Those old enough to have enjoyed attending live events in the fifties, sixties and seventies know very well that the promoters were skilfull in assembling balanced wrestling bills that would include at least one technical contest, a couple of matches with the rule-bending no-gooders we loved to jeer, and often a light hearted humorous match.
Nevertheless, results of some of those matches were often just too predictable for the regular fans. We enjoyed Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Vic Faulkner, Dominic Pye and other main eventers but too frequently we knew at the outset how the match would develop and the inevitable result.
There were exceptions, and none more so than when Peter Preston was one of the contestants.
We could predict the tireless energy he put into every bout, and the strutting arrogance that annoyed us so much, but the final outcome? No. Probabaly more so than any other wrestler when Peter entered the ring we could not predict the winner.
Were the fans at Bradford and Blackburn expecting to see Peter's hand raised in victory when he opposed Jackie Pallo in their hall? We doubt it. Or the screaming hordes at Liverpool Stadium when he beat Les Kellett? Fans at Newcastle must have been astounded when even George Kidd went down to Peter.
Then there was the biggest upset of all time. The defeat of Mick McManus on television. That result wasn't just a shock to the fans! It was the talk of the dressing rooms for months to follow. Eddie Rose told us,
Had Peter consistently beaten all the big names and those in the championship queue behind them he would be celebrated today as one of the greatest of all time. Unfortunately for him that was not the case and his record was a mixture of outstanding victories in juxtaposition with losses against midcarders of quality but lacking distinction.
It was this unpredictability that made Peter one of the most eagerly anticipated wrestlers to appear in any hall, with an audible shout of approval when the MC announced his appearance on the following bill.
There were some aspects of predictability about a Peter Preston bout. We knew that whatever the outcome Peter would be a pocket dynmao bulldozing his way around the ring.
Few, if any, could deliver a forearm smash the Peter Preston way. One forearm, two, yet a third followed by a swift leg snatch for a folding press and the pinning of his opponents shoulders for the count of three.
The unyielding attitude he displayed in the ring was a reflection of Peter's attitutde towards lfe. Peter believed, and still does, that if anyone wants to achieve something it's up to them, and them alone, to get on with it and make it happen. Maybe that's partly a result of Peter's youth. The death of his mother in his teens was a huge loss and hardened the youngster to take responsibility for himself.
By the age of seventeen he was renting his own house, serving an apprenticeship, and playing rugby for Dewsbury Celtic Rugby Club. A friend asked him to join him in his amateur wrestling classes. Peter went along to the Hilltop Club, enjoyed himself, and from then on paid his 1/6 a week to learn how to wrestle.
He was a good learner, only losing in the northern area championships when he faced Wigan's Billy Chambers, known to professional wrestling fans as Jack Fallon.
Former heavyweight champion Ernest Baldwin took note of the youngster and invited him along to his gymnasium above the Old White Bear Public House in Tingley.
When Peter was ready for his first professional bout it was Bradford promoter Norman Morrell that gave him his chance, facing Newcastle's Frank Robb in Edinburgh.
Morrell was to remain a signifcant figure in Peter's career for many years, not that the youngster was aware the promoter was taking an interest in him.
During the early 1960s Peter gained regular work throughout the north and Scotland, but he could not travel too far from his Bradford base because of commitments to his full time work in the construction business he had by then set up. Best Wryton, Relwyskow Green and Morrell Beresford each gave work to the irrepresible youngster, facing opponents such as Jeff Kaye, Mike Bennett, Terry Jowett, Bob Steele and Adrian Street.
We first saw him in action in 1965. In those early days his bustling style gave an edge of excitement to his bouts. We liked him, but there was nothing that made him stand out from the crowd.
Certainly nothing that hinted at the unprecedented events of 14th January 1967. That was the day Mick McManus lost on television for the first time, and he lost to Peter Preston. Following years of rumour and speculation Peter Preston told his story about what really happened in Peter Preston Tells All.
Suffice to say that that fateful day changed Peter's life.
Forty years on....
Peter Preston revealed what really happened the day he became the first man to beat Mick McManus on television...
More than forty years after the black and white images flickered across the nation's television screens one of the century's most memorable bouts is still avidly discussed by British wrestling fans.
Saturday 14th January, 1967 was the day when television viewers witnessed David actually beating Goliath. A national hero was born as Peter Preston, aggressive from the start, and taking an opening fall in the second round, uncompromisingly defeated the seemingly undefeatable Mick McManus. A disqualification win maybe, but decisive enough for the millions that witnessed the spectacle as McManus seemingly chose disqualification as the means of avoiding an even greater humiliation.
At the time it was the stuff of legends, and in the years that followed it became the stuff of rumour, conjecture and speculation. And now the rumour, conjecture and speculation has come to an end, because the man who defeated Mick McManus on television has chosen to tell Wrestling Heritage readers what really did happen.