R: Regal - Renton
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
See the entry for Steve Regal
Codsall is a village in the county of Stafford and it’s most famous son is Darren Matthews, known to British fans of the 1980s as Steve Regal and internationally as William Regal. He is one of the few to gain long term substantial success in the United States. Steve learned the business under the guidance of Blackpool wrestler and promoter Bobby Barron, working around the holiday camps, fairground booths and small halls of northern England. They were busy days and he gained a great deal of experience in a short time.
Signed up by Max Crabtree to work for Joint Promotions Steve is well remembered in Britain for his tag pairing with Robbie Brookside. Adorning our television screens in 1986 Steve came in at the tail end of televised British wrestling and the Heritage years. A determined success seeker we are pleased to include Steve in our Heritage tributes, disappointed only that the state of British wrestling meant he was forced to find fame elsewhere. As wrestling went into near terminal decline in the UK Steve worked on mainland Europe and in 1993 crossed the Atlantic to become one of the top performers for all the major US promotions, transforming into William Regal and Lord Steven Regal on the way. His story can be read in full in "Walking the Golden Mile."
There was an active wrestling scene in the east of England around 1970. Bill and Ron Clarke, Brian Trevors, John L Hagar and dozens of other local wrestlers entertained wrestling enthusiasts on a regular basis. This was the environment that enthused a young twenty year old to get involved in the sport. All that and encouragement from his father in law who wrestled locally as Gypsy Bonito and taught him the rudiments of the business. Danny Regan turned professional in 1971. For fourteen years he entertained the fans, working mostly for Le Royale Promotions. Danny enjoyed his time in the business and told us that Downham Market Town Hall was the best of the lot!
Sean Regan (Zebra Kid)
When we think of rugby league players turned wrestler earthy Yorkshire miner types instantly spring to mind. Here we have the language-teaching Ulsterman from Derry who was born in 1936 and moved to London 1946. Sean was born Gerry Murphy and overcame all kinds of barriers to become a teacher in a challenging London school.
That was the day job, but in the evening Mr Murphy became the stylish heavyweight wrestler Sean Regan. He kept the two lives separate and no one at the school knew of his other life. That was until the end of 1964. In September he appeared on television and defeated Gorilla Don Mendoza. A few weeks later he faced the Russian Yuri Borienko on tv.
“Gerry’s big secret is out” was the headline of the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Sketch opted for “After reading ‘riting and ‘rithmetic Sir gives a lesson in rought ‘restling.” The national press revealed that Mr Murphy of St Wilfird’s Schoo was leading a double life. It’s just as well the Head Teacher rejected Sean’s offer to give up wrestling or the nation’s television viewers would have been deprived of more than twenty-five appearances against top men that included Danny Lynch, Bruno Elrington, Ian Campbell and Tibor Szakacs.
Wrestling was most definitely a means to en end. The money he was earning through wrestling at the time was to be used to pay for further studies and a Masters Degree.
Sean defeated Dr Timmy Geoghegan for the Irish Heavyweight Championship in Belfast only to lose the belt to his tag partner Pat Barratt and then reclaim it for a run through the seventies.
His part-time wrestling career fizzled out at the end of the 1970s behind a mask as a latter day Zebra Kid, quite possibly because his promotion to a Deputy Headship was considered a conflict of roles by the school’s Governors.
Sean’s Indian Death Lock was one of the great special holds in its day, and had Kendo Nagasaki submitting in the sixties at the Royal Albert Hall.
He was a regular visitor to German and Austrian rings during his summer holidays to wrestle in their international tournaments. He also worked in British Columbia, Canada, during the early months of 1973, temporarily leaving teaching. He was to return and become Head Teacher of a school in Lancashire. Sean was also one of the eleven recording stars that sang "Tiptoe Through The Tulips".
An accomplished wrestler who we enjoyed at the time, had considerable success at an international level but we can’t help having a feeling of unfulfilled potential.
As for those academic aspirations. Sean went on tobe awarded several university degrees, a Doctorate of Philosophy and write a numerous books. The boy didn’t do too badly.
French welterweight spent a week or so in Britain during the winter of 1958-59. Opponents included Mick McManus, Bert Royal, Jack Dempsey and a Royal Albert Hall defeat by Johnny Kwango.
Read our extended tribute: Top Wrestlers of the 1930s – Karl Reginsky
Related article: On The Trail of Karl Reginsky on www.wrestlingheritage.com
Leigh's Jim Reid didn't achieve the fame of his older brother, Joe, and his career did not extend so long. He was, nonetheless, a genuine Lancashire catch wrestler who continued to work the professional rings of northern England from 1935 until around 1950.
Read our extended tribute: Top Wrestlers of the 1930s: Joe Reid
See the entry for Mighty Chang
Billed as a heavyweight from Munich, Germany, Reiss visited Britain in 1947 and again in the 1950s, unsuccessfully challenging Frank Sexton for a version of the World Heavyweight Championship in 1954. Faced many of Britain's top heavyweights, and in most cases dutifully went down to them.
Curly haired Tony Renaldo emerged from the Second World War, in which he was captured and held as a prisoner of war, to become one of the promising post war middleweights. A match between Tony and Archer O’Brien at Plymouth in 1949 was reported to have been “The most skilful fight of the evening.” By 1959 he had clearly put on a few pounds, billed as Heavyweight Champion of Italy against Hans Streiger.
We'd like to know what became of him.
There have been various Farmer's Boys over the years (George and Harry Broadfield, Pete Ross, Greg Valentine, Jeff Hunt) but none to match the sheer presence of Gordon Renton, only 5'9" tall but weighing well above twenty stones. Gordon was born in Scotland but lived much of his life in Catterick village, North Yorkshire. He came from an agricultural family and worked on the land as a youth, hence the name. Gordon was a 1970s villain around Britain and overseas, wrestling in Europe and Pakistan often in the unenviable role of enhancing the reputations of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Fans would jeer as The Farmer's Boy entered the ring resplendent in his cape with the bull's head motif on the back. Outside of the ring he was a fanatical soccer fan, working behind the scenes for Northallerton Football Club and supporting Sunderland, filling his home with soccer memorabilia. Farmer's Boy Gordon Renton died on 27th April, 2008.