P: Plant - Popocopolis
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Tom Plant was one of Apollo William Banker's troupe of wrestlers that toured Britain in the early 1930. Billed as British middleweight champion Catch-as-catch-can style he certainly seems to have had a number of illustrious opponents including Billy Riley, Alec Munro and Billy Wood.
Don Plummer of Burnley was trained by Bob Bannister alongside Ian St John, Andreas Swajics and Phil Kenyon (Mike Agusta) at Bob's gymnasium in Accrington. As one of the more experienced and skilful of Bob's Army Don took on the role of one of the main trainers at the gym. He worked for northern independent promoters in the 1960s. A stocky light heavyweight Don had the skill to match fully blown heavyweights and the speed and agility to suggest a middleweight. Mike Agusta remembers Don, who he tells us will now be in his eighties, “We were even billed together at an outdoor “Miners Fete” day, great contest with both of us showing the skills that were taught! This contest (so we were told) was filmed along with the other contests. The film was to be shown at miners clubs & events all over the north of England.”
Popular good looking heavyweight Emile Polive was surprisingly born in Cheshire. Publicity claimed his unusual name arose from his French mother's maiden name. This may or may not have been the case, but our Emile should not be confused with the French Olympic wrestler Emile Poilve, who died in 1962.
Following his wartime service as a parachute instructor in the R.A.F. Emile entered the professional wrestling ranks when he met the Mighty Elmo, Jim Foy, at Willenhall. From 1948 onwards he wrestled regularly throughout the midlands and north of England, most frequently for Wryton Promotions.
Following a successful wrestling career which saw him travel across Europe Emil went on to become a popular referee.
Eddie Rose told us: “Emile Poilve came from the same little village as me (now gobbled up as part of Stockport but then fairly quiet and remote). He had a good career as a heavyweight until back problems forced his retirement. He was particularly close to Jack Atherton and looked after Jack and his wife when old age and illness took their toll. As a ref? Yyou hardly knew he was in the ring with you yet he kept good control. He had a VW camper van to travel to shows and the lads used to tussle to get in first for a lie down on the journey home after a show: 2/3 hours up the M6 in the dark!”
Rex Strong told us, “A referee could make or break a match, and Emil had the inate skill of knowing precisely when to intervene.”
Read our extended tribute: Top Wrestlers of the 1930s: Karl Pojello
See the entry for Francis Sullivan
Canadian Red Pollard (not to be confused with the Aylesbury wrestler Ted Pollars arrived in Britain in November 1970 and stayed for almost three months, dutifully going down to home grown talent in northern England and Scotland. The Joint Promotions flyer announcing his impending visit said the 19 year old had been wrestling professionally since 1956. Er? Well he would have been five in 1956! We know that our promoters could tell porkies, but this one takes some beating. Tom Pollard sported a ginger beard, hence the nickname and came to the UK with his friend Billy Watson Jr. We are told the two of them often wrestled each other in Ontario in the early 1970s. His tour ended suddenly at the end of January, resulting in his planned bout against Mike Marino at the Royal Albert Hall being cancelled.
Aylesbury's Ted Pollard has devoted his life to body building (he was a Mr Universe competitor), all aspects of martial arts and the entertainment world. In 1965 he turned professional wrestler and worked the rings of Southern England for four years. He curtailed his wrestling career to perform in cabaret, on television and in the theatre performing a combination of martial arts and acrobatics.
Lean and muscular mid heavyweight Manuel Polman was a popular and frequent visitor to Britain during the 1960s, arriving on our shores no fewer than nine times. The Wrestler magazine dated his first visit in 1963, but our unofficial records suggest he worked in Britain as early as 1959. Whenever his first appearance he seemed to turn up for at least a few bouts every year during the 1960s. Skilled and classy, with a Spanish mid heavyweight championship to his name Manuel Polman had, neveretheless, a mixed bag of results. Intermingled with some impressive performances we found high profile losses against Bill Howes, Steve Logan and Mike Marino at the Royal Albert Hall, and unsuccessful attempts to take Ernie Riley's European Light Heavyweight title and Marino's World Mid Heavyweight crown.
Heritage member SaxonWolf discovered that Polman was Spaniard Manuel Perez Lopez.
Member djmask said: "According to John Listers excellent ITV Wrestling site the Perez Lopez Tv bout versus Jackie Pallo was in 1962. This would appear to be his only appearance as P. Lopez but he did reappear on Tv in 1963 as Perez Polman in a Tv contest versus Andy Robin. He then reappears for several televised bouts as Manuel Polman between 1969-1971."
When not in Britain the globetrotting Spaniard worked extensively throughout Europe and South America, using the name Manuel Lopez. Polman's wrestling career extended into the 1980s. Heritage member Gernot Freiberger took up the story and told us that Manuel Polman lived in Hanover for many years where he managed a Spanish restaurant, "La Mancha."
Professional wrestling boasted a plethora of Golden Greeks, but Milo Popocopolis was one of the hardest and best, emerging onto the British wrestling scene in the mid 1930s as a teenager making his way against older and more experienced men. Milo was born Andrea Nicola Yiannopoullos. In 1947 he defeated Bulldog Bill Garnon in the first round of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament at Harringay, before losing by the only fall required to the eventual winner Bert Assirati. He defeated Guy Lombardo at the Royal Albert Hall in April, 1953, one of the last shows promoted at the venue by Atholl Oakeley. In the twilight years of his career Milo became heavily involved in campaigning for better conditions and pay for wrestlers and was instrumental in one of the attempts to form a wrestlers union, the Professional Wrestlers Welfare Association. In the early 1960s Milo Popocopilis wrestled for Paul Lincoln Management and around that time began promoting his own shows in London and southern England. Like his brothers, Johnny and Tommy, Milo owned a restaurant in London's Soho district, and was also the proprietor of the DeMilo Hotel in Hastings.