R: Rawlinson - Rees
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Surely a hero of all us ageing wrestling fans? Do we sympathise or do we celebrate a man who lived his dream? Keith Rawlinson was a Burnley schoolteacher who had his ambition fulfilled in a British television programme by training as a professional wrestler. Months of training from Sid Cooper and Peter Kaye were not enough to save Keith from a good hiding from one of the hardest of the 1970s wrestlers, John Naylor. Keith retired at the end of the fourth round, never to set foot in the wrestling ring again. If you're reading this Keith, do get in touch and tell us your story.
Gorilla Reg Ray
Gorilla Reg, the nickname was hardly a surprise in view of his abundance of body hair, was, in his prime, one of the best workers on the British wrestling circuit.
He was, said Eddie Rose, “a natural villain,” and “never took part in a bad bout,” according to Dennis Lord. We are told by a relative, and family historian, that one of Reg's ancestors was Sir Christopher Wray, Lord Chief Justice under Elizabeth the First, who signed Mary Queen of Scots death warrant. A villain of the ring maybe, but Reg was never that dangerous!
Turning professional shortly after the war Reg was a regular on the Joint Promotion circuit following their establishment in 1952. This brought him into regular combat with the top men of the day, holding his own with the likes of Jack Dempsey, Eric Taylor, Alan Colbeck, Bert Royal, Vic Faulkner and Cliff Beaumont. When ITV began to televise wrestling Gorilla Reg was one of the first to receive nationwide attention, wrestling Chic Purvey at the Lime Grove Baths on 17th April, 1956. Further televised contests followed against Tug Holton and Cyril Knowles,
Like many others Reg chose to leave Joint Promotions in 1962 and flirted with the independents, most notably for Don Robinson, Cyril Knowles, Brian Trevors and Evan Treharne. The following year he returned to Joint Promotions, making his final television appearance on 29th January, 1966, against the visiting Greek, El Greco. Gorilla Reg lost that match due to disqualification, which we suppose is something of a tribute to one of the great villains.
In the second half of the 1960s Reg returned to work for the independent promoters, mainly for Cyril Knowles. Reg and Cyril were both now in the twilight years of their long wrestling careers, and the two opposed each other on many, some would say too many, occasions. The photo above shows Gorilla Reg Ray about to post Cyril Knowles.
A tremendous villain, a huge contributor to everything that made wrestling great, fondly remembered by fans and wrestlers. His one fault, and one that he shared with so many others, was that of wrestling well beyond his prime.
See the entry for Ray Taylor
Read our extended tribute in Personality Parade – The Belfast Bulldog
See the entry for Billy Sigworth
See the entries for Allan J. Batt and Al Tarzo
Read our extended tribute Top Wrestlers of the 1930s – Charlie Glover
In September 1962, following in the footsteps of the original Chief Thunderbird and Billy Two Rivers, came another native American. Entering the ring, wearing the standard native American gear, New Mexico’s Chief Red Eagle, arrived in the UK following combat in Australia and the Far East.
Billed in Britain as a Ukrainian with a Polish mother, Red Ivan was brought in as cannon fodder for Big Daddy in one of the more pitiful storylines that the latter days of British wrestling had to offer. Ivan appeared on television and vastly outweighed his first opponent Andy Blair. A further demolition job ensued on Burly Barry Douglas, who again gave away over two stones in weight. Just when Red Ivan seemed to be establishing his reputation as a formidable likely opponent for full blown British heavies such as Davies or Roach or Bartelli he was required to succumb most unbelievably to the out of condition “Mams and Dads Favourite”. Fans were left wondering about what might have been, and a good showman and fine athlete let his entire reputation go up in smithereens. SaxonWolf has told us "Red Ivan was Richard Krupa, who wrestled under various names, such as Vladimir Krupoff, a Canadian with Russian born parents who had begun his wrestling career for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling. SaxonWolf has told us "Red Ivan was Richard Krupa, who wrestled under various names, such as Vladimir Krupoff, a Canadian with Russian born parents who had begun his wrestling career for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling.
See the entry for Scrubber Daly
See the entry for Bob Francini
See the entry for Bob Francini
See the entry for Ted Heath
See the entry for Con Balassis
To be added soon
See the entry for Max Raeger