Rule-bending Anglo-Hawaiian globetrotting super-heavyweight, 6’7” 30 stone Hawaiian Champion Curtis Iaukea (pronounced ‘E-U-Kowa’) had the accolade of being introduced from the ring during a tv bill when he first arrived in the UK in October 1966, having recently dropped his U.S. Heavyweight championship to Killer Kowalski at Madison Square Garden.
The Prince was seen very briefly in televised action at the end of that month against Johnny Yearsley. Feuded in UK with the Outlaw. In spite of his bulk seemed often to exit the ring horizontally on a stretcher. Failed to show for a promised return tour.
Went on to lose his Hawaiian Championship to Peter Fanene Maivia. However, in Melbourne in 1970 he defeated Billy Robinson for a version of a world title. Heritage stalwart John Shelvey, an authority on Australian wrestling, provides detail:
"This was the World Championship Wrestling Belt (Australian version) that was initially held by Killer Kowalski at the very birth of that promotion. It was said that Kowalski had beaten Ed. Carpentier (true) for the belt (false as the belt couldn't change hands on a disqualification and that was how Kowalski had won a bout with the Frenchman). However, it was a semi legitimate way of bringing a 'World Title' to Australia if you sort of screwed your eyes up tight and avoided asking too many questions!"
Prince Curtis Iaukea passed away on Saturday 4th December, 2010, in Honolulu. He was 73 years old.
West German heavyweight champion whose first claim to fame in the UK was the unfortunate fifties hospitalization of Gwyn Davies.
Later achieved the accolade of numbering amongst the lucky 14 wrestlers to appear on the first Royal Show in front of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1963, going down by the odd fall in three to Dazzler Joe Cornelius.
He had been captured as a teenager in Normandy during the Second World War and subsequently spent time as a prisoner of War near on.
Regular winner of West German tournaments on his home territory.
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The face of the handsome visiting American star, Dwight J. Ingleburgh, appeared on posters throughout the country in a career spanning three decades. It seemed so exotic to have this big star from New Jersey visit our small public halls, corn exchanges and social clubs.
The reality was less glamorous.
Dwight J. was, in fact, known to friends and family as Sam Betts, and came from the exotic east, Barnsley. That should take nothing away from this hard working and entertaining wrestler who made a substantial contribution to three decades of wrestling.
If fans felt all the better for believing he was a visiting American star then no harm was done. Sam, or Dwight, wrestled mainly for the independent promoters from the 1950s until the 1970s.
Charlie Glover trained him in the ways of the ring, and did the job well as Dwight went on to wrestle throughout Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and India. When Sam began wrestling Charlie gave him the name Al Sammy. He is seen in action against the legendary Indian champion Dara Singh.
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Syd Ingleson was Principal of the Sydenham Physical Culture Club in his home town of Bradford and mostly celebrated for his success as a physical cultural.
That success reached a climax with winning the 1933 Mr Britain competition outright.
In 1934 he began wrestling professionally, mostly around northern England against the likes of Fred Unwin and Jack Alker. His wrestling career seems to have lasted only a few years and we have no reports following the outbreak of war in 1939.
Bouts involving this 1971 Japanese visitor began in such good humour.
The Japanese heavyweight would offer a half smile before bowing deeply to the audience, his opponent, and seemingly anything that moved.
The first round or two were usually fought within the rules, with the obligatory pauses for the occasional bow. T
he initial signs of irritation, when things were not going the Japanese wrestler’s way, would be the unleashing of a flurry of chops.
Their force stopped his opponent in his stride, temporarily at least, but when they weren’t enough Mitsu Inoue would discard the rules and use any tactic to win.
In his 1971 Royal Albert Hall bout against Steve Veidor he dragged the Cheshire heavyweight from the ring to start a rare ringside brawl amongst the fans.
Although in his early twenties when he came to Britain, as part of his pro wrestling training, Mitsu went on to a long and successful career in his native Japan.
We have records of Dave Ireland working for independent promoters between 1958 and 1965.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
One of the true pioneers of all-in wrestling William Welsh was the Iron Duke and was born in London in 1901 to a family of Irish heritage. His father had begun working life as a labourer but by the time of William's birth was working as a crane driver.
William Welsh went on to work in London's Surrey Docks and joined the merchant navy in 1921, serving on the battleship Iron Duke, and later the Beltana (right).
It was from the Iron Duke that he took his fighting name. It was a name which reports suggest suited a no-nonsense rugged style. In a contest against Francis St Clair Gregory it was reported, “The Iron Duke opened with heavy punching and the second round was only half through when the Cornishman was beaten to the mat with blows on the back of his neck. He was apparently dazed and the referee counted him out.”
That was not the whole story, however, and there are reports of the Iron Duke wrestling skilfully and within the rules.
William Welsh married Elizabeth Philps in 1928 in Bethnal Green and the couple had three children, James Terrance and Leonard.
William Welsh died on 15th September 1970. He is one of our Top Wrestlers of the 1930s.
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