British wrestling history 

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J: James - Jonathan

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Eddie James

Popular northerner (billed from either Rotherham or Newcastle) Eddie James began his professional wrestling life in the independent rings around 1960 facing the likes of Alan Sergeant, Pedro the Gypsy and Brian Maxine. In 1965 he transferred to Joint Promotions, although our records show him working only for Relwyskow and Green Promotions. He made it to the back cover of The Wrestler magazine (alongside tag partner Ron Davis) in January 1967.

Jimmy James

See the entry for Jon Cortez

Jimmy James (Manchester)

Jimmy James was a wrestler working for independent promoters in the north of England in the late 1950s. Opponents included Johnny Mack, Red Callaghan, Monty Swann and Tommy Bailey. His career was cut short when he was killed in a car crash at Shotton. A memorial show in his honour was held at Ellesmere Port in 1962.

Mick James (Mike Jackson)

In the latter half of the 1960s Mike James (who also wrestled as Mick Jackson) seemed to be just about everywhere, well in the North and Scotland he seemed everywhere at least. A popular welterweight ho was a regular worker on Morrell and Beresford bills and seemed to have a very bright future. Hardly surprising as the young Leeds based wrestler was trained by erstwhile British champions Eric Taylor and Ernie Baldwin at Jack Lanes Wrestling Club in Leeds . His professional debut followed four years in the amateur ranks. Fast and  skilled we thought he was really going places, but lost sight of him in the early 1970s.

Dave Jantzen

See the entry for Dave Phillips

Carl Jason (Carl McGrath)

Carl Jason (the family name is McGrath)  is a Merseyside wrestler who trained at Crosby Amateur Wrestling Club before turning professional in 1972. His career endured into the 1990s, though his involvement in training youngsters endured much longer and only a few years ago we heard he was still teaching wrestling on his summertime return visits to Britain from his home in Spain.  

Alf Jenkins (Jimmy Johnson)

One of the pre war wrestlers of the All-In style Alf Jenkins began appearing on northern bills in 1938. Alf was the first professional opponent of Wigan maestro Jack Dempsey in Belfast on 19th July, 1946. In the months and years following the war  Jenkins became a regular feature on bills in the North and Midlands, wrestling the likes of Tommy Nelson and Tommy Demon. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he could be seen regularly at “The Bloodtub,” formally known as the Ardwick Stadium, Manchester. We also have record of Alf using the name Jimmy ,Johnson in the 1950s, always in Ramsgate and Margate. He was  certainly a man who knew what he was doing, with wins over Mel Riss and Carlton Smith, and draws against George Kidd and Bob Archer O'Brien.

Taffy Jenkins

Leicester's John Taffy Jenkins was one of the youngest wrestlers in the country when he began wrestling professionally in 1962. That first bout was against his friend Mick Collins, and both youngsters had been trained by Jack Taylor, wrestler and owner of International Promotions. He was just 14 years old at the time, and Jack Taylor put on a schoolboy match between John and Mick Collins in the cavernous Granby Halls, Leicester.  John and Mick didn't receive any pay for that match but he recalled to us that  they both benefited from the coins thrown into the ring by appreciative fans.

In the two years that followed Taffy and Mick travelled the country with Jack Taylor learning the trade and putting on their bout as much as five or six times a week. That was after they'd put up the ring for Jack! 

As he grew in size and experience Jack put Taffy on with more experienced wrestlers, including Eddie Capelli, Ken Joyce,Cyril Knowles, Eric Sands,Reg Ray, Spike O'Reiily,Brian Maxine,Johnny Saint, and many,many more.


In his late teens Taffy  attracted the attention of Joint Promotions through an introduction by  Pete and John Lapaque. During his  time with Joint Promotions Taffy  wrestled all over the country and came up against all the top men at the time including Jackie Pallo (6 times), Pete Roberts, Rollerball Rocco,John Naylor, Marty Jones, Alan Sergeant, Catweazle, Johnny Czeslaw,Tally ho Kaye, Bert Royal, Vic Faulkner, Alan Dennison,Alan Kilby,John Kowalski and many, many more.

Never losing his love for wrestling John did become disillusioned that the promoters' respect for him as a worker did not lead to top of the bill status and took a sabbatical from wrestling during which he  joined the Leicestershire Constabulary whilst having a young wife and a new baby.  He stayed in the job for four years and  returned to the ring working for Brian Dixon.

Taffy drifted out of wrestling in the mid 1990s, but that wasn't the end of the story. He returned to the ring in 2005, and had his final match three years later, at sixty years of age!

Taffy still lives in Leicester and keeps in occasional contact with  Pete Lapaque, Ron Marino  and Robbie Brookside. With great memories of the business he still loves we suspect Taffy Jenkins  dreams of the day he will receive another phone call from Brian Dixon!

Elvis Jerome

See the entry for Dave Cameron


Now here's a man who deserves the name Pioneer. At the time of wrestling's 1930 revival Johanfesson had already been around for the best part of two decades, another name familiar in the music halls. The credentials of Johanfesson go back to the early years of the twentieth century, and yet when the sport revived in 1930 here he was once again one of the big players, and was to remain so throughout the first half of the decade, before going on to promote wrestling tournaments. 

Our earliest record of Johanfesson goes back to 1915 when he wrestled the great George DeRelwyskow, Olympic champion, in two styles – Glima and Catch-as-Catch-Can. Promoters claimed Icelandic credentials, but the man behind the persona, Joseph Shepherd, came from Chesterfield. Johanfesson's Icelandic credentials may have been dubious but the name wasn't an invention without some authenticity, a man called Jóhannes Jósefsson having been an actual glima champion. A skillful yet very rough wrestler Johanfesson was realistically touted as World Champion at both Middleweight and Light heavyweight, though these claims were disputed by Billy Riley and Henry Irslinger respectively. Irslinger and Johanfesson met at Nottingham on 26th October, 1931 with Irslinger described as World Champion and Johanfesson as Catch-as-Catch-Can champion. Irslinger took the decision by two falls to one, with the differing descriptions enabling both men to continue with their title claims. Johanfesson was to continue with his Light Heavyweight Championship billing until he lost the title to Flying Pat Howard in Nottingham at 1934.

Promoters were not shy in extolling the virtues of their nominated champion, demonstrated in the accompanying publicity for his match with The Masked Marvel. Despite the ambitious claims Johnanfesson was no match for British heavyweight title claimant Douglas Clark, admittedly a much heavier opponent. Our first recorded championship contest between the two was in June, 1931, with Huddersfield's Clark having a home town advantage, As soon as the gong sounded, the much heavier Clark grabbed Johanfesson and forced him on to the mat, scoring the first fall in just 25 seconds. Unfortunately Johanfesson was injured by Clark's power and showed signs of being in great pain. He was attended to by his seconds, and after a considerable time elected to continue. One of his arms appeared to be quite useless, and Clark had little difficulty taking the second fall less than a minute later. Johanfesson was taken to hospital and diagnosed with torn shoulder ligaments. Clark repeated the destruction of Johanfesson two years later.

These defeats by a more powerful and heavier opponent were the exception rather than the rule; it was only Johanfesson's advancing years that prevented him climbing higher in our Countdown of 1930s wrestlers.

Johanfesson, who married  Deborah Quick in 1914 in Lancester, Durham, was the father of 1930s Jack Quesick. 

Black Butcher Johnson (Arthur Johnson, Darkie Johnson) 

Read our extended tribute in Personality Parade: Wrestling's Eternal Wild Man

Bully Johnson

See the entry for Johnny kwango

Jimmy Johnson

See the entry for Alf Jenkins

Norman Johnson

See the entry for Golden Hawk

Ron Johnson

A first rate heavyweight from Hartlepool who worked on bills throughout the north from 1946 until 1961.  Ron was small as a youngster until he joined the Horden health and Strength Club. This built him up to a well proportioned, muscular teenager. He took up amateur boxing and was the middleweight champion of his station whilst serving as a P.T. instructor in the R.A.F.  On leaving the army he took up wrestling and turned professional shortly after the war. For well over a decade Ron wrestled mostly in northern England and Scotland against first rate opponents that included the likes of Billy Joyce, Francis St Clair Gregory, Eric Taylor and Billy Howes. Following his retirement he went on to become a referee in Joint Promotion rings.

Strangler Johnson

George Johnson of Sheffield was a very rough wrestler who took up the sport soon after it was introduced to Britain. Strangler Johnson and Carl Romsky had wrestled each other many times before, buy tragedy occurred on 3rd March, 1933.  when Strangler died  at Sheffield Railway station following their match.  Police officers who were present at the match described it as savage and brutal. At the inquest the jury returned a verdict of death from heart failure.  The inquest, recording a verdict of death by heart failure, added that wrestling ought to be barred, with the Coroner adding that all-in wrestling seemed to be an unlawful sport, and when a combatant died as a result his opponent was liable to a charge of manslaughter. Questions about the death of Strangler Johnson and the need to regulate wrestling,  were raised in Parliament.

Kid Tarzan Jonathan

See the entry for Adrian Street