P: Plant - Popocopolis
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Another one from a century ago about whom little is known.
Welshman Taffy Tom Plant was one of Apollo William Banker's troupe of wrestlers that toured Britain in the early 1930s.
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.
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Don Plumley with a wristlock on Pasquale Salvo.
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Don Plummer of Burnley was trained by Bob Bannister alongside Ian St John, Andreas Swajics and 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. Heritage member Beancounter has sent us these two 1964 adverts from the Garstang Courier where Don wrestled at the Kirkland Memorial Hall, Churchtown. Also on the bill other Bob Bannister proteges, including Andreas Swasjics and Ian St John. Take note also of the referee - Heritage friend Gerry Hoggarth.
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 Emil 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 Emil should not be confused with the French Olympic wrestler Emile Poilve .
Following his wartime service as a parachute instructor in the R.A.F. Emil 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 (Above right).
In "Blue Blood On The Mat" Atholl Oakeley recalls that during his tour of America in 1932 he was placed under the guidance of a wrestler known as Karl Pojello. Pojello, born Karolis Požela in the Northern Lithuanian village of Steigviliai in 1893, was to become a long time friend of Oakeley and consequently wrestled in Britain for most of the 1930s. Aged thrirteen Karl moved to St Petersburg to work in his brothers' pharmacy. An interest in wrestling, developed during his teenage years, took Karl to Siberia, Manchuria, Indo China and Japan, turning professional to pay for his travels. In 1923 he set sail from Japan for America, settling in Chicago and taking American citizenship. This story, taken from a letter written by Pojello, differs from other accounts that he escaped St Petersburg on the day of the 1917 uprising and walked 1,400 miles to Paris. By January 1924 Pojello was wrestling in Chicago and travelled extensively across America during the 1920s,also serving for eighteen months as an athletic instructor in the U.S. Army.
Karl Pojello wrestled around Britain and the Continent, with occasional jaunts back home, during the 1930s. With war clouds gathering he returned to America, taking with him his protege Maurice "The Angel" Tillet in August, 1939. Pojello continued wrestling until the mid 1940s and later concentrated on training and management. Karolis Požela died on 4th September 4, 1954, and within hours his protege Maurice Tillet suffered a fatal heart attack "Friends Whom Even Death Couldn't Part".
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Read the extended tribute: The Pojello Mystery
Canadian Red Pollard (not to be confused with the Aylesbury wrestler Ted Pollard 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 restauraunt, "La Mancha."
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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 Andreas 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.