P: Portz - Priore
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Muscular Geoff Portz looked every bit the professional wrestler that he was. As he stepped into the ring we could sense that here was a serious wrestler who meant business. The powerful Shipley heavyweight turned professional in 1951, aged twenty, following a successful amateur career.
Just a few years later he was one of a select group of heavyweights with the honour of being matched with Lou Thesz during his 1957 British tour, holding the American to a fifteen round draw at Leicester.
Portz was a champion at both Mid Heavyweigt and Heavyweight before going on to gain even greater success in the United States. In 1964 he held the British heavyweight title for six months before losing to erstwhile champion Billy Joyce after suffering an unfortunate injury. Similar bad luck resulted in Portz losing his grip on the mid heavyweight title a couple of years later.
A gentleman of the ring we remember Portz as a purist wrestler who combined technical skill, enormous strength and submission style to make his mark as one of the most successful post war heavyweights.
His career gained a new lease of life in 1972 when he wrestled in the USA and Canada, finally winning the North American heavyweight championship not once, not twice, but on four separate occasions. Geoff retired from wrestling in the early 1980s, the end of his career due to a knee injury whilst working in Germany. He later moved to Australia.
Read our extended tribute: Power & Precision
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Ambassadors of Wrestling - Bob Leonard on Geoff Portz
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Portz's Stampede Days
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Britain's Heavyweight Champions
One of an expanding number of super-sized heavyweights that came to symbolise British wrestling in the 1980s. The London based heavyweight weighed in at just over twenty-stones and made a few television appearances in the 1980s. He appeared in the last ever Dale Martin Promotions wrestling show at the Royal Albert Hall, partnering Sid Cooper and losing against Big Daddy and Greg valentine on 30th October, 1985. Later re-emerged on the British wrestling scene using the name Bearcat Brody.
Gateshead's Ken Prest first ventures into the professional wrestling ring was on the continent in 1965, but it was another three years before he was seen in British rings. turned professional in 1968. Prior to this the British debut twenty-three year old Prest had learned a great deal in the fairground wrestling booths of the north east. Ken appeared in various westerns filmed in Spain and also appeared in “Women In Love.” Despite being featured in a full page Wrestler article we have no first hand knowledge of Ken, but would welcome readers contributions.
The wrestling world is littered with good men who were never in the limelight but were the essential cogs that made the sport so great.
One such wrestler is the Middlesborough mat man Les Prest.
If ever a man enthused passion for the wrestling business it was Les. Wrestling throughout the north, for both independent and Joint Promotions Les's career came to an abrupt end during a bout against Terry Jowett.
Saddened but undeterred Les was determined to continue in the business and bought a ring to promote his own shows.
With his contacts and reputation as an honest and reliable colleague Les was able to book some of the bigger known names in wrestling for his shows.
Les Kellett, Mal Kirk, Peter Preston, John Cox, Barry Douglas, Lee Sharron, Johnny Saint and others were soon regular workers for Les Prest Promotions.
Read our extended tribute: A Man With a Passion
Fame and infamy wrapped in one bouncy ball of a wrestler. Intrigue and skulduggery, and an enigma to surpass any masked man.
That was Bradford middleweight Peter Preston. He was a fairly run of the mill middleweight, though something of a favourite of Bradford promoter Norman Morrell, until January, 1967. That was when everything changed and Peter Preston became an overnight star with one of the most sensational, and much talked about, wins in British wrestling.
Morrell matched the Northerner with Mick McManus in a televised bout at the Lime Grove Baths London, in the heart of Dale Martin territory. McManus, undefeated on television, came in for a shock when he found that he could neither pin nor knock out the Yorkshireman.
The result, a disqualification for a frantic McManus, became the subject of rumour and speculation for the next forty odd years. That was until Peter revealed the truth about what had actually happened in a story that can be read elsewhere in Wrestling Heritage.
Preston’s subsequent televised giant killing feats over The Wildman of Borneo, Ezzard Hart and Souris Tsickrikas made him a main eventer througout the north, his business commitments preventing regular commitments on a national basis.
Alas, it all came to nothing, and although continuing to wrestle until the mid 1970s Peter Preston’s career went into decline in the late 1960s. Again, speculation was rife, but again the reason for his decline can be read in our feature.
A televised straight falls loss to veteran Les Kellett in July 1975 clearly demonstrated that the career of Peter Preston had turned full circle.
21st century Peter Preston is back to canvas as a talented artist - with an outstanding body of work as exemplified here.
Read our extended tribute: Slayer of Giants
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Peter Preston Tells All about the McManus Bout
Seventeen stones of pure muscle and standing 6 feet 3 inches tall Johannesburg's Corrie Pretorius came to Britain in 1952 to compete in the Mr Universe contest in London. Pretorius came first in the class 1 competition, with Britain's Arnold Dyson runner up. Following the competition he took to Britain's wrestling rings and remained in the country until the end of the year. Despite his unquestionable physical presence Pretorius was not given an easy ride, going down to Britain's best, including Dai Sullivan, Charlie Scott, Mike Marino, and Dave Armstrong.
Born in Yugoslavia a couple of years after the end of the second world war Milan Prica and his brother moved to the UK as teenagers.
They settled in Leeds and having some amateur experience Milan made contact with Ron Farrar and Al Marshall, owners of Ace Sports Promotions. Al Marshall trained Milan in the ways of the professional world and he eventually made his pro debut, many of those early contests being in Ace Promotions shows.
Al remembers Milan as a good, clean wrestler. Ron recalled Milan's attempts to introduce comedy into his bouts, not always with success!
One of the few who usually wrestled barefoot Milan Prica remained a regular worker throughout the north and was always popular with fans.
Croydon's Frankie Price was an element of London wrestling in the 1950s and 1960s for whom we feel guilty for not knowing more.
Not only was he an active wrestler he was also an independent promoter and trainer of the 1960s, responsible for bringing numerous youngsters into the business.
Frankie promoted under the banner of Premier Promotions, a member of the British Wrestling Federation.
On the left with a headlock on Dangerous Danny Lynch and on the right surfboarding Bill Tunney.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Men In Suits
Soldier Boy Steve Prince squeezes into the Heritage years, joining the professional circuit in the late 1980s, and wrestling occasionally as we add his entry to the A-Z in 2011.
Born in Plymouth Steve appeared on television (using the name Black Prince) in March 1985, knocked out by Dave Finlay (see photo right).
Steve adopted the name The Black Prince, a barefooted martial arts expert dressed in black, challenging his opponent (a la Kendo) with his sword as part of the pre bout rituals.
Well known as part of the "Task Force One" tag team with Vic Powers. Now lives in Warrington, Cheshire.
Italian Nicolas Priore was a visitor to Britain during the 1960s and 1970s. A middleweight when he arrived in 1962 he filled out a decade later, but the increased poundage failed to prevent a Royal Albert Hall loss to Brian Maxine in October 1971.