Poland's Leon Ketchell was a giant of a man, claiming to be 7'2" tall, but that seems to be on the generous side.
He came to Britain in December, 1936 and started wrestling following a short lived boxing career in the United States. His wrestling in Britain seems to have been limited to December 1936 and January, 1937. Ketchell is photographed with Polish European Heavyweight Champion wrestler Max Krauser.
Wrestling Heritage outlines the evolution of the sport in bite sized pieces.
The "Hendon Hercules," seventeen stone Half Nelson Keys was a significant part of the British wrestling scene from the start of the 1930 wrestling revival.
Throughout the 1930s he wrestled, and had his fair share of wins, over top men such as Bulldog Bill Garnon, Atholl Oakeley, Carver Doone, Billy Riley, Sam Rabin and Masked Top Hat.
Admittedly he lost to each of them at times, but the quality of opponent demonstrates that here was one of the top men of the 1930s wrestling scene.
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We saw Ghalib Khan only once, an independent show in the 1960s when he defeated a bruiser (who we also never saw or heard of again) by the name of Killer John Dillinger.
Well the Killer just wasn't, but we do recall Ghalib as a muscular giant of a man with the more imposing presence of the two men in the ring. With his powerful physique it was natural his style relied heavily on strength holds; he was a very strong, which was just as well for the sake of his companions in the photograph.
We later learned that Ghalib (sometimes The Great) Khan combined his 1960s wrestling career with that of a butcher in Pearson Street, Bradford. He stood 6'5" tall, weighed around 19 stones and was immensely strong.
Ghalib Khan passed away in December, 2008, aged 84, following which his body was transported to Pakistan for burial.
Popular barefoot Mongolian heavyweight who visited Britain annually 1955 to 1962, probably from a Parisian base. He was actually Kalmyk which makes him just about the only European Oriental wrestler on our countdown.
His Royal Albert Hall victims included Portz, Hayes, Garield and Appolon; he only lost there twice, once to Mike Marino and once when clear he wasn't returning, to Wild Ian Campbell.
Dave Sutherland recalls 1962 controversy in his televised k.o. defeat of Johnny Yearsley. James Morton recalls him being billed as The Wall of China in France.
In the sixties and seventies he appeared in French movies, right. In May 2012 forum research is ongoing to build a fuller profile, and we will update accordingly here as news emerges. Not to be confused with a moustachioed 80s Blackpool wrestler by the same name.
Update July 2012: Iska Khan's profile rises. He was the featured wrestler in the BBC's 1962 Grandstand Sports Book (thanks Palais Fan).
And in the same year he was the key featured wrestler in a TV Times full spread article on dancing wrestlers, right, in which Ski Hi Lee and Wild Ian Campbell were also photographed.
Said to have been Mongolian, but Blackpool was closer to the truth for the 1960s/70s fearsome headed (apart from a pony tail) heavyweight. John Raven was was a very believable Iska Khan, from Fleetwood in Lancashire.
I worked with Ripper Raven in his previous exxistence as Iska Khan from Mongolia - and very good he looked, too. He was accompanied into the ring by a beautiful oriental girl second. As we know, all was not quite as it seemed. Iska was a local lad and he told me the girl was on loan from a Chinese restaurant in Blackpool.
He described to me his trips as a deep sea trawlerman; both of them. He said the first one was so horrendous, to Icelandic waters that he felt he had to try again but the second trip was worse than the first. So he stuck to wrestling and became a real crowd pleaser both as the exotic Khan and as General Ripper Raven. Wrestling's gain and Bird Eye's loss.
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Kid Hawaii was born in Belgium before moving to California whilst young. He took American citizenship and returned to Europe to pursue his wrestling career.
Kid Hawaii made a short tour of Britain in 1972, losing to Tibor Szakacs at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1972.
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Widely acknowledged as the finest technical wrestler in the post war era the workings of professional wrestling make it difficult to evaluate whether or not Kidd’s elevated position in the wrestling world is justified.
There are a few things of which we can be sure. Kidd was a major force in extending the popularity of wrestling beyond the heavyweight division.
His technical ability was appreciated as an entertainment in itself. Few could equal his combination of skill, creativity, cunning and agility.
He was World Lightweight champion for well over twenty years, and such was the respect of his peers that no one challenged the legitimacy of that claim. Kidd could apply, and escape from, holds like no one else. His influence on his championship successor Johnny Saint is self evident, but Kidd will always remain the innovator and the original.
One criticism that we might make is that, like so many others, he was tempted to remain active for too long. If that’s the worst we can say about the man then we have to admit he was one of the greats of the post war wrestling era.
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Had British wrestling not been removed from our television screens in 1988 we are sure that Johnny Kidd would still be one of the biggest names that would be entertaining us every Saturday afternoon.
His potential was apparent from his 1981 television debut, though a succession of losses against the greatest names of the time Jim Breaks, Johnny Saint, Mick McManus, his trainer Ken Joyce and others may suggest otherwise.
Losing to vastly more experienced men the agility, speed and skill were always evident. Success came only in his sixth planned appearance, a win over Blondie Barratt, quickly followed by the disappointment of the match not being broadcast.
We have no doubt that Kidd was one one of the last purveyors of true British style wrestling, carrying on the traditions of the previous fifty years.
As we write this in 2009 Johnny Kidd is still entertaining the public over thirty years after making his professional debut against Tony Skarlo in Salisbury.
The name Dave Kidney came to national prominence in July, 2009 when the 78 year old wrestler was the subject of a BBC television documentary, Dave Kidney - Superstar.
Born in 1930 in Dundee Dave began his wrestling training when he was nine years old and joined the Northend Club in Dundee. Lack of entrance money did nothing to deter the youngster and he would sweep the floor and light the fire in return for his lessons.
Dave turned semi professional shortly after the war. Due to his lack of weight Dave usually faced far heavier opponents. In 1959 he defeated George Allan at the Caird Hall, Dundee, to win the BWA British Featherweight Championship which he never lost. Although credible challengers were in short supply, and the weight division was not recognised by Joint Promotions, Dave did defend his title around the country: Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, London and Bradford. He worked for numerous independent promoters, including Universal Promotions, Ace Sports Promotions and Jack Casey, as well as for Joint Promotions.
When Jules Kiki descended onto the British wrestling scene in the mid 1930s he was said to be a famous Spanish bullfighter embarking on a world tour. As always with professional wrestling the truth was less romantic but no less interesting. Kiki was not Spanish but came from an East End of London family, born Moses Mercado. on 5th October, 1911.
George Isaac Mercado was a bookmaker known for many years as Captain Kiki until his death in 1930. Presumably this was the source of Moses’ wrestling name. Jules was a regular feature of the British wrestling scene from the mid 1930s until the late 1950s, adding muscles and poundage as the years passed.
An imposing figure and reputed to be a skilful wrestler. Jules served in the Royal Air Force during the war and continued wrestling when service commitments permitted. We found him at Preston in 1940 wrestling as the Black Owl and unmasked by The Red Devil. In 1951 he sailed to South Africa where he wrestled. Around 1958 he drifted over to the independents and we last spotted him on a Paul Lincoln show in 1959.