British wrestling history 

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A: Ali - Allary

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Hassan Ali Bey

One of the most prolific heavyweight performers of the 1950s and 1960s, and a regular of the tv screens in the first ten years or so of televised wrestling.

Hassan Ali Bey wrestled, and sometimes defeated, just about every big name heavyweight of the time.

The red fez, spectacles and a white towelling robe were the hallmark of the “Strong man of the East” as he entered the ring. Despite being one of those colourful characters that filled the halls few fans were aware of the background of the man beneath the red fez.

Hassan Ali Bey was actually Demera Mashavias, but he took his ring name from his father, who we were told was a member of the British Embassy in Ankara.

Born in Turkey Hassan Ali Bey was educated in Britain. He turned professional wrestler in 1944, making his debut in a tumultuous tussle with Doncaster’s Jack Pye.

Based in Manchester for much of his professional life Hassan Ali Bey  combined wrestling with successful business interests. In later years the outside interests took over and he was seen less often in the ring, but he continued wrestling until well into the 1960s, and on one occasion at least held the legendary Bert Assirati to a draw.

Ali the Wicked (Little Alibi, Ali Baba, Abdul the Turk)

The name says it all.

Blind side of the referee and every rule broken Ali the Wicked was a powerful villain of the late 1930s. It was said that he possessed the strength of twenty men, though when opposing other powerful men this claim was brought into doubt!

Ali made a colourful sight as he entered the ring, adorned in a robe of red, green and gold,  his shaven head covered by a red fez. and a face dominated by a long, hanging moustache. With great care he would unroll the prayer mat he had carried to the ring, turn to the east and commence his prayer ritual, repeating it at the end of the contest. Between times God seemed the last thing on his mind.

As the name suggests Ali had no respect for  opponents or rules and a common routine was for Ali to pull his opponents hair only for the hero of the night to retaliate by pulling Ali's moustache, a consequence of which was for Ali to over-exaggerate the pain and indignantly jump up and down.

At least  three Ali the Wicked’s manifested themselves in UK rings. 

We believe our original Ali the Wicked was transformed post war to become Abdul the Turk (photo right) and consider the resemblance.

A second Ali the Wicked was a villain of the 1960s independent scene, whilst a third Ali the Wicked was wrestling in UK rings during the late 1970s.

Jack Alker

The memory of Jack Alker epitomises so much of the essence of Wrestling Heritage. He is one of those rarely recalled pioneers of wrestling who made his mark but could so easily be forgotten were it not for the enthusiasm of all those who contribute to our website. Although Jack is a man mostly  associated with the Pioneer years his  wrestling activities for a couple of years after the war ended qualify him for our Heritage A-Z.

Jack was born and Christened John Henry Alker  in September, 1906, in Hindley Green, near Wigan, and close to Ince where he later lived and his family still do. Life was hard when Jack was young; these were the 1920s and the reduction in miners' wages and consequent mining strike of 1926 took it's toll on mining communities around the country. Young Jack followed the well trodden route for young boys in south Lancashire of leaving school and entering adulthood working down the coal mine.

Many of the miners would spend their recreation time wrestling in fields. One such field near Jack's home in Higher Ince was known as the “Bowey,” and it was here that  his early wrestling knowledge was gained as he wrestled with (usually) bigger and older men. Bets would be placed on the outcome of the matches, with a trusted person posted to keep watch and ensure the illegal betting activities went unnoticed.

Jack embodied the qualities of 1920s and 1930s wrestling and wrestlers. A skilled, hard working man who used his not inconsiderable talents to provide for his family. Family consisted of his wife, Molly, a son of Molly's from her previous marriage, and their daughter, Doris. The photo on the left shows Jack (centre) at the wedding of his daughter Doris to Stanley; Jack's wife, Molly, stands on the left.

When professional wrestling began to regain popularity in the early 1930s Jack saw an opportunity to use the wrestling skills learned in the “Bowey” to supplement the money earned in the pit. He wasn't alone in making such a decision, of course, and his friends the Belshaw brothers and Scotty Ambrose also turned professional. The friends would train and travel together to matches around the north of England.

Jack was one of the best lighter weight wrestlers of the 1930s, recognised by some promoters as British Lightweight Champion between the years 1931 and 1936, with opponents of the calibre of Joe Reid, Harold Angus, Cliff and Jack Beaumont. His full time job restricted most of his matches to the north but this allowed regular appearances at major halls such as Newcastle St James Hall and Belle Vue, Manchester. Jack managed to continue with limited wrestling engagements during the second world war, finally disappearing from our rings in 1947.

Jack Alker died on 25th September, 1961, a few hours after one of his best friends, Scotty Ambrose.

Jack's daughter, Doris, who still lives in Ince has asked for help from Heritage readers. She recalls her father winning a Lonsdale belt (Lord Lonsdale was a fan and supporter of wrestling before the war). A photograph of her father wearing his belt went missing after being loaned to a family friend. Doris would very much like to find that photograph of her father and anyone with any information to get in touch with us at our usual address.

Alan Allan

There weres cheers all round for this popular London heavyweight who began to appear for the independent promoters in 1965, in the opposite corner to the likes of Jock Campbell, Mike Marino, Wayne Bridges and Don Stedman.

He was billed as a future star, moving across to Joint Promotions in 1966, but it was not to be.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Barry Allan

Barry Allan was the muscular 1970s mid heavyweight wrestler from Grimsby who made it into the Who's Who of Wrestling.

With no disrespect to Barry it remains a mystery over forty years later why some of whom few were aware made it into the Who's Who whilst big names like Les Kellett were excluded.

Barry Allan tackled the likes of Pete Roberts, Tony St Clair and Barry Douglas, a list of opponents that suggests he knew his way around the ring. but was destined to become another who failed to fulfil his initial promise.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Farmer Johnny Allan

Promoters always called him  the Farmer, and why should we doubt it?

Most wrestlers did need a second income to make ends meet despite the packed halls of the 1950’s and 1970’s, and Johnny Allan combined wrestling with running a small holding.

On leaving school at fourteen he began work at the Yorkshire Agricultural Committee and in his leisure time learned to wrestle. 

Farmer Johnny Allan was one of the great mid-heavyweights. He turned professional, aged 20, in 1951, after training as an amateur at the Greetland All Rounders Club. Within a short time he was matched with experienced men such as Carlton Smith, Steve Logan and Bob Archer O'Brien.

As a young middleweight he held both World middleweight champion Gilbert Le Duc and the light heavyweight champion  to drawn verdicts.  Growing in skill and size, from middleweight to a stocky, powerful Mid heavyweight, Johnny Allan  took the British Mid heavyweight title from Norman Walsh in 1964 and returned it to him in 1965.

Wrestling Heritage member Beancounter recalls, "I saw the Farmer wrestle many times, both on TV and in live bouts at Preston and Morecambe. He entered the ring wearing a short robe printed with pictures of farm animals and always gave of his best. I well recall a 1963 televised victory over the fearsome Zando Zabo and other 1960s bouts with top heavyweights including Tosh Togo (Mr Oddjob). "

Towards the end of his career Johnny Allan, still a classic wrestler, left Joint Promotions to begin promoting and wrestling on the independent circuit. His promotional patnership with Eric Taylor was liked and respected by fans and fellow wrestlers alike.

Farmer Johnny Allan passed away on January 11th 2013.

Read our tribute to Farmer Johnny Allan: Son of the Soil

Michel Allary

Popular French heavyweight  who regularly visited the UK in  1957,1958, 1960, and 1962, tackling the likes of Alan Garfield, Mike Marino and Bill Howes.

Knocked out by Dazzler Joe Cornelius at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1958 (right).

Michel Allary died in May, 2015, aged 82.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.