It is now fifty years since the villainous German Dr Adolf Kaiser stomped his way around British rings. We have no personal memories of his encounters, mostly in southern England against top class opposition such as Gordon Nelson, Georges Gordienko and a Royal Albert Hall loss to Jerry DeJager. We have been told by those that did know him that he was an aggressive wrestler who used his not inconsiderable strength to work over his opponents physically and work up the ringsiders mentally.
Wrestling Heritage reader Pantaleon Manlapig has provided details of the monocled stereotypical German. He was in fact a Hungarian, born on 9th February, 1921, by the name of Hans Waldherr. Hans grew up in 'vienna and was later a Austrian citizen. Normally he was billed as "Würger aus Wien" (Strangler from Vienna).
He also used the moniker Dr. Adolph Kaiser in Vienna for George "Schurl" Blemenschützs famous Heumarkt tournament. Later he was a renowned Actor playing in numerous movies and in many theatres. He and his wife also owned the "Winterhuder Bierstube" in Hamburg.
Adolf Kaiser was immortalised in oil by renowned artist and wrestling fan Peter Blake in a painting housed in the Southbank Centre, London.
Hamburg's Peter Kaiser was the nephew of the famous German wrestler and promoter Gustl kaiser. Peter made two visits of around a month to Britain, mainly northern England, in the spring and autumn of 1960. Opposition was first class: Bill Howes, Gordon Nelson, Ray Apollon, but results were less than impressive. Peter kaiser passed away on 25th October, 1985.
Sergei Kalmikoff was known as the “Siberian Cave Man” and wrestled in the United States in the early 1930s. Atholl Oakeley met the giant when he travelled to the United States in 1932.
Oakeley was apparently impressed by what he saw and the Russian wild man promised to visit Britain and work for the Briton, which he did. Oakeley claimed Kalmikoff stood over seven feet tall, but whilst big this does seem to be another of Oakeley's wild exaggerations.
When he came to Britain as part of the 1930s revival Kalmikoff drew large crowds fighting the likes of King Curtis and other Oakeley men.
There are reports that the name Sergei Kalmikoff was used post war by the Dutch heavyweight, Hektor Van Mullen, usually known as Le Grand Vladimir.
Most readers with memories of Kamikaze probably recall the man in the striking, somewhat scary, masks who faced Jimmy Breaks and Tally Ho Kaye in 1981 and 1982.
We have been told Ian Gilmour was beneath the hood but have no confirmation of this and know that many wrestlers have used the gimmick through the years.
Our earliest memories of Kamikaze were on the independent bills of the 1960s. The masked man proclaimed "Death before dishonour," but even that was not enough to save him from occasional losses. Unlike most masked men he did not state that he would unmask if beaten, which was just as well, the justification being that his face was so hideously disfigured due to burns sustained in the Korean war that he could never reveal his face.
In March 1964 the middleweight Kamikaze gave away over a stone in weight when he tried unsuccessfully to defeat and unmask the villainous Doctor Death at the Edmonton Granada Cinema. Regular under the mask for the 1960s independents was Eddie Stratton. Eddie was the real deal as far as the martial arts were concerned. He was a British aikido teacher and the founder of Yoshinkan UK, and the Shudokan Institute of Aikido International.
We offer yet another Kamikaze, and this one we believe to have been the original. Beginning a five year masked career around 1960 this masked man was revealed as a very famous internationally renowned wrestler when unmasked by Conde Maximilian. Take a look at the Top 20 Masked Men in Features to discover his identity.
Under the hood at various times were Bob Anthony, Al Miquet, Eric Taylor, Tug Wilson, Bob Anthony, John Foley, Maurice Hunter, Ray Crawley, Ian Gilmour and undoubtedly various others. First to grab the name was arguably a Continental star active for five years in Spain before being unmasked in July 1965 by Conde Maximilian. Beneath tha mask was the stylish Spaniard Modesto Aledo.
The name came from his Lithuanian grandparents. Vince Karalius was one of the biggest names in British rugby league during the 1950s and early 1960s, making twelve appearances for Great Britain. A ferocious, intimidating player he was known as “The Wild Bull of the Pampas.”
The one time St Helens rugby league forward was another who transferred from one rough sport to another; with a short career working mainly for Wryton Promotions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He was trained for the professional ring by his long time friend Ted Betley, the man who was also responsible for the early development of Dynamite Kid, Steve Wright and Young David.
Karalius and Betley were neighbours in the Isle of Man where they both moved with their families after retiring from their sporting activities.
When Ted died in 2001 Vince Karalius gave a heart-rending speech about his friend and was one of the pall bearers. Karalius passed away in December 2008, aged 76.