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Keith Talbot ... Talio Kid ... Eric Tanberg ... Togo Tani....Tarantula ... Jose Tarres ... Al Tarzo ...Alan Taylor ... Bob Taylor ... Dave Taylor ... Eric Taylor ... Jack Taylor ... Jack Taylor ... Sheik Michael Taylor ... Ray Taylor ... Steve Taylor ... Lou Thesz ... Lee Thomas
A trainee of the St Lukes Club in Middlesbrough, Ian Gilmour was another, Keith went on to further his education at Alex McDonald's Gym in Middlesbrough and finished off at Jim Stockdale's Gym in Stockton on Tees. When he turned professional in the early 1960s he used his real name, Keith Smith. Some time later Keith became landlord of The Talbot Public House in Stockton High Street and he changed his ring name to Keith Talbot. He and his wife, Georgina were to keep charge of The Talbot for more than twenty five years. Their hosting of the pub is remembered by locals to this day, not least the Midsummer Christmasses and the time Keith walked into the bar with two lions. Shortly after assuming the name of the pub in the ring the brewery changed the name of The Talbot, to "No. 9." Yes we know you're wondering. No, of course he didn't change his ring name to Keith No.9! Keith worked for the independent promoters in the North East of England.
Talio Kid, known to family as Derik Standing, hailed from Halton, near Lancaster.
Derik was trained by the Cumberland and Westmorland champion and heavyweight pro, Gerry Hoggarth.
Derik the Talio Kid worked for the independent promoters, and when not wrestling he worked in a textile mill.
His textile work tragically led to his premature death from an industrial disease in his early fifties.
Here is a career-long professional who had started out as a Sumo wrestler before the War, excelled in that art during the War, and turned to professional wrestling after it. In 1953 he featured on the first ever professional wrestling bill run by a Japanese promoter. His opponent was Toshio Yamaguchi, but the pair of adversaries would go on to found the All Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance together in partnership. Togo Tani then wrestled his way around the world, settled for some little while in South America, and wrestled extensively in Spain and Africa. He didn't return to Japan until 1970, 14 years after he had left. In Spain, he trained Klaus Kauroff for the professional ring. His Spanish had become so good that the story even got out that he wasn't Japanese but Peruvian!
In the modern era he would tag alongside Shozo Kobayashi and would referee big box office bouts featuring the great Antonio Inoki in the 1970s. He was known in all wrestling countries but Britain by his real name, Umeyuki Kiyomigawa, usually, sumo-style, using only the surname. The wanderlust took hold of him again, and he returned to Germany to feud with Axel Dieter in 1973, and he frequently tagged alongside Le Gland Vladimir. Towards the end of his life he tried to set up a Women's Wrestling promotion in Japan. Togo Tani died in 1980 aged 63.
Togo Tani takes his place in our A-Z by virtue of his British appearances in the mid-sixties, and of course that most famous of tag bouts on wrestling's Night of Nights in 1966 when, partnered by Chati Yokouchi, the villainous pair caused outrage with their evil tactics against Steve Viedor and Mike Marino at London's Royal Albert Hall. A few weeks beforehand at the same Kensington arena, Togo Tani had been disqualified in a bloody and controversial singles bout with Mike Marino, and the tag match, so eagerly awaited, did not disappoint. It was also the final bout that referee Lou Marco officiated in. Clearly well rated within the business, Togo Tani's photograph, right, appeared on the cover of The Wrestler magazine. The well-rated Japanese pair then made a third appearance in Kensington and finally won against Johnny Czeslaw and Ivan Penzecoff.
In the early sixties Togo Tani had wrestled extensively in France, and even notched up a notable victory against the redoubtable Bourreau de Béthune. Chati Yokouchi joined him in Paris in 1963.
1965 had seen Togo Tani wrestling on Paul Lincoln bills, and another little can of worms presents itself through the fact that Paul Lincoln, in his pre-Doctor Death days, had wrestled as Togo Tani alongside tag partner Joe D'Orazio. Can it be that Kiyomigawa took his more manageable name for British tongues from a tag pairing several years before he had wrestled in Britain?
Togo Tani was given a baptism of fire on his UK television debut, facing Billy Robinson, but enjoyed a less imposing opponent in Charlie Fisher when we last saw him on our small screens in 1967.
Belatedly we can state that it is no wonder veteran villain Togo Tani was able to dovetail so well into the wealth of talent in mid-sixties British rings, now that we are able to put this fuller, but no doubt still woefully inadequate, biography together. The man did it all! We hope our Japanese visitors to the Wrestling Heritage site will get in touch with more information on one of the all-time greats.
Covered in tattoos heavyweight villain Tarantula made a colourful addition to the wrestling world of the seventies and eighties.
The Portsmouth based grappler was accompanied at one time by his manager C.J.Percival, otherwise known as Heritage member and long time supporter of pro wrestling, Ian Dowland (right).
When he wasn't frightening fans as Tarantula he could be found frightening them as Arachnamaniac, The Mummy, The Barbarian or the much less scarey Alan Turner, who was the son in law of Bruno Elrington.
Big Bruno didn't just give Alan a daughter, he also passed on much of his wrestling skill as Alan was a trainee at Big Bruno's Portsmouth gymnasium.
It was Tarantula that was given the privileged role of opposing Count Bartelli in his last ever contest.
Later in his career Alan moved to Birmingham, where he continued wrestling and trained youngsters including Darren Walsh, the son of Banger.
Jose Roses Ibañez wrestled as Jose Tarres and was one of the best post war Spanish wrestlers. A 1960s visitor from Barcelona known, for obvious reasons, as “The Man with the Iron Head.”
We understand this was because of his fondness of headbutting rather than the rumour his head was implanted with pieces of metal following an accident. Jose is reputed to have head butted and knocked a bull unconscious on one occasion.
Presumably the likes of Ken Joyce, Johnny Yearsley and Joe Cornelius did better. One time European heavyweight champion.
Al Tarzo was trained for the ring in the mid-fifties at Jack Taylor's club based at Heanor football ground and then at the Elnor Street gym at Langley Mill.
His first bout was on a Jack Taylor presentation at Heanor Town Hall, Taylor's first promotion at the venue, and he dubbed the new boy Al Tarzo from Canada. Al went on to wrestle for Bert Assirati Promotions around the south and Midlands.
When wrestling for Eddy Woodward he had a long unmasked run as the Red Demon, and was never ever unmasked. (The Red Demon persona was later revived by Alan J. Batt). A stalwart of many independent promotions, Al wrestled at the legendary Nottingham Goose fair on “Billy Wood's Boxing and Wrestling Booth”.
When Al retired from the ring and the pits in the late sixties he went on to be a long distance lorry driver, and on three occasions was a finalist in the lorry driver of the year competition organised by the "Commercial Motor".
Nowadays Al is a generous contributor to Wrestling Heritage under the name of Alan Bingham has many fascinating memories to share with us about other big names including Joe D'Orazio and The Mighty Chang.
Look out for him in the Talk Wrestling forum and take a look at his fascinating programme collection in The Al Tarzo Collection that can be found in the Heritage Galleries section of this site (link below) .
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Bob Taylor was a well known and popular wrestler of the 1950s and following twenty years, though 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 aganst 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.
Bob made it to the dizzy heights of the front cover of The Wrestler magazine in August 1964, dropkicking Johnny Apollo (photo right).
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 mid1970s, 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. 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 good at submissions," according to fellow heavyweight 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 was the cousin of Heavy middleweight champion Eric Taylor. Less well known, but certainly not lacking in influence, as will be testified by the many professionals who learned the business under his wing.
Jack's father Thomas was an amateur champion of the 1930s and his brother Barry was a Yorkshire champion. A bricklayer by trade Jack trained many amateurs and aspiring professionals in Bradford, being responsible for the development of many young wrestlers of the 1960s and 1970s.
Jack Taylor 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. The photo above shows Jack at the time of his Olympic selection, with a report of his Olympic bouts on the right.
Jack's daughter has recently been in touch with Wrestling Heritage and tells us eighty years old Jack is in good health and living in Yorkshire.
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 independnet 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.
Read our extended tribute: The Quiet Mover and Shaker
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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 in the ring 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 punisment 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 The Owd Reds!
Yes, another one. These Taylor's are like buses and just keep coming! Back across the Pennines to the Yorkshire Taylor clan.
Steve was a very promising ligt heavyweight who displayed all the charcteristics of the Taylor family, sadly nearing the end of the Mountevans wresttling 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.
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.
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
Read our extended tribute: A Legend In Our Midst
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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.