The enigmatic masked ceremonial sword bearer whose career is unravelled in the Shining Stars section.
Plagued by ear trouble following a June 1976 injury at the hands of Gwyn Davies at Belle Vue, Manchester, Nagasaki's on-off career is one of the most varied and interesting we discuss.
His contribution to British wrestling is still the subject of heated discussion amongst old time mat fans, who are still exploring his fleeting wrestling career under a different guise.
Top Masked Wrestlers' identities are revealed only in the Wrestling Heritage countdown entitled Hooded Heydays.
Read our extended tribute: Unravelling The Strings of the Mask
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Kendo's Theme Relaunched
Lloyd Ryan has relaunched Kendo's Theme - Kendo Nagasaki's original theme tune!
In 1975, Kendo Nagasaki was the most famous wrestler in history.
Kendo's theme (Kendo Nagasaki's theme tune) was originally released in 1975 and recieved an extensive amount of airplay as this was the first time in British wrestling history that a wrestler had an original record dedicated to him.
Kendo's Theme Reloaded is an updated version of the original. Original vinyl copies of Kendo's Theme are collectors items now and are not easy to get hold of!)
This is a great opportunity for old and new Kendo Nagasaki fans to purchase Kendo's Theme from iTunes.
With Kendo Nagasaki and King kendo now working for the independents Joint Promotions turned to plan C, Kendo Nagasaki MkII. It was a short lived plan, for this much lighter masked man had nothing in common with Kendo Nagasaki other than a name.
We have only eleven bouts on record, in a four week period from 22nd December 1979 until 18th January 1980. He failed to appear on at least five of those matches.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
Hungarian heavyweight visited during the winter of 1951-2, meeting the likes of Tony Mancelli, Milo Popocpolous, light heavyweight champion Sonny Wallis and going on to the inevitable loss to Bert Assirati.
Our efforts to uncover the background of this Eastern Bloc wrestler have proved futile and we remain uncertain of his credentials. The quality of opponents suggests he wasn't too bad!
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
This powerful heavyweight billed from Charlotte, North Carolina, was a familiar figure on the British wrestling circuit in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Not everything was quite as it seemed as Ramon Napolitano was actually an Englishman who had been born in London in February, 1928. When he was three years old Ramon's family emigrated to Australia, where he lived until just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939, when the family returned to London.
As a young teenager during the early 1940s Ray took an interest in wrestling, which had been very popular in Britain before the war. He was called up to the army in 1946, spending much of his time overseas in the Far East, Middle East, and Malta. It was whilst in the Far East that Ramon began wrestling professionally, using a pseudonym to protect his atatus as an amateur boxer. Ramon made his British debut in the early 1950s, though appearances were limited due to him serving in the Merchant Navy. In 1952 Ramon's travel bug took him to New York, in the country he was to call home.
With his wanderlust and family members still in Britain the old country was never too far away and Ramon returned to Britain in September, 1958 and remained throughout much of 1958 and 1959, loing to Gideon Gidea at the Royal Albert Hall in October, 1959. Ramon remained a familiar figure in British rings until 1966, our last recorded appearance being an appearance in the 1966 International Heavyweight Tournament at the Royal Albert Hall, eliminated by Judo Al Hayes. Ramon Napolitano was credited by Billy Two Rivers as the man who encouraged him to visit the UK.
We remember him as a fine heavyweight who tangled with the best. Elsewhere he remained a mid carder in America, wrestling as Tinker Todd, one time partner in the Kangaroos tag team as Ray St Clair and stereotypical British villain as Sir Oliver Winrush. Ramon retired from wrestling in 1972.
Ramon Napolitano, known here as Danny Knapp, passed away Sunday, July 14, 2013 in Winston-Salem.
We'll miss seeing him sit in his chair, with barking little dogs on his lap, at his feet and on his shoulders as Danny spun another yarn. We'll miss his stories and his irreverent sense of humor.
Born February 2, 1928, in Great Britain, Pawpaw served in the Seaforth Highlanders of the British Army in Korea, Manila, Jerusalem and locales in between. Danny came to the States and married Barbara Ruth Kennedy and had two children, Mark Knapp and Julie Helms.
He was an adventurer, world traveler, pugilist, pro-wrestler, fitness fanatic, creator of historical artifacts and raconteur. He could hold a grudge with people, yet opened his home and his heart to small animals – squirrels, raccoons, dogs, chickens -- you name it. He will be missed by his children and grandchildren, Virginia Knapp Dorell, Sean Craig, Sarah Ellis, Rachel Knapp, Ron Craig, Mary Knapp, and Laura Knapp.
His extended family in England includes sisters June, Marie, Nina and Anne, and brothers Nick, Tony and Ralph. He was predeceased by brothers John and David. The family asks that donations go to the Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Winston-Salem.
Danny “Tinker Todd” Knapp, former Fabulous Kangaroo, your greatest adventure has just begun. Be reckless and give 'em hell!
* * * * *
This obituary for Ramon Napolitano was provided by our Canadian friend, Bob Leonard. Many Heritage readers will remember Bob as the Canadian correspondent for "The Wrestler" magazine.
Bob is now an executive board member and Canadian representative of the Cauliflower Alley Club.
Mustapha Nasser looked the part of the archetypal villain from the middle east. Well, until he spoke that is, when the Devoniam accent from his place of birth mingled with the Lancashire twang from his new home of Manchester.
The west country town of Plymouth was a hotbed of wrestling in the 1930s, with international stars such as Karl Pojello, Karl Reginsky and Herbie Rosenberg appearing in the twice weekly shows against the domestic talent of Pye, Assirati, Garnon and the like. This was the environment in which George Thompson, born in Devonport in 1919, grew up. Not that George had plans to become a wrestler. A 1930s teenager had other more important things on their mind and political events overtook everyone's plans with the outbreak of war in September, 1939. George was enlisted into the army and as he had always kept himself in good shape he became a Physical Training instructor.
Following the war George returned to Devonport where he met up with a local wrestler, Dick Rogers, known to wrestling fans as Dick the Dormouse. Dick and his wife Jessie (later to promote at Belle Vue) were at the time running a boxing and wrestling booth in the West country. On the look out for talent Dick and Jessie encouraged George to join their troupe of wrestlers, taking on all comers as many as a dozen times a day.
Life in the booths was hard (there were usually at least three sessions a day) irregular money and poor conditions. George was eager to move in to the professional ranks and like his friends Dick and Jessie Rogers moved to Machester where there were more opportunities for a professional wrestler. In our earliest record of George's professional career, in 1951, he was billed as Buck Dalton, a name he had used previously in the fairground booths.
With the growing popularity of wrestling the newly formed (in 1952) Joint Promotions organisation was searching for young prospects. By 1953 George was a regular Joint Promotions worker, travelling up and down the country facing the likes of Alf Cadman, Alf Rawlings, Charlie Scott, Horst Hoffman and Francis Sullivan. Not that George's name was to become familiar to fans. Promoters considered George's appearance far too exotic for a George, or even a Buck. Enter the fast and aggressive Tiger Sharke. Tiger Sharke worked mainly for Wryton and Morrell Beresford Promotions (with the occasional visit into Dale Martin territory) and even a tour of India. In 1957 he made the transition to the opposition promoters and a third incarnation, Mustapha Nasser. Mustapha Nasser was a villain who continued to travel throughout the country working for top promoters such as Jack Taylor and Paul Lincoln facing top independents of the day.
Mustapha Nasser retired from the ring in 1964 whilst continuing with his work as a chef in a convalescent home. Not that his influence in wrestling disappeared as he travelled to Offam, Nr Lewes, training youngsters with an interest in Wrestling. He passed away in 1990.
Standing on the top rope facing the audience, a backwards summersault on to his astonished opponent and the inevitable result was a pinfall for John Naylor. Such moves were to become almost commonplace thirty years later, but in the early 1970s they helped make “The Golden Ace” John Naylor one of the new breed of wrestling stars.
Wigan’s John Naylor brought a breath of fresh air to the northern wrestling scene when he appeared in the early 1970s. Here was someone with skill, style, speed, and a healthy amount of aggression.
The speed and agility should not disguise just how the hardness of John Naylor. Wrestler Tony Francis recalls, "Many Moons ago I was billed to wrestle Ray Steele, on the pier at Morecambe. When I arrived at the venue I felt quite ill, and even more so when I saw the poster; Ray was never known for his gentleness! Anyway I had to cry off, and as it was too late to get a substitute it was down to Steve Fury to appear twice. Steve did his best, took the bout to round five, and left the ring absolutely exhausted. Now, the plot thickens. Steve's original opponent, The Little Prince, had also cried off, but this time a sub had been found....John Naylor!! Well, if Steve thought his match with Ray was hard, John took him to a different plane. Strangely enough, after a large whisky in the bar I was able to enjoy both bouts in comfort. I don't think Steve Fury has ever forgiven me! "
Having learnt the business at Riley’s gym he could certainly wrestle, and his early professional experiences came on weekend visits to France. Along with contemporaries Steve Wright, Dynamite Kid and Mark Rocco, John Naylor played just as significant part in changing the style of 1970s wrestling, but often seems one of the forgotten men of the new breed.
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A busy Welterweight on the north and midlands independent circuit in the first half of the 1960s; Fred Naylor was a frequent opponent of Kevin Conneely, Shem Singh, Colin McDonald,Johnny Saint. On the nights he wasn't wrestling Red could be found refereeing for independent promoters. A referee of some merit according to Heritage member, Duncan, who told us he was "A good ref. though who knew when to turn his back!" Barbara Sandwell told us, "I worked with him at Imperial Chemical Industries, Thornton Cleveleys in Lancashire. One morning shift we worked together and imagine my surprise when that evening he wrestled on Dominic Pye's bill at Blackpool Central Club."
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Said to be from darkest Africa N'Boa the Snakeman was Bob Elandon from Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo.
He toured Brtain several times in the sixties, initially billed as Elandon the Headhunter.
He brought with him to the ring a six-foot python, a gimmick subsequently copied by others. He walked slowly to the ring with the python wrapped around his shoulders, causing gasps from the audience as they moved quickly a few feet backwards.
With hindsight we can see that there was no danger to anyone, but this was a very effective and original gimmick at the time.
Once he had entered the ring N'Boa the Snakeman showed himself to be a colourful bare-footed and barely-toothed light-heavyweight baddie from wrestling’s golden era, who topped the Royal Albert Hall bill when he faced Steve Viedor.