Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Zando Zabo ... Tony Zale ... Great Zalzedo ... Kid Zamboa ... Pancho Zapatta ... Josef Zaranoff ... Armando Zarpanalian ... Ivan (Great) Zarynoff ... Warnier Zarzecki ... Zebra Kid ... Kurt Zehe ... Nicolai Zigulinoff ... Honey Boy Zimba ... Karl Zimmerman ... Zoltan Zimmerman ... Jake Dutch Zorra ... The Zulu ... Andros Zychich
Imagine a heavyweight toughie whose hair looked like there was a constant electric current passing through his body and your image of Venezuelan baddie won’t be far wrong.
The occasional, and often more frequent scratch, bite and punch were all part of the artillery used by the 1960s heavyweight as he hurtled towards frequent disqualification.
He was known as “The Wrestling Gypsy,” partly because of his appearance and partly because each year he returned to Venezuela from his travels to help his brother in law on the family farm. Zabo began his wrestling career in the USA, known as The Elephant Boy, a creation of wrestling promoter Jack Pfefer.
At other times he was known as The Wildman of Borneo, but should not be confused with the more widely known Wildman featured in letter W. Following his wrestling career Zabo, real name Bill Oliva, was ordained a Catholic Priest.
Friends called him “Fluff,” mum called him Ken, but to the wrestling fans of the 1950s and 1960s Tony Zale was “The Bearded Marvel.”
The Wigan light heavyweight abandoned his real name of Ken Baldwin and adopted that of the more glamorous sounding former world boxing champion.
A graduate of Billy Riley's Wigan gymnasium, which speaks volumes, learning the business alongside Francis Sullivan, Ernie Riley, Mel Riss and Roy Wood.
In a career that spanned two decades Zale was a regular worker for Paul Lincoln Management and numerous other independent promoters.
Sometime tag partner of Max Crabtree he made the crossing to Joint Promotions and a couple of television appearances against Jean Morandi and Frank O’Donnell.
Back home in Wigan Tony owned the “Room at the The Top Beat Club,” advertised locally as a “Pseudo Bohemian Coffee House.”
Visiting Portuguese heavyweight, often billed from Cuba, was something of a classy touch with his scientific style when he hit British shores on a regular basis between 1958 and 1962. Zamboa wrestled all around the world, reputedly speaking Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.
The Russian strongman appeared on the Dale Martin scene in the early fifties and stayed around until 1970, going about his wrestling business in a very serious way. His skill attracted the admiration of many, but he lacked the charisma to gain the popularity acquired by others of his generation.
A sixten-stone plus heavyweight who could hold his own against the best that Britain and the world had to offer, as exemplified in a 1965 televised classic from Wallasey in which he only went down narrowly in the eighth round to Billy Robinson. His 1963 victory over Tibor Szakacs in the final of the 1963 Fairfield Hall knock-out tournament is illustrative of the Russian’s standing; as was his selection as one of only two opponents of American Luther Lindsay on the latter’s visit to Britain (th other was Mike Marino).
In 1964 he had feuded on the small screen with European champion Billy Howes, the honours shared, and that same year at the Royal Albert Hall he defeated the French Heavyweight Champion, André Bollet. On the final night’s wrestling before the closedown for refurbishment of the Wimbledon Palais, it was Zaranoff who emerged victorious in an 8-man ko tournament defeating Bruno Elrington in the grand final. Later he would tag occasionally alongside Johnny Czeslaw.
His final ring action was in Lew Philips' 1971 independent promotions.
Born in Russia, Josef had left his homeland shortly after the Second World War; he travelled throughout the world but always returned to his UK home, where he was a stalwart of the 1950s and 1960s wrestling scene. In retirement, he became Landlord of The Captain’s Locker in Solihull.
“Our man Zorba” proclaimed the Adverts for Greek Armando Zarpanalian, though he was sometimes billed as French and he may well have been based in that land off Britain’s shore!
A skilful middleweight he unsuccessfully challenged Bert Royal for the World Middleweight title at Belle Vue.
His solitary British television appearance was in 1969 when he partnered Vassilios Mantopolous in a Cup Final day loss to McManus and Logan.
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There was a Zarynoff years before the Joe Zaranoff we all liked. Ivan Zarynoff was said to be a technical wrestler who specialized in nerve pressure techniques. The advert proclaims him the world's strongest man, but we have yet to find any evidence. Nonetheless a regular feature of British wrestling bills in the 1930s.
The variously spelt 6'2" Pole visited UK mid-sixties at a time when wrestlers from his country were in short supply and seemed rather exotic. He had actualy escaped the Iron Curtain and was based in Paris.
When Dale Martin Promotions selected the best that they could offer to appear before the HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1963 (still considered by many to be wrestling’s greatest night) the Polish mid-heavyweight was right there on the bill.
Zarzecki opened the second half of the tournament with an unsuccessful challenge of Billy Howes for the latter’s European mid-heavyweight title.
Zarzecki, as suggested here, was a skilful mid-heavyweight who wrestled within the rules but was not afraid to use some hard, offensive power moves should the occasion demand.
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The original Zebra Kid was a mountainous twenty-four stones super-heavyweight, a fearsome sight in his striped mask.
For a man of his girth he was remarkably agile and skilful, even having a hand in training British Olympic wrestler Dennis McNamara. Born in the United States with Greek parents the Kid came to Britain in November 1959 and immediately combated the best on offer.
Unlike most masked men his record was never perfect, and our first recorded loss was against Mike Marino in May, 1960. On returning to the USA in the spring of 1961 there followed a long sequence of defeats against both distinguished, and not so distinguished, opponents. The Zebra Kid returned and set up home in Britain in 1963. By 1967 defeats, and unmaskings were coming fast and furious, and he retired in March 1968.
The name Zebra Kid was later adopted by Ireland’s Sean Regan around 1976, working for both Joint Promotions and the independents.
Top Masked Wrestlers' identities are revealed only in the Wrestling Heritage countdown "Hooded Heydays".
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Here was another of those 18 stone brutes who delighted fans around the world when their clean cut local hero made the inevitable return from the seeming dead following a terrible beating.
The Vulgar Bulgar, as we called him, was a globetrotting heavyweight who worked throughout Europe and other parts of the world including Australia and New Zealand. Wherever he travelled he made a big impression as something of a wild man, and made a big impression in the German tournaments of the early 1950s.
The bushy haired Bulgarian globe-trotting heavyweight came to Britain in 1958 with cracking contests against big names such as Norman Walsh, Count Bartelli, The Mask and Jack Pye. He was destined to return in the early sixties, this time working for the top independent promoter Paul Lincoln, always on the lookout for overseas talent to complement his home grown talent.
The Ebony Hercules from Freetown, Sierra Leone, started out wrestling as Nigel the Warrior in the early sixties before taking on his more mellifluous monicker. The distinctive features, the muscles on top of muscles, the colourful persona, the red and white beads around his neck, combined to make Honey Boy Zimba one of the most popular heavyweights of the sixties and seventies.
At 15 stone 7 pounds but only 5'7", Manchester-based Honey Boy was ideally placed to take on middleweights and up, and regularly faced Giant Haystacks. Many anecdotes related to other wrestlers seem to end up "... and so we all went off late night drinking with Honey Boy Zimba." Went in for the tiniest of war dances but could deliver a whole array of aerial moves, including all manner of head butts, the tail drop and the plank.
One of the most animated of heavy breathers in the Czeslaw mould, and frequently seen in tag action: as a founder of the Black Knights with Ezzard Hart; then alongside Masambula, Lenny Hurst as well as a memorable World of Sport bout with Butcher Bond against Haystacks and John Quinn; and even in action with Charlie Fisher. Honey Boy was a colourful and popular addition to the British wrestling scene, who sadly passed away at too early an age in 1999.
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We have on record a handful of appearances in 1950 and 1951 by this heavyweight, all of them in the midlands. Opponents included Count Bartelli, Jim Hussey, Larry Laycock, and Hassan Ali Bey, all top of the bill bouts. We would welcome further information.
The North American heavyweight of German descent made a couple of visits to Britain in 1954 and again in the early sixties. He was a rough an tough out and out villain who engaged in a series of bouts with the popular Georges Gordienko.
He was a big man, tipping the scales at over 18 stones. An unenviable matching against Josef Zaranoff at the Royal Albert Hall ended in an almost inevitable disqualification.