K: Kilby - Kirkpatrick
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Whenever wrestlers and fans meet together none are more popular than Alan Kilby. If prizes were given for longevity then the Sheffield light heavyweight would have a sideboard full of them because his professional career spanned over forty years. In the 1960s and 1970s Kilby was a regular on the nation's television screens, often partnering Harry Kendall, Mike Eagers or Tim Lomas in the Silent Ones tag team. Whoever the partner Alan was a darling of the fans. He was a more than competent wrestler, who made it as British champion and did not allow his deafness to get in the way of a long and successful career. In the 1980s Alan had a rivalry with Dave Finlay that saw the Heavy Middleweight title pass between them over a two year period. Alan then went up a weight division to light heavyweight where he won the British championship on five occasions and retired as undefeated champion. In July 2009 Alan received a lifetime achievement award from Birmingham’s Deaf Cultural Centre for his work as an ambassador for the deaf community. His son Adam has continued the families contribution to the British wrestling scene.
Gordon Kilmartin (Tommy Kilmartin)
The heavyweight from Pontefract was liked by fans and fellow wrestlers. He had the look of a bruiser and fans expected action when Gordon Kilmartin got into the ring, and they usually got it.
Gordon was one of Charlie Glover's lads, learning the business at Charlie's gym behind the Junction Public House. We have been told that Gordon was one of the hard men of the gym, and would be called upon if any of the youngsters needed a bit of come-uppance.
His entrance to the ring in a colourful red and gold coat belied a gritty, tenacious wrestler who knew all the moves. Gordon boxed as an amateur going on to learn the professional trade in the boxing and wrestling booths of the north. Other sporting interests included rugby union which he pursued during his national service. It might have been fifteen years of pit work that gave him courage, but it was hard work and natural ability that gave Yorkshireman Gordon the skill to become a popular heavyweight of the 1950s and 1960s. He retired from the ring in the mid sixties and became a pub landlord at the Gardeners Arms in Pontefract.
See the entry for Dennis Mitchell
A combination of judo and wrestling holds from this Japanese visitor in 1957. He was considered one of the greatest judoka of all time, becoming the youngest ever 5th degree black belt in 1938, aged just eighteen. At the Royal Albert Hall he defeated Judo Al Hayes in May 1957, returning to the Kensington venue to knock out Jim Hussey the following October. Other British opponents included Vic Hessle, Alan Garfield, Black Butcher Johnson, Dai Sullivan and Tony Mancelli. He famously lost to Japanese legend Rikidozan and later claimed he had been double-crossed as the bout was planned to end in a draw. Masahiko Kimura died from lung cancer on 18th April, 1993.
Read our extended tribute in Shining Stars: Kinky Goings On
Related article: Calling The Shots in Armchair Corner at www.wrestlingheritage.com
See the entry for King Ben
Wigan's Freddy Morley was active in the 1940s and 1950s, given his ring name as a result of his curly hair. Our earliest record is of a contest in January, 1947, against Sankey Allan at the Caird Hall, Dundee.
Johnny King of Doncaster was a busy worker in the 1940s and 1950s, travelling nationwide to tangle with the likes of Jack Dempsey, Jack Beaumont and Count Bartelli (in the days Bartelli weighed around 13 stones. A forgotten hero with a place in wrestling history, Johnny King is credited as the man who trained Albert Rocky Wall.
Lanky Sussex-based equestrian and 6"5" heavyweight wrestler whose features assured him a movie role as Frankenstein’s Monster. On the back of his film stardom, he wrestled for a while also under the intriguing name, The Great Karloff
In-ring master of the spinning cradle hold, this New Zealander faced all the great heavyweights of British wrestling in a two-decade career that came to an end in 1970.
The tough New Zealander came to Britain after serving in the air force and in 1946 was well placed at a time professional wrestling was re-establishing itself as a popular spectator sport.
Before the war Ernie Kingston had been runner up in the New Zealand heavyweight amateur boxing championships of 1938, and also played rugby.
In Britain he established himself as one of the country’s most popular heavyweights of the 1950s and 1960s, and found similar success wrestling on mainland Europe.
Ernie is also remembered as an excellent horse rider, and in Germany would ride his horse into the stadium and up to the ringside.
Read our extended tribute in Personality Parade “Northern Powerhouse”
A villainous American who made his way across the pond from his home in Brooklyn. Bernard Hughes recalls visits to Britain in the 1950s of Red Kirkpatrick, "He was a real rough house, and a handful for the referee."
The American had little time for the scientific aspects of the sport and Bernard tells us he was disqualified on the first three (of six) occasions he saw him at the New St James Hall, Newcastle. Red was easily identified by the bluebirds tattooed below each collarbone. "A handy bloke to have in a streetfight!" said Bernard. Another member who remembers Red is Raven, who told us that unlike his ring persona Red was a lovely man to talk to after the show,