The older of the Kaye boys followed his younger brother, Tony, into the wrestling rings of the 1970s.
Dave is remembered by fans as a hard man of the ring and by fellow wrestlers as a tough opponent who would give no quarter. Prior to wrestling Dave served in the army and was a very handy amateur boxer; showing a willingness to use these previous experiences whenever things got difficult in the ring.
Dave was trained by Yorkshire promoter Cyril Knowles, and many of his bouts were for Cyril and other independent promoters. He was so thrilled when he ws given his first pro match and actually got paid for doing something he loved that Dave kept his purse for the night, a 10/- (50p) note, and showed it to us when we met up with him.
Northern favourites in the opposite corner included Ray Robinson, Al Marshall, and Jack Dempsey, but fans mostly recall a long running feud with Jackie Pallo Jr which was played out around many northern halls.
Apart from those memorable bouts with Pallo many fans also recall Dave sauntering to the ring, cigarette in hand, and stubbing it out on the corner post! Oh for such innocent days!
One special memory for Dave was the occasion when one of his contests, a Blackpool Cyril Knowles show, against fellow Yorkshireman Al Marshall, was refereed by the legendary Jack Pye.
When Max Crabtree took over matchmaking for Joint Promotions Dave was one of the opposition wrestlers he brought across to Joint rings.
Whilst midget wrestling never equalled the prominence it reached in the United States the inclusion of midgets on a wrestling bill always aroused interest. The most famous midget of them all was Royston Smith, who went by the ring persona of Fuzzyball Kaye, working for both independent and Joint Promotions from the late 1940s until the mid 1960s.
Born into a travelling family Kaye often shared the ring with Tom Gallagher, either as an opponent or tag partner. Kaye, a friend of the Kray Twins and other London criminals Kaye ran a club for dwarves in Soho as well as the Kismet Club, and was a genuinely hard man who could put fear into men literally two or three times his size.
He also worked in the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang, played in pantomime and appeared in Trapeze with Burt Lancaster. Later became a busker. Kaye's colourful life story can be read in the book “Little Legs: Muscleman of Soho,” by George Tremlett (published by Harper, 1989).
The popular Leeds middleweight was another who combined a career in wrestling with that of a farmer. What was it with wrestlers and farms, or public houses? It didn't do him any harm at all, as Jeff was one of those wrestlers respected by all his collegaues. After turning professional in 1962 the agile and skilful kaye was well placed to capitalise on the benefit of television exposure.
He quickly established himself as a firm favourite amongst television fans, seen at his best against similarly speedy technicians but also delighting viewers by outwitting the likes of McManus and Pallo whilst on the way to inevitable defeat.
Northern based, with only sporadic raids into Dale Martin territory Kaye’s television appearances brought him popularity throughout the land. Nonetheless, in the early days we considered him a stylish, clever but unspectacular wrestler. Colourful was not a word that came to mind. Jeff would climb through the ropes, do his job effectively, and leave the ring. Scots born Ian Gilmour was a frequent opponent and the two had some cracking contests. Then it all changed. Jeff and Ian joined forces as The Barons tag team, taking to the ring to battle the likes of villainous teams The Masters, The Dennisons and The Black Diamonds as well as scintillating lightening fast scientific displays with the Royal brothers and the Jet Set.
Suddenly the monochrome became full colour. The Barons distinctive costume of gold boots, ponchos and purple trunks was more than enough to excite us in those days.
Following his retirement Kaye became a highly respected referee and trained youngsters along with his friend Drew McDonald; with Dave Taylor being one of their many proteges.
Long time seasoned professional Peter Kaye was a ubiquitous Lancashire mid-heavyweight of the late sixties (left) who scaled down to middleweight in the seventies (right).
A profuse sweater who always gave 100% and displayed a whole array of holds. Seemingly a genuine horseman and for ever associated inextricably with the foray into pro wrestling of controversial Show Jumping star, Harvey Smith. For this feud he abandoned his Stubby Kaye persona and donned doublet and hose in creating Tally-Ho Kaye, complete with top hat and bugle. Often seen in-ring training and dutifully going down to young starlets, but remember he was trained himself in the sixties by the great Jumping Jim Hussey. In our Years of Wrestling series you can find details of his run behind a mask, mostly northern-based but getting as far as Eastbourne as the programme shows and ultimately unmasked in Scotland by Les Kellett.
Peter was well respected by promoters and was given the responsibility of putting many a novice through his paces. Forty years after the event many Heritage readers have told us of their fond memories of Tally Ho Kaye, “He seemed to be a genuinely tough guy, without being a really top-level shooter. I always enjoyed his banter with the audience and he often made me laugh, even though he was a heel,” Heritage member John told us. Andy added, “Kaye was great at winding up the crowd and of course could wrestle too. I always thought his gimmick was terrific - especially blowing his horn while the MC tried to introduce his opponent! “
There must be something in the Yorkshire water that has enabled the county to produce so many professional wrestlers. Tony Kaye emerged on to the professional scene following three years expert guidance at the Jack Lane Amateur Wrestling Club in Leeds and professional tuition from Cyril Knowles.
After two years of pro tuition it was Knowles that gave Tony the chance to move from the amateur to professional ranks by giving him his first paid contest in 1968 when he was nineteen years old.
For three years Tony wrestled in the north and midlands on the opposition circuit alongside the likes of Johnny Saint, Fred Woolley, Al Marquette and Catweazle.
In 1971 he joined Joint Promotions and was soon exchanging holds with established stars that included Al Miquet, Ian Gilmour, Jim McKenzie and Al Nicol.
It wasn't just a change of opponents but a change of name also, as Tony was re-named Tony Caine for his Joint Promotion appearances. Tony told Wrestling Heritage that it was the 1970s and working for the Crabtrees that was the most enjoyable and demanding part of his career.
Max Crabtree encouraged Tony to develop a more flamboyant style, dye his hair blond and wear more colourful costumes, reminiscent of Bobby Barnes in his Beautiful Bobby days. "Let's hope Caine can wrestle as good as he looks," quipped Kent Walton when Tony made his television debut against Colin Bennett in 1974. The photo on the left shows Tony in action against Bennett.
With the colourful persona came new names: Flower Power Caine, Mr Flower Power and Little Caesar.
For Tony they were great times, which he enjoys reminiscing at the Leeds Reunion. "I'm still living the good life, but nowt to do with wrestling," Tony tells us; and searching for photos, posters and programmes of his wrestling career to pass on to his fifteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Get in touch with us at Wrestling Heritage if you can help.
Middleweight Denis Keegan was one of the famous Rochdale wrestling clan who shared the professional wrestling ring with his two brothers, Jack and Joe.
The three of them gained an interest in the sport from their father who was an army boxing and wrestling champion.
The photo (above) shows Denis with his father.
Born on 30th August, 1925 Denis turned professional shortly after the Second World War when he was in his early twenties. He was soon swapping holds with other Northern hard cases such as Cyril Morris, Jack Beaumont and Jim Holden.
Highlights of his career included wins over British champions Johnny Stead and Eric Taylor. Planning for the future towards the end of his career Denis combined wrestling with that of a landlord at three Lancashire public houses, beginning with Accrington's Commercial Hotel in 1958, and going on to The Griffin's Head at Huncoat and The Thwaites Arms in Oswaldtwistle.
Denis later wrestled under the name Carl Stein, wearing a black velvet cape, lined with red velvet. THe black velvet cape outlasted Denis's wrestling career. His daughter, Bev, recalled to Wrestling Heritage that the cape was subsequently used to make the black velvet "flares" she wore in the 1970s.
Bev also reminded us "It's Denis with one 'n', as dad spent a lifetime telling everyone!"
Denis Keegan passed away in 2004.
Rochdale's Jack Keegan, like brother Denis, picked up the tools of the trade from his father who was a respected amateur boxer and wrestler. Born on 30th October, 1921, Jack was a regular on the bills of the North and Midlands for the best part of two decades.
He turned professional shortly after the end of world war 2, and wrestled until the 1960s. Early bouts are recorded against Jack and Cliff Belshaw, Billy Joyce and Cyril Morris, no greater evidence is required that here was a man who knew how to wrestle.
For most of his career Jack worked for Joint Promotions, moving to the opposition in the early 1960s where he wrestled up and coming stars such as Mal Kirk and established stars such as Jim Holden. Like many other wrestlers working outside of the restrictions of Joint Promotions Jack also promoted his own shows. Jack continued wrestling until the1960s, with our last recorded matches for him being in 1963, seen in the photo on the right against Bill Hargreaves at Oldham Rugby Ground (Jack is on the left). Jack Keegan died on 19th September 2011, shortly after brother Joe, who had died on 27th August 2011.
The first time we remember watching Joe Keegan at the local hall he was up against the indestructible Jack Dempsey.
Or at least seemingly indestructible because Joe had us fans on the edge of our seats truly believing that he could pull it off.
Rochdale's Joe was one of those wrestling enigmas, a quiet unassuming man who could ignite the fans with his technical ability.
That ability was perfected in nine years amongst the amateur ranks. Joe, born 22nd January,1931, was in his twenties when he turned professional in the late 1950s. He combined wrestling commitments with his carpentry trade until 1961 when he turned full time professional.
Fully committed to his wrestling career Joe established himself as a very accomplished welterweight, not just in Britain but overseas.
The photo (left) shows him wrestling in Japan, making him one of the British pioneers in the Far East, long before the visits by Billy Robinson, Dynamite Kid and Mark Rocco.
The photo on the right (above) shows Joe standing between the Donlevy brothers having a laugh with Big Bruno Elrington.
Wrestling Heritage reader Beancounter remembers
"Joe Keegan was a stalwart of the ring in the early to mid 60's and I particularly remember a very good televised bout between Joe and Johnny Kwango. He was an accomplished and honest wrestler and I enjoyed watching him both live and on the television during the 1960's. You were guaranteed a skilled performance whenever you saw his name on the billboard."
That match was in September 1963, and Joe and Kwango wrestled a draw in a match that and was a follow-up to his narrow loss to Kwango at the illustrious Royal Albert Hall the year before.
Joe Keegan was in touch with Wrestling Heritage in March, 2011, from his home in Rochdale, just a few months before his sudden death. "He was so fit and healthy and had even played 5 rounds of golf that week," his niece Bev told us.