WRESTLING HERITAGE

A hobby site created by enthusiasts of 
British wrestling celebrating wrestling and 
wrestlers from 1930 onwards through 
fifty glorious years of British wrestling history

W: Page 3 of 10

 

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

 See all wrestlers in section W

Steve Walton ... Jim Wango ...  Otto Wanz ... Johnny War Eagle ... Buddy Ward ... Jock Ward ... Max Ward .... Sharky Ward  ... Bill Warner ... Eric Wasburg ... More ...

Steve Walton

When we met up with Steve Walton he described himself as part of the Don Robinson family. Don Robinson was one of the major independent promoters of the 1960s and 1970s and a successful entrepreneur with numerous business interests.

Other members of the “Robinson family” included Klondyke Bill and  Toma Hansom. Steve trained the dolphins at Don Robinson's Marineland in Scarborough  and in his spare time wrestled on the independent bills of the north of England.

Steve went on to become head trainer of dolphins at Windsor Safari Park and at the time Steve was added to the Heritage website (in 2013) he was still travelling the world sharing his internationally acclaimed knowledge of marine wildlife. 

 
Jim Wango

The 6'5” heavyweight French based Congolese was a sensation when he was brought to Britain by promoter Atholl Oakeley.

He would bound over the top rope and mesmerise opponents with his bulging eyes. An immensely colourful attraction but it was all to end in tragedy. It's an incredible story of which we will tell no more, but direct you to our extended tribute “Wrestling's First Martyr.”

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Otto Wanz

The giant Austrian Otto Wanz  weighed in around the 25 stones mark, Born in 1943 his first sporting love was boxing, and he had a nationally successful amateur boxing career.

He turned professional around 1970, establishing himself in European rings. He is mostly remembered by British fans for his epic clash with Ray Steele in the 1984 Royal Albert Hall Spectacular, when he successfully defended his CWA championship against the Yorkshireman.  

Otto subsequently gained international acclaim in North America, the Far East and Europe, winning the AWA World heavyweight championship. He later returned to Britain to work for promoter Orig Williams. Following retirement Otto settled back in his native country, Austria, promoting, acting and  organising strong men competitions. 

Johnny War Eagle

American Indian who visited Britain in 1974 to 1975 and gained victory in his sole Royal Albert Hall appearance over Johnny Yearsley. 

Bearing a remarkable physical similarity to the more renowned Mohawk Billy Two Rivers, War Eagle was a harder hitting no-nonsense wrestler and we witnessed his humourless style in an angry televised clash with Johnny Czeslaw as well as live.  In fact War Eagle had tagged with Two Rivers in North America in 1970.

Another North American tag partner familiar to British fans was Billy White Wolf . If that's not enough add Linda, the wife of Adrian Street, who was Johnny's partner in a mixed tag pairing when she wrestled as Blackfoot Sioux.

In view of his name, hardly going down as one of the all time greats, we have to classify him as grossly under-rated - and possibly under-promoted due to the exaggerated nostalgic reverence the promoters had for Two Rivers' initial impact.  

A hard-hitting 16 stoner in the Jon Cortez and Albert Wall school of very realistic fighters. When back in the USA he drew with big name champions Dory Funk, Eduardo Carpentier and Gene Kiniski before going on to take the North American tag titles alongside Billy Two Rivers.

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Buddy Ward

Liverpool born Alfred Woodward was made for life as a pro wrestler. Okay, maybe not the name but that was easily fixed by a change to Buddy Ward. The personality, the toughness and the competitive element made him a natural. The first time we saw Buddy Ward in action he struck us as a bit of a hard nut. We weren't wrong. An unsurprising assessment to those who saw the shaven headed whirlwind in action, but a little more surprising when we tell you he was facing Bob Sherry, one of the hardest men in the game.

Buddy turned professional in 1959, and never went out of his way to make friends in the ring. Not the most scientific of wrestlers he was, nonetheless, a man with some skill who could hold his own with anyone in the ring. Some early bouts saw him billed as Woody Ward (reference to his family name of Woodward) and in the early sixties a frequent opponent was a young "German" who went on to become Steve Veidor, also from Ellesmere Port, the town that Buddy later lived in.

The contrasting styles of the tough guy Buddy Ward with the clean cut Veidor was one repeated time and again by the opposition promoters of the early 1960s, certainly enough times to show it was one that pleased the fans. Buddy learned how to work a crowd, and he worked them well without the need to resort to too much skulduggery. 

During the 1960s  Buddy worked  mainly in the opposition halls, but also made some appearances for Joint Promotions, and was a frequent traveller to the continent and Australia. The move to Joint Promotions in 1962 saw him hold his own with the likes of hell-in-boots Keith Martinelli and classical stylist Clayton Thomson.  Many other well known names were in the opposite corner, but whoever the name Buddy went in full of force and assured the fans of a rousing bout. Following his retirement Buddy remained keenly interested in the wrestling scene. He worked with Bob and Jean Bell organising the Ellesmere Port Wrestlers Reunion.

In April, 2010, Buddy surprised the wrestling fans when he came out of retirement, aged 75, to wrestle Johnny Saint in his local hall. The match brought national attention to Buddy, who appeared on television and challenged comedian Russell Howard to a wrestling match.  A swift ending to the contest with Saint failed to subdue Buddy, who phoned us the next day to tell us he was satisfied to have made the fans happy. No doubt just another of life's experiences that added to Buddy's next career change, that of after dinner speaker. Buddy Ward died  in June 2015.

Jock Ward

The dark, wavy haired heavyweight was a post war protege of Athol Oakeley.

He wrestled Ed Bright in 1952 for Oakeley's version of the British Heavyweight Title  at the Royal Albert Hall and faced  Tiger Joe Robinson at Harringay in another high profile match.  

Other memorable opponents included Bert Mansfield, Al Hayes and Gerry Hoggarth.  It was against Hoggarth, at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1953, that Jock finally dropped his British heavyweight championship. Many of Jock's contests were for promoter Atholl Oakeley who, following the end of the second world war, strived to revive the all-in style of wrestling he had introduced to Britain in 1930, which included a twenty count for a knock-out.

Max Ward

The iconic Max Ward brought a touch of American style razamatazz as the referee wearing his trademark striped shirt. Before his unmistakable refereeing style was unleashed on the unsuspecting public by promoter Paul Lincoln Max Ward was a 1950s heavyweight wrestler working throughout Britain and travelling to Sweden,  Germany and France. 

Coming from Halesowen, seven miles from Birmingham on the edge of the industrial heartland Max had the geographical legitimacy for his billing as Midlands Heavyweight Champion, but we have yet to find any reference to any championship matches.

Max continued wrestling until the early 1960s, mainly for Paul Lincoln, one of the main independent promoters. In the early 1960s the bumps were beginning to take their toll on Max's body and he turned referee for Paul Lincoln Management, a role at which he excelled. With the 1966 merger of Paul Lincoln Management and Dale Martin Promotions Max became a popular tv referee and, around 1967 or 1968, became one of the regular referees at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Fans did witness Max back in the ring for a series of referee versus wrestler matches, in which he faced Cyanide Sid Cooper.

In 2012 Wrestling Heritage bestowed upon Max Ward the title of Wrestling's Number One Official.

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Sharky Ward

 

The big, bruising Australian Sharky Ward made his way into British rings during the winter of 1980 - 81.

He faced an odd assortment of opponents ranging from middlewight Jeff Kaye (photo, right) to Wayne Bridges, losing to the kent wrestler in a World Heavyweight Title eliminator at the Royal Albert Hall in October, 1980. 

A world traveller by anyones standards Sharky was Australian Phil Ward who used a variety of names in Australia, USA, New Zealand and  Japan.

Bill Warner

Chatham's Bill Warner survived a world war two prisoner of war camp and an 800mile trek through Germany to take his place in British wrestling rings as a light heavyweight in the post war revival.

Born in Chatham in 1919 Bill became  interested in wrestling and joined the Luton Amateur Wrestling Club when he was sixteen years old. 

In 1939 on the outbreak of war he enlisted with the Royal West Kents and in 1940 was captured by the Germans. He endured the prisoner of war camp for five years, weighing just seven stones  when the camp was liberated. 

On his return to the United Kingdom Bill pursued his career as a professional wrestler. Our last recorded match for Bill Was in 1951.

His interest in wrestling continued, with Bill opening a gymnasium in Gillingham, with Alan Kitto and Tony Bates amongst his proteges. Bill Warner passed away in May, 2001, aged 82.

Eric Wasburg

Franco-Finnish wrestler visited Britain in 1957 and 1959, working for Joint Promotions, mainly in the midlands and north of England. First rate opponents included Bob Archer O'Brien,  Ken Joyce and John Foley. He did venture south, in February 1959, to face Cliff Belshaw at the Royal Albert Hall. He returned twice more, in 1961 and 1962, this time working for Dale Martin Promotions in the south of England.