealth who lost his title to Alan Garfield. Perhaps the highlight of his British career was a 1957 Harringay All Nations Tournament victory in which he beat Andre Drapp in the final. When Hunter came to Britain in 1950 he had been the youngest Commonwealth wrestler so to do. He recovered from unsurprising initial disappointment at the hands of Assirati, and with Aussie schoolmate Paul Lincoln, earned his Rebel tag by breaking away from Joint Promotions to set up a rival promotion.
Success came in German heavyweight tournaments and the sixties saw a hedonistic jet-set lifestyle in Soho where Lincoln and he owned the famed 2 Is coffee bar, haunt of Tommy Steele and others. He was linked also with Sophia Loren.Feuded in the early sixties with Docker Don Stedman and made a successsful transition back to Dale Martin's at the end of the decade before disappearing mysteriously from the scene around 1970.
Canadian Rick Hunter was billed as American when he visited Britain in 1981, working for both Joint Promotions and Brian Dixon. He seems to have impressed those who saw him, with members requesting his inclusion in the A-Z. We are told that although given the image of the stereotypical Yank with attitude he did rather impress the fans with his wrestling skill. Rick was not a wrestling villain despite being teamed by promoters with villains Bulldog Bob Brown and Jim Harris against the noble Brits. At the time he came to Britain Hunter was already an experienced professional of over twenty years.
Tarzan Hunter ( Billy Hunter, Wild Tarzan)
Canadian Heavyweight Billy Hunter was a regular worker in Britain from the mid 1930s. We are unsure where he served during the war, but by 1947 he was back in wrestling action in Britain. He even found himself a wife in Britain, and the story goes that he wrestled on the evening of his wedding, at Bury in Lancashire, unfortunately getting injured during the course of the contest. He wrestled throughout Britain, though mostly in northern England and the midlands, facing the best of the day including Bert Assirati, Mike Marino, Vic Hessle, Billy Riley and Jack Pye. He had a number of great bouts with Count Bartelli, holding the masked man to a draw on numerous occasions. He seems to have disappeared from our rings by the mid 1950s.
See Kangaroo Kennedy
Following service in the Australian army during the second world war the rough, tough Australian heavyweight came to the UK in 1949, and was a regular visitor for the next two decades. Opponents around the world included matmen known on an international stage,including Bert Assiratti, Buddy Rogers, Mr Moto and Jim Londos. When not in the UK he wrestled throughout North America, Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe, but always returned to Britain to develop his “bad boy” image amongst the appreciative UK fans. It was said at the time that he was the most travelled wrestler in the world which seemed quite believable. Prior to wrestling professionally he was a lumberjack, which is was also quite believable, unlike his hobby of ballroom dancing.
For more than twenty years John Hurley could be found flitting around the wrestling rings of southern England. Like all good professionals at the time John knew the necessity of a good amateur foundation followed by an old pro to teach him the ways of the professional world. That old pro was Dulwich's Len Britton, brother of College boy Charlie Law. On the nights that Len wasn't teaching the youngster the moves John could be found observing his master, and other professionals, in action at close quarters as one of the wrestling seconds. John had well and truly caught the wrestling bug by the time he turned professional in the mid 1960s, taking those first nervous steps into the paid ring at Acton Town Hall. In the evenings he would wrestle in the halls for the independent promoters and during the day take on all comers in the fairground wrestling booths. There was good money to be had in the booths, but the hours were long, the conditions lousy, and there was always the prospect of having to deal with the local lads who thought they could show the pro a thing or two. They were wrong. In 1974 John came to the attention of Dale Martin Promotions and was signed up to work for the Joint Promotion organisation. John worked for Joints for around ten years, making a couple of wrestling trips to Germany. In the early 1980s he began to cut back on his wrestling commitments and returned to the opposition promoters, finally hanging up his boots in 1986. In the 1980s John went into pub management, taking over the oldest public house in Maidstone, the Royal Albion.
Born in Jamaica Hurst came to Britain as a teenager and joined the YMCA to pursue his interest in weightlifting. It was here that he became interested in wrestling and joined the United Amateur Wrestling Club to develop his amateur wrestling skiill. When he consisered himself ready Len chose to follow a papid career and was subsequently taken on as a professional by Dale Martin Promotions. Having made his debut in the winter of 1965, aged twenty-one, it didn't take long for Len Hurst to achieve national popularity through his regular television appearances. Making his tv debut in 1967 he was an immediate success and featured regularly over the next fifteen years. His combination of technical ability, speed and agility made him a popular regular on bills in the 1960s and 1970s. Len Hurst is shown with a backhammer on Tony Costas, a frequent opponent.
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“The Nordic Marvel” Finnish born and French based wrestler made a one week visit in September 1952. He returned for a couple of weeks in 1963 and again in 1964 for Paul Lincoln Management.
Boy were we spoilt for choice when it came to our heavyweight villains. Few were rougher, tougher or more skilled than Jumping Jim Hussey. Jumping Jim as a consequence of his ability to land on his feet from delivering a drop kick in his younger years. By the time most readers remember him his style had matured, but was none the less exciting. It's true to say that every bout was a good un.
A teenage Hussey was schooled in the all-in style, a protege of Canadian wrestler Carl Van Wurden. Jim's parents weren't exactly keen on their son's interest in wrestling and we are told that his mother was unaware that he was making his professional debut, one night in 1942, at Belle Vue against Andre Nicola. It was the beginning of a long career, Jim Hussey was destined to remained a top television favourite for the best years of the Mountevans era. Great names such as Jack Atherton, Frank Manto and Francis St Clair Gregory were opponents during the first couple of years.
With greater experience promoters began matching him with the likes of Jack Pye, The Ghoul and Bert Assirati. We are able to report that Jim did hold the great Assirati to a draw on occasions but are unaware of any wins!
Memories of Jim are of a rowdy, hard hitting heavyweight. Such memories should not hide the reality of a skilfull wrestler who amongst the dubious tactics and disqualifications certainly had his days, with with wins over Billy Joyce, Tibor Szakacs, Josef Zaranoff, Mike Marino, Dave Armstrong and Eric Taylor in their prime.
He was a true professional, and in the second half of his career Ultra Reliable would have been a more appropriate nickname than the commonly used Jumping Jim.
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