WRESTLING HERITAGE

A: Armstrong - Auwera

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Jack Armstrong
Croydon heavyweight who appeared in 1978 and seemed headed for the moon after an initial dozen or so bouts against Dusty Miller.  He progressed, in the language of the time, to becoming a tag partner of Big Daddy's, and was set for a televised début against Haystacks and Big Bruno Elrington at the end of September.  We may never know what led to Armstrong's replacement by Gary Wensor in that bout, and Armstrong's career  soon fizzled out that autumn.

Jim Armstrong (Also known as Rasputin)
Leeds heavyweight who seems to have wrestled mainly in the North and Midlands during the 1950s and 1960s. Despite meeting some of the big names of the time, such as Jack Pye, Ian Campbell and Albert Wall,  Jim Armstrong never reached the heights of his more famous namesake.  He was recognised in the mid 1960’s as British Heavyweight Champion by the independent promoters. Possibly his main claim to fame was appearing in the main event of BBC 1s first televised wrestling tournament. It was in May, 1965, that he wrestled Edouard Carpentier in front of the BBC cameras in Brighton. On occasions Jim would pull on a mask, take on a limp, place a glove over his allegedly disfigured hand and (according to the posters) assume the strength of four men as the masked Rasputin.

Tony Armstrong
Many appearances on Paul Lincoln shows in 1962 and then seemingly disappeared. Possible retirement or change of name, we would like to know.

Sailor Jack Arnold
Muscular North American heavyweight visited Britain between September 1934 and May 1935, sharing his time with wrestling in France. He had  been a professional for about four years in the United States

Paco Arranda
Made a four week visit to Britain in November 1958 working for Dale Martin Promotions. Opponents included Steve Logan, Mick McManus, Tommy Mann and Harry Fields.

Jose Arroyo
The bald headed Spaniard from Madrid was an obsessive globetrotter who travelled the rings of the world displaying his technical skill, though he could undoubtedly  mix it with the best of them. Arroyo was a regular feature of British rings in the 1960s, tackling the best on offer. 

We find him first in British rings in November, 1959, opponents including Alan Garfield, Dennis Mitchell, Geoff Portz and Judo Al Hayes at the Royal Albert Hall. The tour lasted until the end of January.

Jose was back in Britain the following January, again top opponents including The Zebra Kid and Count Bartelli, but television losses against John Allan and Mike Marino, and another defeat at the Royal Albert Hall by Al Hayes. Unlike many visiting stars Jose did travel extensively during these tours and appeared in all parts of the country.

The January until March 1962 seems to have been confined to the midlands, north of England and Scotland, returning for a fourth visit just for southern fans in February, 1964, and back to natiowide travel in 1965.

The 1966 visit brought a return to the Royal Albert Hall and another loss, this time succumbing to Tibor Szakacs. For such a talented wrestler the promoters gave this man no breaks!  1966 v was Jose Arroyo's last visit to British rings.

The Spaniard was equally popular in Germany where he was a regular competitor in the German tournaments, and also regularly worked in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and Japan as late as 1981.

Ebo Ashanti (Also known as Billy Masadula)
We have little to offer about the short lived appearances of Ebo Ashanti. A fellow wrestler tells us that the Leicester wrestler started out as Billy Masafula and he had met him on a Jack Taylor show, which leads us to suspect Leicestershire's Taylor played a part in his training. It was Max Crabtree who renamed Masadula as Ebo Ashanti when he used him on his shows in October and November 1978.  A reported win over Ted Heath stands out amongst less than glorious results against Peter Kaye, Bert Royal, John Naylor. He took part in a number of 2v1 matches (with various partners) against Giant Haystacks. We would certainly like to learn more.


Syd Askin   
Edward William Sydney Askin came into the world during hard times. He was born in Staincross, a village near Barnsley in Yorkshire, on 17th May, 1939, a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The boy brought up in wartime Yorkshire was  to become known to the wrestling world as Judo Syd Askin, and he was a hard man. When Wrestling Heritage interviewed Syd in 2012, by which time he was in his early seventies, he remained an imposing figure. 

Stamina and strength weren't the only qualities of a good wrestler that had resulted from years working deep beneath the ground at Goldthorpe and Highgate Colliery near Doncaster. The dangerous underground environment also demanded good communications and co-operative skills, which Syd reminded us were also essential qualities of successful wrestlers. 

With a background in boxing and judo Syd was watching wrestling on television  when he  thought, "I could do that." With a mixture of confidence and cheek he telephoned promoter George de Relwyskow and talked himself into a trial. Syd knew that George was understandably sceptical of the youngster, after all he had seen many boastful youngsters

When Syd removed his shirt to uncover his mighty chest, the promoter made a quick re-assessment and knew that here was a big, powerful lad. The big, powerful lad then demonstrated that he had the potential to make a wrestler and was invited to learn the business, though was left in no doubt that it would take a lot of hard work. Hard work was something that didn't worry Sid. He turned professional in 1972.  It was a steep learning curve, and in those first few weeks he went down to Tibor Szakacs, Pete Roberts, Roy St Clair, Gwyn Davies, Ray Steel; there was no easy ride for this youngster.

The following year Syd appeared on television, opposing Roy St Clair, Steve Logan and Caswell Martin, not all at the same time obviously!  He lost all three matches, but was gaining valuable experience. That would serve him well for the years to follow in a career that lasted until the early 1980s.. Most of Syd's matches were working for Relwyskow & Green Promotions, which took him throughout the midlands, northern England and Scotland. 

Throughout all this time Syd's love of judo had never dimmed. The Judo Syd tag was no colourful invention of a creative promoter. He took only twenty months to reach black belt first dan, and reached the standard of a level 3 judo coach. For  twenty-five  years he taught judo in Malta and during his wrestling career opened  and trained youngsters in at least four judo clubs.  

Syd Askin died on 30th November, 2017

Bruno Asquini
The bald headed  Bruno Asquini was a rugged, cauliflower-eared middleweight who  came to British shores in the spring of 1961.  This first of numerous visits was to work for the independent promoters, with opponents including George Kidd and Ken Joyce, who were at that time also working for the opposition. 

The weather and the food couldn't have been too bad because he returned in 1965, a tour, this time at the invitation of Joint Promotions. Opponents included bouts with Clayton Thomson on television and Les Kellett at the Royal Albert Hall; both hard matches that ended in knock-out defeats. 

It was a happier outcome on his third visit in July 1968 when he wrestled in the presence of HRH Prince Philip, defeating Steve Logan as a member of the French team with Jean Corne, Gil Cesca, and Jacques Lageat  against the London team of Mick Mcmanus, Jackie Pallo, Steve Logan and Al Hayes.

Craven Atkins
A busy worker around Southern England from 1950 until 1954. His sudden disappearance  makes us wonder if he changed his name to someone else we know.

Maurice Atkinson
A welterweight from Bradford worked regularly throughout the north of England during the 1950s, opponents including Jim Mellors, Danny Flynn and Bernard Murray. Worked for Joint Promotions during the 1950s, drifting across to the independents in 1960 and disappearing shortly afterwards. 

Cliff Attenborough
1930s heavyweight, recorded as 15 stones and standing a shade over six feet tall, with a very good record against top men. We come across him for the first time in 1934 when he defeats Phil Siki, a win which suggests he was a wrestler of note. Reports state that he was a skilled and orthodox wrestler who stuck within the rules, something of a rarity it seems in the 1930s. Other victories included Black Butcher Johnson, King Curtis and Dan Davey. The real powerhouses, such as Douglas Clarke, did prove too strong for Cliff, but reports state that he always gave a good account of himself.

Cliff Attenborough was born Clifford George Attenbarrow on 2nd February, 1901 in Aston, Birmingham. Mostly billed from Birmingham by 1939 we find him living in Southwark, London,  with his wife Lilian, occupation stated as wrestler and Physical Training Instuctor. Prior to wrestling he served in the Army, in the Guards Regiment, and was sometimes billed Ex Guardsman Attenborough. He was reputed to be the strongest man in the British army.

After attended Morley College Westminster, as a sculpture student in wood, stone and clay. In 1946 he joined the staff of the college as a physical training instructor. He died in 1977.

Aussie the Butcher
Another of those names associated with the 1930s. The Australian Assassin Aussie The Butcher was one of the stars of the all-in days, colourful and big with seemingly little in the way of wrestling finesse. He was first seen in 1935 and travelled all around the country facing the big names of the day.  He disappeared from our rings when the Second World Was broke out.

Bert Auwera 
Bert, or Albert van der Auwera as he was sometimes more grandly known was a genuine The farmer from Belgium made a short visit to Bitain in March, 1939. The Second World War intervened and there are reports that he was taken prisoner of war. Bert returned to Britain in 1946 and each year until 1950. He was a skilfull and successful wrestler, holding the European and Belgian heavyweight title, having a number of memorable bouts with the great Bert Assirati. In the 1950s he spent a significant amount of time in Spain, where he helped popularise the sport.

Reviewed 07/02/2022