WRESTLING HERITAGE

A hobby site created by enthusiasts of 
British wrestling celebrating wrestling and 
wrestlers from 1930 onwards through 
fifty glorious years of British wrestling history

K: Page 11 of 11

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

 See all wrestlers in section K

 

Johnny Kostas  ... Josef (Jan) Kovacs ...  Sandor Kovacs ... John Kowalski ... Killer Karl Kowalski ... Jack Kramer ...  Max Krauser ...   Prince Kumali ...   Kung Fu  ... Mihalyi Kuti ... Johnny Kwango ... Kola Kwariani

Johnny Kostas

American based Johnny Kostas stood over six feet tall and weighed 17 stones. He was known, as were others, as the “Golden Greek.

He was born in Greece in 1929 and was interested in many sports as an amateur. He turned professional in the USA in 1950 and  visited our shores in 1963 and 1967. By that time he was already well-regarded in North America, boasting a drawn verdict with Lou Thesz in St Joseph, Missouri.

He remained undefeated for more than three years in South Africa between 1957 and 1961, drawing 50,000 in Sao Paulo, Brazil for his bout against Riki Dozan. Kostas caused interest with his gimmick of wrestling barefoot. We were easily pleased in those days.

Josef (Jan) Kovacs

Josef Kovacs, the Butcher of Budapest "looked every bit a bad dream" according to John Shelvey. We remember watching this all square heavyweight assasin only from his television appearances on our 1960s black and white screens. More fortunate Wrestling Heritage readers have fond memories of the stocky powerhouse in their local hall.

Heritage member Beancounter told us, "I saw him wrestle at Blackpool and Preston a number of times in the 1960's.... His speciality K O move was a type of reverse aeroplane spin in which his opponent was lifted facing upwards, spun and then brought crashing to the floor on his back."   John Shelvey recalls "..the sight of a wrestler, spinning across the ring like the blades of an injured helicopter, crash landing in a corner to be counted out."

Kovacs arrived in Britain in 1958, establishing himself as a formidable force with wins over Geoff Portz, Ray Apollon and Bill Verna. Another win over Apollon was evident in a larger arena, the Royal Albert Hall in December, 1961. He was less fortunate in his following Royal Albert Hall appearance, losing to Tibor Szakacs, Georges Gordienko and local favourite Dazzler Joe Cornelius.  Josef Kovacs was to remain based in Britain for a decade, occasionally leaving to share his art of skulduggery with fans on mainland Europe.

Sandor Kovacs (Terry  Goodrum)


Norfolk's Terry Goodrum came onto the wrestling scene in the 1970s, and by all accounts  those in his presence certainly knew about it, because this man had the tactics to enrage the fans. Goodrum went by various names including Sandor Kovacs and Don Kovacs. Terry was also a promoter during the 1980s.

John Kowalski  (Johnny Hayles, Big K ,The Outlaw)

This Hampshire Farmer managed to participate in the Helsinki Olympic(trial)s that had eluded Alan Garfield (q.v.), but on two wheels in 1956.

He then went on to be trained for the ring by Bruno Elrington, though never came over as threatening, and we were uncomfortable when promoters billed him as Killer Kowalski after an American of the same surname.

Seldom outstanding but always in work thanks both to his size – well suited at 6’4” to pose a credible threat to even the most awesome opponents, such as Rocky Wall, left – and to that hallmark of many underated pros, the ability to switch believably from hero to villain according to the opponent, just like Prince Kumali, who now follows him alphabetically here.

 

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Killer Karl Kowalski

Another name lifted from across the Atlantic.

And no, he wasn't John Kowalski our loveable heavyweight.

Here's the Killer Kowalski we watched in the 1960s independent rings.  We know nothing about him other than he certainly didn't look the part of a Killer, but did do a nice line in scowling. He scowled  from the edge of the ring, he scowled centre of ring,  and fans just knew what sort of wrester he was going to be, so booed and jeered accordingly.

We saw Killer Karl just the once, a 1966 outing when he failed to live up to his name against a young Johnny Kincaid. Not that he was a bad wrestler. Just not very memorable, other than the name. 

In 2010 we asked Johnny for his memories of Killer Karl.

That's right, he couldn't remember him either.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

 

Members share their images and the memories come flooding back

Max Krauser

Max Krauser was a Polish Jew born into a family of eleven children in Stanislawow, Poland.

An expert skier, rugby player, swimmer and skater it was in wrestling that he gained fame, wrestling throughout Europe, Australia and the United States.

A student at the University of Livov Max gained a Degree in Science.  A fan of the wrestling he is said to have jumped into the ring, aged 22, challenging a German champion and beginning an internationally renowned wrestling career.

He wrestled in Britain intermittently between 1934 and 1938. With the outbreak of war imminent he moved to the United States and continued wrestling until the late 1940s.

Following retirement Max and his wife set up their own business manufacturing luggage.

Sign in or sign up now to read our members only article: Top Overseas Wrestlers of the 1930s_

Prince Kumali

In the days when giants were fearsome creatures who could make wrestling rings shake and mere mortals shake with fear, Prince Kumali was a giant amongst giants.

Mighty, massive and magical he was a towering force in a 1960s and 1970s world littered with so other mighty men of wrestling. Add another M. For modesty. Gordon Kumali was a quietly spoken, unassuming man, and when we first interviewed him following victory over Ian Campbell he seemed unaware of  what the fuss was all about.

Born in Georgetown, Guyana, the son of Remington and Julia Petrie, Gordon Petrie was billed as Prince Kumali, the statuesque negro giant. Guyana, his was a career full of contradictions.  A mighty heavyweight we were told of his near invincibility overseas, gaining victory over the great Dara Singh in India, yet in Britain his victories were inevitably mixed with not infrequent losses  against regular adversaries Steve Viedor and Tibor Szakacs.

The Wrestler magazine frequently reported Kumali conquests throughout the Middle East, where he was reported to have appeared in front of crowds numbering tens of thousands. We could not muster such crowds in Britain but Kumali was popular in the largest halls such as the Royal Albert Hall and Belle Vue, Manchester. Throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, there was hardly a corner of the world untouched by Prince Kumali.  In India – see him entering the ring there, left – he also faced the original King Kong. 

Trained as an amateur by the highly regarded Ken Richmond, adding to the skills he had already learned in Guyana. British fans were exposed to the mighty Kumali in 1957 when he began working for independent promoters against the likes of Haystacks Ed Bright, Angelo Papini, Charlie Scott, Bert Assirati and Don Stedman.

In the autumn of 1962 Kumali was signed up by Joint Promotions, and with the television exposure that followed wrestling stardom was inevitable. Kumali mostly worked in singles combat but tagged occasionally with Earl Maynard, and in Canada, known as the Great Malumba, with Georges Gordienko.  

Avid photographer Gordon managed deftly to adapt his style strictly according to his opponent,  he could be the hero when faced with the evil of Bruno Elrington or Kendo Nagasaki, or, with the minimum of arrogant strut or sneer and the right opponent, he could appear sent direct from the devil. Further analysis of this can be found in Armchair Corner under Crowd Control of the Purest Kind.

Prince Kumali died in January, 2015.

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Mihalyi Kuti (Micha Nador)

A powerful heavyweight from Hungary Mihalyi Kuti made his way to Britain in the early 1960s for Dale Martin Promotions.

He was an impressive site, standing 6'3” tall and weighing 17 stones. In his mid twenties he proved a formidable opponent for the likes of Mike Marino, Alan Garfield and The Zebra Kid amongst other top heavyweights of the time.

On television he knocked out Dennis Mitchell on 17th September, 1960, a sign of his power. Four days later he benefited from the referees disqualification of Alan Garfield.

Mihalyi returned to Brtain in 1963 and 1964, again mostly working in the south but again with occasional jaunts north.  Last seen in Britain in 1972 when appearances seem to have been mostly in the north.

The British publicity machine claimed Mihalyi was an Olympic Games finalist but we have yet to uncover evidence of this. Throughout his career Mihalyi Kuti worked mostly in Germany and Austria, as late as 1981, where he was known as Micha Nador.

Mihalyi Kuti died in 2010.

Johnny Kwango (Bully Johnson)

A big and popular name to the casual wrestling fan but paradoxically an undercarder through most of his career other than when facing his regular Londoner buddies, McManus and Pallo in main events. 

Billed as The King of the Head Butts from West Africa, he was famously lost for words when H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh asked him at the Royal show of 1963 where precisely he was from in Africa. 

Favoured a jaw hold and wrestled unsmiliingly well into his sixties, a fact very well camouflaged from fans at the time.  Featured with Jackie Pallo on the opening titles of ITV wrestling, as well as on the first Royal Show in 1963. 

The alleged hardness of his famous bonce was sold strictly and exaggeratedly down the years by every single opponent as though this were one of the Great Commandments of the game, and this is discussed in detail in our Heritage feature Speciality Manoeuvres. Tagged with Linde Caulder, Johnny Kincaid and Clive Myers. 

A musician and dancer, he was billed in the fifties and sixties as Black Kwango, and was the brother of Black Butcher Johnson.  Ended his career as a referee, and made sure in that role that he never stole the limelight from the wrestlers even when nostalgic fans shouted complimentary remarks.

Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: The Evolution of TV's Finest

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Kola Kwariani

Born in Georgia, Tsarist Russia Kola Kwariani is reputed to have been a genuinely hard man who wrestled in Britain and around Europe in the 1930s before making a name for himself in the professional rings of North America.

He played the part of the hired killer in the 1956 Stanley Kubrick film, The Killing. Born in 1903, died 1980.