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 8 of 10

 

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

 See all wrestlers in section W

Barry Willis ... Johnny Willis ... Dick Wills  ... Bull Wilson ... Eric Tug Wilson ... Ian Wilson ... Johnny Wilson ... Ken Wilson ... Pete Wilson ...  Whipper Wilson ...  Ricky Wiseman ...  The Witchdoctor  ...  More .... 

 

Barry Willis

Barry Willis: the son of Johnny  Willis and was one of the youngest professionals at the time aged just sixteen after a championship winning schoolboy amateur career: Marty Jones was a contemporary.  He had a baptism of fire when he was matched against Keith (Blood Boots) Martinelli. Barry survived and went on to a successful career with both Joint Promotions and on the Independents. 
 
Barry had his own hairdressing business up the road from his dad's pub which meant that wrestling bouts had to be fairly local because of the business.
 
He remembers bouts with Ian "Mad Dog" Wilson, Sugar Ray Francis, Pete Lindberg, Alec Burton and Eddie Rose. Barry still misses the wrestling life and wishes he could do it all over again (except the Martinelli bit)!

Johnny Willis

Johnny Willis, a popular middleweight of the 50s and 60s who was from Sale in Manchester.

Johnny had bouts against the likes of Tommy Mann, Danny Flynn, Fred Woolley and Alf Cadman. In fact Alf broke Johnny's leg in one hard fought bout. Johnny became a well-known referee on the Independent circuit in the later stages of his career as well as being landlord of the Charlestown pub just up the road from Booth Hall Children's Hospital and Bogart Hole Clough in North Manchester.

Johnny fathered another good wrestler, Barry Willis. The father and son teamed up as the Willis Boys for tag matches in the late 60s and early 80s and Johnny's last bout was a tag with Barry versus Sugar Ray Francis and Johnny Jordan , a venue for which Barry still has the poster.

Dick Wills

Dick Wills had the reputation of   a very hard man, one of the very few who seemed to know no fear according to Atholl Oakeley. Wills was a coal miner in Lancashire, learning his trade as a catch wrestler competing for side stakes in the fields near his home. Both Dave Armstrong and Atholl Oakeley turned to Wills to tutor them in the professional style of wrestling, with Oakeley proclaiming him  “the finest wrestler ever produced by England.”   Although mostly associated with the pre-war all-in days Dick did continue wrestling for a couple of years following the outbreak of peace, justifying his place in the A-Z. He was British light heavyweight champion from 1932, possibly claiming the title during the unregulated years until as late as 1947,  but titles are unclear and we cannot find any championship contest linking Wills to Bill McDonald who claimed the title in 1947. The great wrestling historian Charles Mascall rated Dick Wills  the world's number 8 best middleweight of all time, one place below Jack Dale.  We  believe Dick Wills worked under a mask on occasions but have no further information.

Bull Wilson

Bill (Bull) Wilson started wrestling seriously when in his mid twenties and was a heavyweight all his wrestling career. His love for good and wholesome food saw to that. He comes from the Govan area of Glasgow and his daytime employment was in the Hackney Cab Maintenance Industry.

He ran a servicing and repair department in the city centre. Always a quiet family man he would bring the wife and kids down to the Sea Shore in Ayrshire, to enjoy the sun, if it shone that is, whilst he attended Sunday afternoon training sessions at Dale Storm's Gym in the sleepy mining village of Mossblown, a stones throw for the town of Ayr. He was not the quickest around the ring but when he clasped on a hold, he was like a Rottweiler dog, and it was almost impossible to to break free when this very,very powerful individual had a hold of you. He was always great to be with and had a wonderful laugh and a friendly smile.

He is well respected among the Scottish fraternity. Although his career, like other younger entrants, was cut short by the loss of ITV'S World of Sport and the subsequent demise of the long established halls, He had however, established himself, in a very short time as the man to beat, after Andy Robin in his weight division. His speciality was the Backbreaker, at which he was very successful. He was tough but never dirty! He worked almost entirely for the Independents and featured regularly for Spartan Promotions.
By Dale Storm.

Eric Tug Wilson

The name wasn't original, there was a Tug Wilson wrestling in the 1930s and a bare knuckle heavyweight boxer of the same name in the 19th century.

Nevertheless, Eric Tug Wilson was one of those that brought a breath of fresh air and reassurance to older fans at a time when the rings seemed dominated by oversized heavyweights of limited skill.  Not that Tug was in any way dull; just look at the costume.

Yet another of those judo black belts of which our rings seemed full, and dressed accordingly. A former merchant navy officer Tug learned his judo in Japan .
 
Tug Wilson always provided value for money. He could wrestle, he could move, he could elicit sympathy and anger from the fans.

Not just in singles matches, but in tag contests also he proved a fitting and worthwhile partner for  Rollerball Mark Rocco.

Tug was landlord of the Clarence Hotel on the Wilmslow Road, Manchester
 
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Ian Wilson

Welterweight going on Light-heavyweight from Stockport, Cheshire who had amateur grounding at Hollywood Amateur Wrestling Club in the early sixties.

Also a contemporary of Johnny Saint at Grant Foderingham's gym in Openshaw, Manchester. Debuted professionally in 1966 and well into the 21st century still wrestling occasionally – making him an active wrestler for well over 40 years!

Ian Wilson wrestled mainly on Independent shows all over the country. We watched him in combat with fellow Mancunians Pete Lindbergh, Eddie Rose and Bob Francini.  He was a member of one of a notorious and most successful masked tag teams in Joint promotions rings, take a look at the Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.

Without reservation we can tell you that Ian Wilson was one of the most under-rated young wrestlers of the 1960s who should have been snapped up by Joint Promotions and given the recognition he deserved.

He was given the monicker “Mad Dog” Wilson after a particularly memorable bout in the Midlands against Skull Murphy.

Nowadays Ian Wilson is to be seen principally as an emcee on Ian McGregor Promotions.

Tarzan Johnny Wilson

Tarzan Johnny Wilson was an ex footballer who  joined Dale Martin Promotions  at the end of 1974. 

Always the good guy, Johnny started out with the independent promoters until given a 1970s push by Joint Promotions, often tagging alongside brother Peter.

From the hunky-dory Portsmouth/Southsea/Fareham hub of south coast wrestling, his career highlight was, no surprises, a Royal Albert Hall defeat of his trainer, Big Bruno Elrington. 

A credible worker, but why Tarzan? Why on earth the promoters didn't bill him from the African jungle and have done with it we shall never know, it would have been far more interesting.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information. 

Ken Wilson

Pre and post war classy  middleweight from Southampton whose career extended into the 1950s.  Worked mainly across southern England against top class opposition that included Mick McManus, Bob Archer O'Brien, Jack Queseck and Eddie Capelli. Encouraged a good friend of his to have a go at wrestling.

The friend? 

Mick McManus.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information. 

Pete Wilson

 

After a couple of years with independent promoters, goalkeeper Peter joined his elder brother Johnny within the Joint Promotions network in 1975. 

They tagged successfully against heavyweight pairings and even against lighter weighted opposition such as McManus and Logan. 

Pete also had singles matches but never struck any chord of indentity or originality.  He was another of the sacrificial lambs that lay down for the benefit of more illustrious names.

Outside the ring Peter and Johnny owned their own painting and decorating business. 

 

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.  

Ricky Wiseman

In the early 1960s with British wrestling audiences at their highest levels ever there was an  unprecedented demand for new wrestling talent.

A similar scenario thirty years earlier had led to some promoters using wrestlers with little experience or skill, with the consequence of wrestling falling into disrepute. The promoters of the sixties did demonstrate that they had learnt something from the previous generation and provided sufficient training facilities for potential professionals  to learn at least the basics of the trade before stepping into the ring.

Known to fans as an all action, value for money wrestler, and to promoters as a reliable worker, bookings increased gradually for Ace Ricardo to the point that he was able to turn professional full time, with regular bookings from Jack Taylor, Brian Dixon, Terry Goodrum, Orig Williams, Bill Clark and other independent promoters. Other far more well known wrestlers failed to secure enough bookings to wrestle full time but Ricky was willing to travel around the country and gained a reputation amongst promoters as a good worker.

Working for Joint Promotions Rick dropped the name Ace Ricardo and used his birth name of Ricky Wiseman. Contests against the big names of the business quickly followed; Vic Faulkner, Alan Dennison, Jim Breaks, Mick McMichael, Sid Cooper, Mal Sanders, Cliver Myers and others. Ricky found that he could hold his ground with all of them, and he was soon gaining new fans around the country.

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