British wrestling history 

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S: Saari - Sandilands

Wrestling Heritage A-Z


Arnie Saari

Rugged Finnish heavyweight Arnie Saari visited Britain in the winter of 1965/6 wrestling in the north of England and Scotland against opponents that included Bill Rawlings, Billy Joyce, The Mask,Norman Walsh and Gordon Nelson. Began his professional wrestling career in Australia working for Sydney promoter Hal Morgan, making his debut in 1960.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Sabu (Gurdial Singh)

Gurdial Singh, or Sabu as he was most often billed, was another of those fast and clever welterweights who we thought had the skill and charisma to take him to the top.

We last saw him in wrestling  action in March 1971, back on the independent circuit wrestling Billy Ryan. It was an impressive performance against another newcomer, Sabu displaying an extensive range of  wrestling holds and nipping around the ring at bewildering speed. Previous appearances against Earl McCready and Hamid Ali Gil were just as pleasing and we did expected Sabu to be given more of a push when working for the bigger promoters. To add a splash of colour to what was already a colourful appearance Sabu would demonstrate an ability to smash a collection of roof tiles before many of his contests.

At the time we were writing an article on him for Ringsport magazine, and he was eager to tell us of his recent appearance at the Royal Albert Hall. Sid Cooper was in the opposite corner, and although Sabu had lost the bout he was very proud of his appearance at the venue.  We guess that bout must have remained the highlight of Sabu's career. 

Gurdial told us he was born in the Punjab and moved to the United Kingdom when he was nine, eventually settling in Coventry. 

At one end of the Public Hall stood a magnificent organ chamber, and it was beneath this that he told us that it had always been his ambition to play the organ! "Well, it must be an easier way of making a living!"

Experience in the fairground booths taking on all challengers led to a professional debut against Micky Fear. Sabu worked for the independents for half a dozen years before being signed up for Joint Promotions in June 1969, working most often for Wryton Promotions.

An energetic, athletic style made him popular with fans, all the more memorable for the dramatic demonstration of tile smashing with the side of his hand. Results on the Joint Promotions circuit were mixed and after a couple of years Sabu returned to the independents, forming a formidable tag partnership with Killer Joe Burns. 

We were pleased to meet up with Gurdial Singh once again in 2010.

Johnny Saint

We have enthusiastically followed Johnny Saint?s career since the early 1960s. Even in those early days on the independent circuit it was obvious that here was a wrestler with huge potential. From the outset he was a class act, seen in scintillating clashes with old stalwarts like Fred Woolley and Danny Flynn, as well as up and coming youngsters such as Ian St John. As long as we remember fans compared Johnny to the great George Kidd, with Saint emulating Kidd's famous roll-in-a-ball ploy to perfection long before his move to Joint Promotions.

Saint turned professional in 1959, having been trained in boxing by Alf Robinson  and wrestling by Billy Robinson. Although Bill Robinson?s professional career began only a year or so before Saint?s the young heavyweight had a huge influence on his career. Other influences in those early days were Danny Flynn and Fred Woolley, owners of Cape Promotions, for whom Johnny worked backstage, erecting the ring and getting the venues ready for the paying public.

After ten years on the independent circuit Johnny was brought over to Joint Promotions, and became an ?overnight success? amongst Joint Promotion fans. Early wins over Breaks and Faulkner rapidly established Saint as one of the top lightweights.

His epic battles with Jim Breaks are legendary, and it came as no surprise to anyone when Saint succeeded George Kidd as the World Lightweight champion.

Saint was a hero of the fans throughout his career, combining technical skill with speed and acrobatic ability.

His career spanned almost forty years, but his exploits are still discussed by wrestling fans around the world.

Tony Saint

Dark haired, clean cut lightweight from Huddersfield worked for independent promoters in Yorkshire in the 1970s.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Tino Salvadore

The Belgian based Sicilian, and self-styled master of the back drop-kick,  made a couple of  British television appearances as part of a Continental team taking on UK wrestlers.

His  televised debut against Tug Wilson is recorded in Armchair Corner (see photo). 

Following his undistinguished British tour of 1973, which included a Royal Albert Hall defeat at the hands of Brian Maxine,   Tino made his way to the USA

Across the Atlantic he found greater success under a variety of guises, including Salvatore Bellomo, Crazy Bellomo, Centurian Marsella, Salvatore Martino, Adonis Romano, and Wildman Bellomo.

Pasquale Salvo (Tony Salvo)

Bermodsey's Anglo Italian middleweight who tagged with Peter Rann as the Riot Squad, Salvo was a rule-breaking hell-raiser and hated by the crowds - except in Bedford and Peterborough where the large Italian migrant community related to the brickmaking industry gave him fully vocal support.

An ex-boxer who had a particularly noteworthy feud in 1964 Southend with British Champion Jack Dempsey and came out on top twice.

Pasquale and Iron Man Steve Logan were friends from childhood. Latterly a petrol station proprietor, see Logan tanking up, right.

Petrol sales must have boomed for Pasquale disappeared from the fight scene late sixties before returning briefly as the oil wells dried up in 1975.

Great Salzedo (Zalzedo)

Our interest in the Great Salzedo was aroused by his son, Keith, who knew little about his father's wrestling exploits. Ron Historyo uncovered these references to Salzedo from 1934 and 1935, and reported the bout with Young Warner was stated to be the best bout of the night.

No one can tell the story better than Keith:
"As a family we had no recollection of these other than my father who was called Ralph Lopez Salzedo used to be a wrestler during the 30's. He did not have any historical evidence of his exploits during this time. He had returned from Canada as a naturalised Canadian citizen we believe in the year 1934. He immigrated to Canada in 1923 with all his family, some of whom stayed in Canada and America. He joined the army at the outbreak of WW11 but was invalided out some time later.

He was living in London and the address shown on his marriage certificate on 11th December  1937 was 97 Coronation Avenue, Stoke Newington, His profession was given as an assistant Transport Manager, Furniture manufacturer. His father (my Grand father) was Abraham Lopez Salzedo whose profession was an Advertising Publisher.

By the end of the war my father moved to Nottingham and set up in business with his father and later his brother Benjamin Lopez Salzedo. Their name was changed by deed poll soon after this from Lopez Salzedo and the family was known as Sells.

The business soon developed and they started selling a product called Nova Seal which was an 

underbody sealing compound for motor cars. This was very successful and during the 1950s and 1960s expanded considerably. By this time the family connection had split and gone their own separate ways in business, although my father retained the Noval Seal business which he sold to another company in 1964.

My father died in Nottingham on the 21st December 1988 of ischaemic heart disease. and was cremated at The Wilford Cemetry, Nottingham."

Keith continues to search for information about his father. If you can help please contact him via this website.

Mal Sample

Cheshire's Mal Sample came onto the pro wrestling scene in 1961 and during the first half of the 1960s  seemed to be everywhere in the north and midlands.

A busy worker, usually for Wryton Promotions, he wrestled most of the lighter men, and a few of the heavier ones, between 1961 and 1966. On television he faced Ivan Penzekoff at Crewe Town Hall, not far from his home in Congeton.

 His disappearance was as swift as his appearance and Mal was suddenly lost to the wrestling scene.

After leaving wrestling Mal became heavily involved in stock car racing and collecting vintage trucks. We would very much like to learn more about Mal whose career promised so much and lasted so briefly

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Mal Supertsar Sanders

Morden welterweight who appeared  on the scene as a twenty year old in the mid-seventies and enjoyed a dream Dale Martin push, beating McManus on television and relieving him of his European Middleweight Chammpionship and belt. 

Nevertheless, his unsmiling manner seemed to block his elevation to the Great Golden Hope that the promotion needed at the time, and he settled more comfortably into a role to succeed McManus more style-wise than as title holder.

In terms of opponents, Superstar Sanders faced them all.  As well as appearing on the same bill as Big Daddy on numerous other occasions, including at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall,  Sanders would often share a tag rope alongside the Halifax giant. 

This alliance would bring him into in-ring confrontation with many of the super-heavyweight villains – and none were bigger than Giant Haystacks himself.

He was a fitting winner of the inaugural Mike Marino Trophy, contested in memory of his long time friend and world champion, Mike Marino.

Mal Sanders continued to be a regular on ITV’s weekly wrestling  right up until the final televised bouts in 1988, and his career has continued well beyond  into the New Age.

Read our extended tribute: A Glittering Career

Roger L Sandilands

Unfortunately our paths never crossed with the popular worker on the the independent circuit in the 1960s and 1970s.

Well remembered as the  tag partner of Al Hollamby in The Diaboliques tag team. He also partnered Al Hollamby in managing a respected independent promotion of the late 1960s and 1970s, Verdun Leslie Promotions.