One of the great names of British wrestling, Bert Mansfield of Barnsley.
Bert Mansfield was born and Christened Herbert Arthur Manterfield, in 1897.
A powerful force who was a star of the 1930s All-In rings, a very powerful man indeed. Whilst the outbreak of war largely curtailed his wrestling commitments he managed to fit in bouts in the north whilst serving and was a regular at Belle Vue for the duraton.
Not only was Bert one of the top 1930s heavyweights he continued after the war and into the late 1950s. He was a big and very strong heavyweight, not averse to using rough house tactics when he considered it necessary. Bert wrestled all the biggest names in wrestling, including the great Bert Assirati.
He was a contender in Athol Oakeley's 1947 Harringay World heavyweight championship tournament on 18th February, 1947. Sixteen of the top wrestlers in Europe were assembled by promoter Athol Oakeley. From the UK were Cornwall’s Francis St Clair Gregory, Welshman Bill Garnon, Northerners Bill Foy, Bert Mansfield, Eastern Englands Clem Lawrence, and the UK based Trinadian Phil Siki. Also taking part were Estonian Martin Butch, Belgian Gaston Ghevaert, Greek Milo Popocopolis, Canadian Carl van Wurden, Yvar Martinsen, and pre war legends Carl Reginsky, Karl Manooign, Abdul the Turk and Issy Van Dutz.
Mansfield eliminated Abdul the Turk and Karloff Manoogian before falling to the Danish champion Martinsen. In 1950 he held the American World Heavyweight champion Frank Sexton to a one fall each draw at Harringay, which earned him a return contest that he narrowly lost.
Bert's brothers, Frank (Frank Mantovich) and Alan (Carlton Smith) were also top class wrestlers. Bert died in 1992.
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To be added soon
Barnsley heavyweight Frank Manto was the younger brother of Bert Mansfield, and like brother was destined to become one of Britain's top heavyweights.
He came into wrestling around 1940 and established himself against the likes of Cordite Conroy, Billy Riley, Dick Wills and Karl Reginsky. Bert introduced Frank to Atholl Oakeley who promoted the youngster at his famous Harringay tournaments. Oakeley said:
"I met Frank and I saw at once that here was the post-war British heavyweight whom I had been looking for.."
Manto's "day job," a coal miner in the south Yorkshire collieries made him one of the strongest of all wrestlers.
Oakeley once again:
"Most weightlifters only think they are strong, and so they are for thirty seconds at a time. But the work this man has to do, which consisted of heaving coal from the pitface for hour after hour, would have given all the weightlifters I knew a coronary."
Mantovich became a regular main eventer for Oakeley at Harringay Stadium, going on to win both the British and the European heavyweight championship.
Thanks to the Manterfield family for their help in producing this A-Z entry for Wrestling Heritage.
Another from the famous Barnsley clan who came onto the scene in the early 1950s, considerably lighter than his famous father and uncle, Midge Manto is the son of Frank Mantovich. He was a regular worker in British rings during the 1950s.
At the time of writing Derrick, to give him his birth name, lives in Tenerife, where he is in good health and is still very fit.
The hugely popular Greek lightweight champion made his first visit to Britain in 1960 for the independent promoters. Now stop right there those of you that still undervalue the independents. How can you after everything you have read on Wrestling Heritage? In those days working for the independents were class acts that included George Kidd, Eddie Capelli and Eric Sands, and developing stars Zoltan Boscik, Jon Cortez and Peter Rann.
All were opponents of the young Greek who visted our shores, with some spectacular matches against Kidd and Joyce around the south of England. In December 1961 Dale Martin realised what they were missing out on and brought the flashy high flying lightweight over to Joint Promotions.
A Royal Albert Hall debut followed in January 1962 with a win over Jim Breaks, though a 1963 outing against Mick McManus at the Kensington venue was less rewarding. Vassilios remained a regular fixture in British rings until 1965.
He made further short tours in April 1969, dutifully going down to Jackie Pallo at the Royal Albert Hall, and returned to the same glamorous venue in May 1971 to partner Monsieur Montreal and draw with the Hells Angels.
We have ten matches recorded for this heavyweight between June and October, 1946, all of them at Belle Vue, Manchester. Opponents included Charlie Green, Sonny Wallis and Ernie Baldwin.