A: Ansell- Apollo
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
“The Wandsworth Whale” was the 16 stone brother of 1930s legend Norman the Butcher. As far as wrestling was concerned Jack was overshadowed by his younger brother. That is hardly surprising as John George Ansell, eldest son of George and Florence, was born in 1895, making him 35 years old when All-In wrestling was introduced to Britain in December, 1931. Ansell was involved from the start, but seems to have disappeared from our rings by the end of 1935.
See the entry for Norman the Butcher
Read our extended tribute in Personality Parade: Bob Anthony
Romford’s Chris Anthony was not only a skilful welterweight he was also the younger brother of Bob Anthony and son of the great Bob Archer O'Brien. Chris became involved in wrestling as a second for the independent promoters. He was keen to learn and older brother, Bob, was a good tutor. Many of his earlier bouts were as Bob's tag partner against other young tag teams, most memorably Jon and Peter Cortez. Away from big brother Chris was more than capable of taking care of himself against the top wrestlers on both the independent and Joint Promotions circuits. .
Saturday Nights for Fighting, Street Fighting Man, The Fighting Side of Me, those could well be a few choices for wrestler Colin Anthony chosing his desert island discs. That's because Colin was a man of music who turned to wrestling and though it's approaching forty years since he hung up his boots he's still involved in the music business. The name Colin Anthony was a creation of the time he played in a band which he carried through to his wrestling days. It was the name chosen by Paul Yeomans from Balham in Kent, a teenage musician who was also interested in judo. In the mid 1960s Paul joined his local youth club to pursue his interest in judo.
But wrestling has a knack of capturing people unaware and changing the direction of their lives. That's what happened to Paul. At the Youth Club he met Al Hollamby, an experienced judo enthusiast who not only wrestled but was setting out as a promoter, Verdun Leslie Promotions, in partnership with his friend Roger Sandilands.
The long and short of the story is that Al offered to teach Paul how to wrestle and Paul the judoka became Colin Anthony the wrestler. In 1968 Colin made his professional debut and soon established himself as a popular welterweight around the south of England. The majority of his matches were for Verdun-Leslie Promotions, with occasional other bouts for members of the BWA. For seven years Colin worked the independent rings facing men such as Bob Courage, Roger L Sandilands and Vince Randell.
They were great times. Hard times also, as like most wrestlers Colin was holding down a full time daytime job. He worked for the Royal Mail every day before travelling to his bookings.Great memories though, such as the time he had to batter Al Hollamby far more than he would have liked to protect his boss from a female fan wielding a metal object in her bag.
It all came to an end too soon. Sometimes the complexities of life just get in the way and family commitments led to Colin leaving the ring in 1975 and taking up work for the Royal Mail.
Back in the old days we knew who the bad guys were because we has rules. Admittedly some of the wrestlers didn't seem to understand that concept, but without that we wouldn't have had so much fun and wouldn't have villains.
Here we had a villain of the first order. The black tights, the trimmed beard, the heavily tattooed arms, and a snarl at the audience left few in doubt that here was a wrestling baddie. Those not persuaded at once were usually convinced as the first round opened with blind side moves, failure to break on the ropes and a few more snarls and complaints to fans and referee. Mark Anthony reached British shores in 1968, and again in 1972, travelling here from his native Australia as part of an extensive world tour. Anthony was rewarded with a 1968 Royal Albert Hall outing against Tibor Szakacs, which he dutifully lost. In fact, Mark Anthony did the right thing on most occasions, and made the British boys look good!
We watched this Pakistani welterweight in the northern independent rings of the 1960s against opponents such as Ray Taylor, Hamid Ali Gill and The Zulu. We remember a capable wrestler who lacked the charisma to make him memorable. We just hope that unknowing to us he changed his name and became a superstar! We'd be interested to learn more about him.
Indian Rashid Anwar began wrestling for money in 1936, shortly after he had competed in the 1936 Olympic Games. Two years earlier he had won a bronze medal in the Empire Games. It was claimed that he had been welterweight champion of India on no fewer than eight occasions. We find him wrestling at Doncaster in November, 1936, conceding weight but much the cleverer wrestler as he defeated Al Fuller. Skill was in evidence again, in march, 1937, when he was said to be faster and smarter than British middleweight champion Billy Riley. Anwar was leading Riley by one fall when the Wigan man was disqualified for deliberate fouling. Working as an ambulance driver during the war he seems to have disappeared from our rings in 1941, albeit for a short return in 1957 Rashid Anwar continued to live in London post war until his death. Born 12th April, 1910, he died in Camden, aged 73, in 1983.
Johnny “Greek” Apollo hailed from Athens and wrestled on both sides of the Atlantic as well as Australia. Having wrestled as an amateur in Tripolis Johnny turned professional in 1960. This was after moving to Montreal, where he had been trained in the ways of the professional world by Tony Lanza at the Montreal YMCA. Following early success in Canada he moved on to the United States, then Australia, and eventually Europe. He was always immaculately dressed as he entered the ring in his velvet dressing gown. Johnny was a popular stockily built mid heavyweight performer in British rings in the early 1960s, making his first appearances northern rings and Scotland during the winter of 1962. He set up home in Brixton, London, and appeared in the south of England the following winter, when he also gained national exposure by losing through a knock-out to Bill Howes in a 1963 televised contest. He returned to television screens again during his 1965 visit, facing Welshman Tony Orford. For professional purposes we understand he changed his name from Charialaos Tsimogiannis to Johnny Apollo. We wonder why?