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

O: Openshaw - outlaw


 Wrestling Heritage A-Z


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Arthur Openshaw

Arthur Openshaw came from Salford and played rugby league for Salford. Arthur later emigrated to Australia and defeated Ken Medlin to take the Australian lightweight title in November, 1966. He later appeared briefly in the UK during the early 1970s, working for independent promoters in the north.

Pat O'Reilly (Bernard Coward)

Heavyweight villain and one time challenger for Bert Assirati's title Pat O'Reilley was busy around the country for the best part of two decades. He was a giant of a man, standing 6' 3” tall and weighing in at over eighteen stones.

O'Reilly met the best in the business, Bernard Assirati, Tony Mancelli, Ray St Bernard, George Gregory, Dave Armstrong, and the rest.

Best remembered for a series of bouts with Jack Pye and Bert Assirati in the 1950s. He was the last man to challenge Assirati for his British title before the champion left Britain for his world tour in 1952. Photographs show Pat on the offensive against Bert Assirati.

Although billed from Ireland O'Reilly was actually Chelmsford businessman Bernard Coward. Bernard was born in Canada and served as in the marines before settling in Britain.

He assumed the Irish persona when working for a northern promoter. An Irishman failed to appear and so Bernard substituted as the fictional Pat O'Reilly, the so-called Irish heavyweight champion. Bernard passed away in 2002, aged 80.

Spike O'Reilly

A green dressing gown and trunks were the hallmark of this popular light heavyweight of the 1960s, billed from Donegal, though we are unsure of the connection as he was otherwise Les Riley, a plumber, from Langley Mill. Irish or not Spike was a formidable wrestler who learned the wrestling trade while he was in the Royal Navy. When he left the Royal Navy, as their Light heavyweight champion, in the late fifties, he quickly turned to professional wrestling, and met the likes of Randolph Turpin, Shirley Crabtree and Cowboy Cassidy. One of the highlights of his career was facing ex world champion Turpin, at Heanor, where he was a local favourite. O’Reilly lost the bout by two falls to one. Spike O'Reilly passed away in February, 2009.

Sandy Orford

Edwin “Sandy” Orford was a  tough as nails Welsh heavyweight, born in Pontypool in the south of the country,  turned professional in the 1940s, though he later moved to Yorkshire where he owned a farm.  The move to Yorkshire, whilst still at school, deprived Sandy of an opportunity to play rugby for his country at schoolboy level, an injustice he reversed later in life by playing for Wales four times as a senior between 1939 and 1944. He pursued his interest in rugby whilst in Yorkshire, and played for Wakefield Trinity, Dewsbury  and Bradford Northern Rugby League Clubs.

Whilst a schoolboy Sandy received the Royal Humane Life-Saving Certificate after rescuing a boy from drowning.

He had two spans as a masked wrestler, for details of which see Top Masked Wrestlers' countdown Top Twenty Masked Men.

He wrestled all over the world and, like so many, seemed to just fade away.

Sandy seems to have had more “goes” at the great Lou Thesz than any other Brit when the American visited the Uk, managing one draw and two losses against the American.

Tony Orford

Heavyweight son of Sandy Orford,a familar figure mainly in the north during the early 1960s. Whilst a teenager it was a toss up whether Tony should pursue a career in rugby or wrestling, with the latter winning the day. Tony's father, Sandy, had played rugby at both club and international level. In 1966 Tony moved to Canada initially working for promoters Rod Fenton and Stu Hart. Most of Tony's remaining career was spent  working in North America with occasional visits back home.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Franz Orlik

Heavyweight who frequently wrestled in Britain during the first half of the 1960s, including a 1961 loss to Steve Logan at the Royal Albert Hall.

His career spanned more than twenty years from 1951 onwards and he died in June, 1981.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

 Unusual Happenings

I recall one evening at the Blake Hall, Bridgwater - circa 1967/8 when the top of the bill was Tibor Szakacs v Crusher Verdu. Unfortunately it had not been possible to erect the ring due to the twelve hooks that held the ropes in the corner posts being left at the previous nights show in Bournemouth! Dale Martin's were good enough to apologise and our pre bought tickets were valid for the next show! Duncan

I recall savouring a Brian Dixon bill at Manchester's Houldsworth Hall on Deansgate in the early nineteen seventies when Kendo Nagasaki led the way for an exodus of Joint stars onto the independent circuit. Top of the bill was Nagasaki versus Albert Wall with a full undercard including the girls and Kurt Stein amongst others. We got into the foyer and saw all the wrestlers there as well but there was no ring (and, as far as I recall, no Brian Dixon). The story went that Dixon had hired the ring from Jack Cassidy who was the regular promoter at the hall (although his shows had become increasingly spasmodic). The story went that although Cassidy had accepted the job, he was not happy that Dixon was using his hall so stitched him up with a "no show".
Graham Brook

I travelled from Blackpool to Preston to watch a 1972 show at Preston Pubic Hall. When I arrived there were only about twenty or thirty waiting outside. Time past and well past the start time we all decided nothing was going to happen and gave up. Just up the road I passed Saul Street Baths and found Norman Morrell was putting a show on that night. Things like that used to happen. Hack 

Jim Osborn

A powerful 17 stones visitor from Oregon debuted in UK in October 1967 in a Lewisham bout with Johnny Yearsley, closing the win via the unusual route of a grapevine submission. Osborn was a convincing heavyweight, a refreshing change from the multitude of North American villains.

His most notable British victory was a surprise Royal Albert Hall defeat of former British Heavyweight Champion, Geoff Portz.

Such visitors brought to British rings useful worldwide links, Osborn being a case in point having faced Lou Thesz and Japanese champion the seven foot tall Great Babu.

However, he exited from his British tour with a whimper, going down bloodied 0-2 to The Outlaw.

Eddie O'Shea

Londoner Eddie O'Shea was a popular middleweight across Southern England throughout the 1960s. His was another of those careers that seemed to hold promise that was nerver realised. His early careeer was dogged by injuries resulting from a car accident not long after he had turned professional. A very good amateur foundation led to a professional debut in the early 1960s, and Eddie was soon a favourite around Dale Martin Halls. In the years that followed he moved through the ranks from lightweight to light heavy, a regular worker mainly in southern England.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Shaun O'Shea

Our memories of rumbustious Manchester heavyweight Shaun O'Shea are in exciting bouts against some of the biggest and baddest on the independent circuit - Big Bill Coverdale, The Monster, Karl Von Krammer, and Dirty Dave Reynolds.

Shaun was also one of the myriad of Manchester based independent promoters of the 1960s, O'Shea Enterprises putting on wrestling shows and (non British Boxing Board of Control) boxing shows throughout the north, midlands and Wales.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

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Chic Osmond

Chic Osmond worked regularly on Joint Promotion bills of the late 1950s and early 1960s, tangling with the likes of Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus and Eddie Capelli.

His main claim to fame seems to be that Adrian Street names him as his greatest influence, having trained him in the ways of the professional world at the London YMCA.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.


Pat O'Sullivan

Fiery  young Irish wrestler came onto the scene in 1978. A frequent worker with a less than impressive record, subject to a surprising number of straight falls defeats. Fans found him entertaining and welcomed his place on the bill. Made three televsions appearances and  sadly passed away in 2005.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

The Outlaw

Way back in the 1960s when life was simpler us wrestling fans knew where we stood as far as masked men were concerned. They were mostly heavyweights, invariably dirty (as we called the villains in those days) and seemingly invincible. The Outlaw followed a path led by Count Bartelli, The Ghoul, and a number of other home grown hooded terrors.

The Outlaw was destined to tread paths that had not yet been opened to the masked Bartelli, Ghoul, or even Kendo Nagasaki. The British television viewing public was permitted to view this masked man in action on their television screens at the end of 1965, and a dozen or so more times over the next two years.

Although one half of the Wrestling Heritage team always considered the Outlaw fairly tame alongside The Ghoul, The Monster and Kendo Nagasaki we have to admit that he was a class act, and his tv opponents were top-notch, including Peter Maivia, Ian Campbell, Bill Howes, Steve Veidor, Pat Barrett, Jim Hussey, Gwyn Davies and Chati Yokouchi. We can think of no other long-term masked heavyweight who did not finally meet his match, but the original Outlaw disappeared from our shores some three years later unbeaten and unmasked.

Whilst the original Outlaw defeated all before him in Joint Promotion rings there were always imitations (Carl Dane a particularly good one) in independent rings. In subsequent years the name re-surfaced time and again in both independent and Joint rings.

Top Masked Wrestlers' identities are revealed only in the Wrestling Heritage countdown "Hooded Heydays".

The Imposter

Caulkead remembers

At the time when The Outlaw was appearing on our TV screens on Saturday afternoons he was billed to appear at Ventnor Winter Gardens on my native Isle of Wight. I forget the identity of his opponent. Come the day, the relevant top of the bill bout would follow the interval, as usual. The Outlaw's opponent entered first, thus building the suspense. Then the man himself emerged from backstage. But, quite clearly, it was not the man we'd seen on the box, and were expecting to see in the flesh. Television's Outlaw wore tights and a vest. This man wore tights, but was bare chested. And the hood was not of the same style that we'd seen on TV. There was a feeling that we'd been conned! But we let the bout continue, and, in all fairness, it was a decent contest.

Talking with regular wrestling goers (possibly at Ryde Town Hall), the word was that the masked man we'd seen at Ventnor was Tony Cassio.
Two promotions later at Ventnor, we were scheduled to see The Outlaw take on.....Tony Cassio!! Come the night, it was not the same Outlaw we'd seen before. But at least this guy was wearing a vest, and had the right type of hood. Again, a decent bout.

But we still felt we'd been duped.