Doncaster’s heavyweight Albert Rocky Wall epitomised everything that was good about post war professional wrestling.
Skill, ruggedness, tenacity and courage were his hallmarks. The latter two characteristics actually getting him into the professional ring in the first place as a diagnosis of rheumatic fever would have put paid to most others ambitions. Albert made his professional debut, aged 22, at Middlesborough against Cyril Morris.
Watching him enter the ring was not an overly exciting event because the dour Yorkshirman’s style had nothing to do with grand entrances, flashy outfits or fashionable gimmicks.
He was simply a plain, powerful heavyweight technician at its finest; a man who who reached the top of his profession in a quiet, dignified way.
Often in the shadows of Billy Robinson Albert held the British title for a fleeting three weeks in 1966 before losing it to rival Gwyn Davies.
It was Davies he beat again in 1970 to win the title again, this time in Nottingham. The title moved back and forth between the two, but by the 1970s Albert had firmly established himself as one of the UKs top post war heavyweights.
Heading many a true fan's realistic wishlist for a TWC discovery, the Doncaster Panther is discussed in detail in the Shining Stars section.
Read our extended tribute: Rocky
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1960s Birmingham based wrestler who worked for the independent promoters. Often billed as Captain Vic Wall, sadly we know little about him. We do know he was also a referee for the independent promoters, and said to be a good one by other wrestlers because he had the talent of not seeing everything.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
One of wrestling’s tragedies surrounds London’s Sonny Wallis. Born Sydney Arthur Wallis he was a fine wrestler and one of the heroes who struggled to successfully revive professional wrestling after the second world war. An accomplished swimmer and five years an amateur wrestler preceded his professional wrestling career.
Sonny Wallis was one of those that appeared wrestling on BBC television in 1946, soon after the station re-commenced transmissions following the end of the war. His opponent was another soon to be famous wrestler of the Heritage Years, Canadian Ed Barker.
Here was a man who could hold his own with the hard men of the ring such as Arthur Beaumont, Jim Foy, Jack Atherton and anyone else the promoters matched with him. Sonny's reward came in July, 1950, when his defeat of Charlie Fisher led to recognition as British light heavyweight champion.
Tragedy was to come Sonny's way in December, 1956 when he was killed in a car crash.
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He was a graduate of Wigan’s Snakepit and one of the last Mountevans style wrestlers to quite literally rub shoulders with legends such as Bill Joyce, Jack Dempsey and Billy Riley.
This trio of old masters were instrumental in training a young Bobby Walsh who had turned up at the Whelley gymnasium demanding that they teach him to wrestle.
Teach him they did, and Bob was one of the minority who returned time and again to learn more about his chosen sport. Heavyweight champion Billy Joyce took to the youngster and arranged a daily 3.45 pm rendezvous at the gym for Bob’s next lesson in wrestling, the Wigan style. Others that had an influence were fellow Wigan masters Jack Fallon, Roy Wood, Jack Cheers and Ernie Riley.
In the early days the grand master himself, Billy Riley, would sit in the corner offering advice whenever he thought it necessary, which seemed to be quite ofen. Joyce prepared Walsh for his professional debut, but so keen was the newcomer that on Sunday mornings he would travel to Ted Betley’s gym in Warrington for a pull-around with the likes of Bernie Wright and Davey Boy Smith.
Having turned professional Bob wrestled for both Joint promotions and the independents, with opponents including Honey Boy Zimba, Sid Cooper , Bert Royal and John Naylor. It was Naylor in the opposite corber when Nob made his only television appearance, narrowly losing by the odd fall. A technician at the start Bob soon learned to mix it and a harder-edge found him often the object of fan’s abuse. He is pictured at an open air show in Wigan with the legendary Billy Joyce serving as his second. Bob Walsh passed away in August,2008, following a long battle with cancer. Wrestler Steve Fury said, "Bob was a very fit and strong wrestler who trained with the very elite in Wigan. A nice man, another sad loss to the wrestling business."
Another of those wrestlers who combined their careers with farming. Middlesborough’s Norman Walsh was a rough, tough, mid heavyweight who was a long time holder of the British mid Heavyweight title.
Like other Northerners he had an aggressive style that fans sometimes confused with villainy, and a villain he was not. At the top of the profession for many years Norman wrestled Lou Thesz for the World Heavyweight Championship when the American visited Britain in 1957.
A car crash in 1963 put Walsh out of action for many months but he returned to establish his supremacy once again until retiring in the mid 1960s. Royal Albert Hall wins over international stars included Ricky Waldo and Felix Gregor.
Our last recorded Joint Promotions bout for him is against the Zebra kid at Cliftonville in 1967, but he continued for a few more years on the independent circuit. Norman Walsh was landlord of the Dog and Gun public house at Knayton, between Northallerton and Thirsk.
Norman influenced many young wrestlers at the St Lukes Club in Middlesborough and his own gymnasium in Thirsk. He was a well respected member of the local community and is remembered to this day in a cricket competition for the Norman Walsh Trophy.
Bernard Hughes wrote:
"The photo of Norman Walsh with a tan, white dressing gown and the belt was taken just after he returned with the European title from South Africa. A few weeks later he was at Newcastle with the dressing gown now blue. I asked him why he changed it and he said that it had proved to be unlucky. His wife Flo, who always went with him to matches said to me - 'It got dirty too bloody quickly'."
Two Tony Tony Walsh was the first wrestler to be profiled in the Shining Stars section.
We told you there he was a bit of a hell-raiser but just look what they thought of him on home turf, right!
Like many others Tony's tentative first steps into the professional wrestling rings were in Ron Taylor's Fairground Booth, using the name Romany Jones!
Tony Walsh is most often remembered as the man who took the bumps from Big Daddy, but such limited vision vision short changes a man who gave so much enjoyment to fans over the years.
Today Tony Walsh is a very successful businessman who speaks generously about Big Daddy at a time when it is more fashionable to criticise.
Read our extended tribute: The Epitome of An Unsung Hero