Ogden - O'Neill
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Coalman Bill Ogden did begin his working life down the pits and learned to wrestle in his spare time at the "Black Boy" public house in Stoke on Trent.
He turned professional in the all-in years, in 1935, and wrestled professionally for almost forty years until 1973, when he retired aged sixty.
A background in fairground boxing preceded a professional wrestling debut at the Ideal Skating Rink, Hanley. He was trained by the Belshaw brothers at their Wigan gymnasium, cycling to Wigan and back each week from his home in Hanley.
Bill’s entire life was devoted to wrestling in one capacity or another. When he wasn’t performing he worked as a referee or MC.
When needed he would transport up to eight wrestlers to shows in his van. He even built wrestling rings! We’re not talking about erecting them, we mean actually building them from scratch. Naturally, he did put them up when required also.
Towards the end of his career he was transformed into the villainous Gypsy Joe Savoldi. Bill’s career spanned almost forty years and he died in March, 1992.
He might have been nicknamed "Mad Mike," but there was nothing nonsensical about Irish born middlewight Mike O'Hagan. Born in Donegal, in the West of Ireland, Mike was based in Scotland, and was one of the Dale Storm stable of fighters from the Mossblown Village Gym, "A lovely fellah, and very funny too," Dale told us.
In fact when Dale opened the doors of his gym it was only made possible by the help of quite a few of his trainees and Michael donated many of his own sets of weights to the club, supplementing those bought by Dale and his brothers. A fervent republican, Mad Mike often teamed up with Teddy Bear Taylor, a strong loyalist, which demonstrates once again the boundaries broken by wrestling. Fans were prepared for the unexpected when Mike took to the ring against the likes of Dale Storm, Big Ian Miller and Farmer John.
"Unpredictable" was the word used by Eddie Rose to describe the man who he said had "an impish sense of humour" and of whom "I just loved his ring persona." One one occasion, in the more politically sensitive 1960s, Mike entered the ring carrying a large parcel with the letters IRA written on the side. The management of the hall were none too pleased.
Popular around Scottish independent rings in the 1960s and 1970s Mad Mike wrestled part time and consequently rarely ventured across the border into the country south, which was our loss and the Scottish fans gain.
Powerful northern based heavyweight with a succesful but short career of around five years from 1952 onwards. Wrestled all the big names in wrestling and failed to take the British heavyweight title from Ernie Baldwin in December, 1952.
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Jim Olivera was a rough, tough, bad tempered wrestler, and legend has it that on one occasion he knocked out the teeth of the referee. His mistreatment of referees is certainly well documented. Hopefully he was a little more mild mannered when involved in his other business concerns, running a souvenir shop and ladies' hairdressers in Palma Nova.
Following an amateur boxing career in which he represented Spain in the 1948 Olympics, and a short professional career, he turned to professional wrestling.
He fared far better as a wrestler, despite being banned for a year in his home country, and took the European Mid heavyweight title in 1948.
In 1961 he lost the European heavyweight title to Billy Joyce at Belle Vue. However, we can find no record of him having won the belt and some might even suspect he was given the belt in order to lose it to the British champion. He wrestled throughout Europe, and was a regular in the UK, until his retirement in 1964.
Tony Olivera was the younger brother of Jose Olivera and one time Spanish welterweight champion.
By the time he began accompanying brother to Britain in 1956 he had filled out and was matched against heavyweights in sigle matches as well as partnering big brother in tag matches.
Tony's wrestling exploits took him around the world, travelling extensively throughout Europe and South America
I once wrestled in Bournmouth and arrived early. I met Leslie Crowther and invited him to the wrestling. Much to my surprise, he actually turned up. Martin R Gillott
Jimmy Edwards was appearing at La Dolce Vita, Newcastle in 1965 and on the Saturday night he dropped in at St James Hall. He was introduced to the audience and received a mixed reception; he ate a hot dog while he was there (don't know whether he enjoyed it) but he sent one of his entourage to purchase it for him. Sometime earlier he had appeared as a wrestler in an imaginative and entertaining episode of "The Seven Faces of Jim" Dave Sutherland
In the seventies I tried to get to the Royal Albert Hall presentations as often as I could and once found myself sitting next to Goon Show regular and top jazzman Ray Ellington. Graham Brook
Leslie Crowther attended two Promotions that i know of when appearing in Morecambe, Pat Phoenix Attended Belle vue on several occasions, Russell Harty also attended King Georges Blackburn, Norman Vaughan Liverpool Stadium and Southport Floral.Paul Mitchell
Another tough Northerner, born in Scotland to Irish parents, but latterly from Southport, and one half of the Liverpool Skinheads tag team. Terry and partner Roy Paul entered the ring wearing denim shorts held up with braces. He combined the courage and stamina of days as a coal miner with the discipline developed as an amateur boxier and put it all to good use to become a professional wrestler with a career spanning twenty-odd years.
He was an all action wrestler with a career that began in 1956 and spanned both the independent and Joint Promotion organizations. We remember him on the northern independent circuit of the 1960s but he went on to much greater things and was a frequent worker at the two big North West venues, the Liverpool Stadium and Belle Vue, Manchester. He was also the second opponent for a young Kendo Nagasaki, following in the path of Jim Hussey and losing by the KO route at Birmingham's Embassy Sportsdrome on 17th November, 1963
In the 1960s he would sometimes pull on a mask and adopt the personae of Doctor Blood, a villain who was finally upended, and unmasked by that other good doctor, Death.