T: Taylor - Thomas
Heavyweight Bob Taylor was a well known and popular wrestler of the late 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, twenty odd years during which his frequent travels possibly made him better known on continental Europe than in the United Kingdom.
He was a regular worker in France, Germany and Austria, but did travel further afield to India. Turned professional with a draw against Tommy Milo after ten years in the amateur ranks.
He continued working until the 1970s, by now for the independent promoters and on occasions donning a mask, one of the many White Angels to bring rough justice to our rings.
Bob made it to the dizzy heights of the front cover of The Wrestler magazine in August 1964, dropkicking Johnny Apollo (photo right). Bob was also one of the numerous White Angels to bring rough justice to our rings.
Dave Taylor was one of the last great British heavyweights. Not surprising, really, as the grappling game was in his veins, being the son of the great Eric Taylor. Dave "Rocky"Taylor joined the professional ranks in the mid 1970s, making his television debut in 1975 against Paul Mitchell.
Shortly afterwards he moved across to the independents which meant lack of further television exposure until 1986 when he returned to the screen as a much more muscular and powerful wrestler than previously. With British wrestling in decline Dave worked regularly in Germany, though this didn't prevent him twice holding the British heavyweight title (All Star Promotions version).
In the mid 1990s Dave went to the USA, forming a long running partnership with fellow Brit Steve Regal. At the time of writing, 2010, Dave is still wrestling and training newcomers to the business. As a footnote we can report that Dave's generation did not signal the end of the Taylor wrestling dynasty as his daughter, Donna, has continued the family tradition.
There were wrestlers and there were wrestler’s wrestlers. These were the men admired by their colleagues and eagerly observed for their mastery of the art of wrestling. The skilled craftsman of the mat, Eric Taylor, fell into the latter category. He was a master of balance and leverage, and considered by many to be the perfect wrestler. He showed complete dedication to the sport of wrestling and frequently claimed that he was still learning.
"He knew all the holds and was a clever wrestler; he was a master of submissions," according to fellow heavyweight and admirer Dwight J. Ingebergh.
Following the creation of Joint Promotions and inauguration of nationally recognised champions Eric Taylor was anointed the first British Heavy Middleweight Champion. He dominated the division for the following thirteen years, though the last few years were marred by fans’ justified criticism that he was insufficiently active for a champion.
Towards the end of his career Eric left Joint Promotions and turned to the independents where he not only wrestled but formed a very reputable promotional business with Johnny Allan, A&T Promotions. Occasionally Eric would pull on a hood as The Outlaw. Pictured with a chin hold on Les Kellett.
The lesser known of our Jack Taylor collection in professional circles but one of Britain's finest amateurs and an influential man in professional circles.
Jack came from the famous Bradford dynasty, being the cousin of Heavy middleweight professional champion Eric Taylor, son of the 1938 British featherweight champion Tom Taylor and nephew of Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games competitor Joe Taylor. Jack too had an equally illustrious amateur career and lower profile professional career.
Jack won the British amateur lightweight title in 1956 and represented Britain in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Jack won one of his three matches, returning home with honour but without honours. Jack had only a short lived professional career, but was the opponent for Jeff Kaye when he made his paid debut.
During his two years National Service Jack served as a physical training instructor in the army. A bricklayer by trade (in later life he kept fit by climbing scaffold using only his hands) Jack trained many amateurs and aspiring professionals at the Leeds Athletic Institute, being responsible for the development of many young wrestlers of the 1960s and 1970s. Al Marshall told us that when Cyril Knowles offered him his chance in the pro ring he was certain that Cyril was greatly influenced by the knowledge he had been trained by Jack Taylor. Jack is photographed with his daughter.
Jack Taylor died, aged 83, on 7th October, 2015.
The name Jack Taylor is something of an enigma amongst British wrestling fans. For those who confined their supporting to the tv screens or Joint Promotion hallsthe man is something of an unknown quantity. Followers of the independent circuit consider him one of the post war legends.
Accrington born, yet based in Leicestershire for most of his life, Taylor was one of the most prominent of the independent promoters of the sixties and seventies, and he continued promoting until the beginning of the twenty first century.
British and European welterweight champion of the independent halls for many years it was as a promoter that Jack Taylor made his greatest mark, creating many of the names that can be read about elsewhere on this site.
Wrestling historian Mike Hallinan of the All In Wrestling website wrote:
A great amateur wrestler, pro wrestler, and teacher of the sport, he also gave work to many hundreds of wrestlers as a promoter. When Bert Assirati returned from his three year tour of the Far East, India, Pakistan, and South Africa he was faced with a huge tax bill, and with Joint Promotions not wishing to use him was forced to work for the independents. To supplement his income he decided to start his own promotions, and a chance meeting with Jack Taylor led to them forming ASTA promotions. They put on shows the length and breadth of the country, using top quality wrestlers, with Assirati as top of the bill. The match that drew the largest crowds were the matches between Assirati and the Polish champion Eugene Stezycki, which always ended in a blood bath. Other great matches pitted Assirati against Bill Benny, Ed Bright, Alec Nuttall, Charlie Scott, Prince Kumali, Ernst Schmidt, Don Steadman, Johnny Peters, Jan Blears, Billy Joyce etc....
Jack was a great charity man always giving his time for great causes, and had a special bond with elderly people. We corresponded over the last decade and he was helpful with information on my biography of Assirati whom he regarded as one of the six greatest wrestlers of all time. We used to meet up at the Southern Reunion at Kent and along with Eddie Capelli, Angelo Papini, Ron Harrison, Prince Kumali etc we used to sit down and have a long chat about glory days of big time wrestling. While promoting in Leicester Square, London, he was approached by associates of the Kray Gang and told to pay protection money, but he laughed this off, and never paid any money.
He gave his life to wrestling, and I hope all those associated with the business will always remember him for the large contribution he made. Hopefully a memorial silver cup will be awarded in his name every year to the person who has advanced the sport over the last twelve months the most.
The Wrestling World salutes you Jack.
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Did you see Michael Taylor?
There'll be no uncertainty; if you saw him you will remember.
We have two memories of him, one in the ring and one outside. We first came across the self styled Sheik (the title was allegedly bestowed by one of his yoga teachers) when he appeared on the Dave Allen chat show. He demonstrated pushing knitting needles into one cheek and out though the other cheek without bleeding. As a follow up he smashed and ate a glass bottle! He explained these feats were possible through meditation, which enabled him to withstand intense pain, a useful attribute for a wrestler.
Mind you, when we next saw Michael Taylor, in the ring on an independent show at Blackburn, he was fairly ordinary after dispensing of his costume and allowing a couple of members of the audience stand on his chest as he lay on a bed of nails. Whether the nails were rubber, the men were hollow, or there was some truth in what Michael claimed we shall never know. The programme on the left shows Michael facing tv favourite Ian Gilmour, who he defeated by two falls to one. When not wrestling or performing any of these stunts Michael could often be seen eating fire, juggling, stilt walking or displaying various other talents as an entertainer up to his death in April, 2011.
Another Taylor, this time from the Lancashire side of the Pennines. Our memories of Ray go back to the mid 1960s when he never failed to please, be it in skilfull contests against Danny Flynn or rugged affairs against villains such as Killer Ken Davies.
Young Raymond, that was the name on the posters in the sixties, was born in the small Lancashire textile town of Accrington, famed for its football club, the "Accrington Pals," and a family of wrestling brothers. Ray Taylor was the younger brother of Accrington's Jack Taylor; a third brother, Doug, was referee and office manager for Jack Taylor Promotions.
Ray was a youngster when older brother Jack moved away from Accrington to pursue his wrestling career from his new home in Langley Mills, Nottinghamshire. One night Jack took ten year old Ray along to the Victoria Baths, Nottingham. Ray was smitten. Like so many Heritage readers he still has vivid memories of the first time he watched a live professional wrestling show. "The main bout was Gentleman Jim Lewis versus the Farmers Boy. Little did I know one day I would have the pleasure of wresting Jim at Granby Halls, Leicester one of the greatest venues in England." The Granby Halls was a huge, cavernous hall which fans packed out every Saturday night during the 1960s. It was to remain Ray's favourite venue.
In his early teens Ray started working on a farm when not at school, hence the Farmer Raymond and Farmers Boy names. Leaving school when he was fifteen he went to work down the coal mines. During those teenagers the thought of becoming a wrestler could not be resisted. It wasn't until he was twenty that brother Jack began to teach him the ropes "It was the harshest punishment I've ever endured." His professional debut was against a man with a reputation for hardness, Killer ken Davies. "He hit me from pillar to post i still have the bruises to prove it, A nicer guy you could never wish to meet outside the ring, I wrestled him many times after but I always gave as much as I got." Other great matches remembered by Ray include those with Butcher Goodman and Cyril Knowles, "I wrestled Cyril several times but I was never in the same league."
Ray supplemented his wrestling earnings as a HGV driver for a local milk depot. 7.00 am starts didn'c come easy having arrived home from a wrestling engagement at any time up to 3.00 am. Working for Jack (as well as other independent promoters) meant that Ray had to make himself available for work just about anywhere in the country.
It was hard work, but rewarded with many happy memories, and Ray was generous with his compliments for those he worked with, mentioning particular admiration for Gentleman Jim Lewis, Mick Collins, Al Marquette, Ken Davies, Randolf Turpin, Eric Sands, Dominic Pye, Jim Green, and the list goes on.
Ray Taylor continues to live in the Lancashire town of Accrington, a lifetime supporter of Accrington Stanley Football Club. Come on Th' Owd Reds!
Yes there was a Rocky before the great Dave Taylor.
This Rocky Taylor was a Manchester based wrestler working for the independent promoters in the north during the late 1950s.
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Yes, another one.
These Taylor's are like buses and once one arrives they just keep coming! Back across the Pennines to the Yorkshire Taylor clan.
Steve was a very promising light heavyweight who displayed all the characteristics of the Taylor family, sadly nearing the end of the Mountevans wrestling era.
Had British style wrestling continued to flourish the stylish Steve Taylor would have been destined to become one of the great heavyweights of the early twenty-first century.
Steve Taylor is the older brother of Dave and eldest son of Eric, the long standing British champion.
In 2011 Steve was involved in the pilot of a channel 4 sitcom, "Walk Like A Panther," alongside fellow ex wrestlers Al Marshall, Mark Rocco, Drew McDonald, and Harry Monk.
We are seeking information on Yorkshire heavyweight Morris Terry, a trainee of George de Relwyskow.
The poster shows him wrestling at Bridlington against top heavyweight Vic Hessle.
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The Hungarian born Thesz arrived in Britain to face his first challenger, Dara Singh on 11th December, 1957, and was to stay the best part of three months. Mystery surrounds the origin of the belt that he defended as Thesz had already lost the title before leaving American shores! Wrestling promoters wouldn't allow such a small detail to get in their way.
During this first match Thesz was challenged by British heavyweight Bert Assirati, a futile challenge as Bert was unlikely to ever again be employed by Joint Promotions.
Fans were disappointed when Lou Thesz's tour was shortened in February, 1958, when the illness of his wife meant that he had to return home
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Tall, slim and wearing his habitual white trunks Dundee's Lee Thomas quickly became one of the most popular Northern middleweights of the late sixties and early seventies.
A bodybuilder in his youth before finding an interest in wrestling. Lee turned professional in 1967 and quickly established himself throughout the north of England and Scotland.
Lee was a fast and skilful wrestler who combined agility, acrobatic flair and wrestling skill. His flying body scissors and drop kicks were a delight to the fans.
He proved a real contrast to those other Scottish middleweights, the rough hard man, Chic Purvey, and the dour Ted Hannon. Seemed at ease with his frequent tag partner George Kidd, who was also from Dundee. In one of his more than half a dozen televised contests Lee partnered George Kidd and defeated Black Jack Mullingan and Peter Kaye.
“The Cockney Kid” weighed around 13-14 stones and was a prolific worker in the 1940s and 1950s. So much so that we feel guilty for not knowing more.
In the photo he is shown in action (on the right) with Eddie Capelli.
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