British wrestling history 

has a name


A: Angel - Anthony

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

The Angel

Maurice Tillet was The Angel, befriended and trained by Karl Pojello and unleashed on the British wrestling public by Atholl Oakeley. Unleashed is a word we use because in a physical  sense he was certainly one of the oddest wrestlers to appear in the ring. Mind you, even though Tillet did suffer from a physical condition we have little doubt that promoter Oakeley made the most of his disfigurement, though claims that members of the public fainted when they saw him we do take with a pinch of salt.

Here's what Oakeley had to say about Maurice Tillet thirty years after he had been introduced by his friend, Karl Pojello. "No human being I had ever seen had looked like this creature, ambling along like a grotesque ape. It's overlong arms trained down by the shrunken sleeves, it's arms were thicker than a man's ankle."

Maurice Tillet suffered from acromegaly, a condition which results in the thickening of the bones and enlargement of the head and hands, "The things head was longer from forehead to chin than that of a horse," went on Oakeley.

By present day standards most would conclude that Tillet was exploited with his physical deformity used to make him a wrestling star, though no one has suggested Tillet was unhappy with being catapulted to stardom or treated unfairly. Wrestling journalist Charles Mascall presented a more balanced picture of the man, "This gentle giant was the finest of men, though, I must admit the first time I met him in the darkened passageway of a Bayswater rooming house, his appearance (he had a head the size of a horse, so publicity material often read) certainly caused me some surprise."

Oakeley introduced Tillett, now renamed The Angel, onto the British public. The advanced publicity caught the imagination of the fans, and disdain of the critics, but Angel certainly proved a sensation wherever he appeared, with huge numbers of fans turning up to see him wrestle Carl Reginsky, Bert Assirati and Bill Garnon. Angel and Sherry went to America in August, 1939, but he did return when peace resumed.

When  The Angel returned to Britain in October, 1948, Charles Mascall reported that 12,000 fans filled Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium to see him lose to Bert Assirati. Assirati got the first submission with a Boston Crab. The Angel pinned Assirati, quite an unusual occurrence, before submitting to leave Bert the winner.

Heritage member the late Allan Best told us. “He wrestled Pat Curry at King’s Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester. Curry was a good, clean fast wrestler but on the light side for handling the really big boys. Nevertheless he ran rings around Maurice but it was The Angel the punters had come to see and he obliged by applying the inevitable bear hug, a from waist-hold, using his undoubted power and letting Pat fall in a heap. Job done.”

The definitive story of the Angel - The Death Mask of Maurice Tillet

Frank Angel

Frank Angel was another student of the Ashdown Club alongside Bert Assirati, Atholl Oakeley and Robert Cook. Amateur heavyweight champion in 1928 he turned professional in the first year of the new All-In rules being introduced, 1931.  A big, powerful man he stood 6'4" tall and weighed around 16 stones, An all-round sportsman Angel was also proficient in rugby, swimming and polo.

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Johnny Angel (Sheffield)

We include two wrestlers known by the name Johnny Angel. First on the scene was a Sheffield wrestler born John Marsden. Welterweight Johnny worked for independent promoters in the north of England during the 1960s and also worked in Spain.

Like many wrestlers he was the landlord of two public houses in later life, the Grapes and the Captive Queen in Sheffield before retiring to Chesterfield and passing away, in January 2007, aged 76.

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Johnny Angel (Johnny Carol, Undertaker Gloom) (Doncaster)

A 1980s wrestler who really knew how to work a crowd, and one who would have made it to the top in the heyday of the postwar revival according to Dwight J Ingleburgh. Johnny Angel was just fourteen years old when he turned professional.

Mind you, wrestling was in his blood as he was trained by his father, Crazy Dave Adams. Like many others Johnny had dabbled in boxing before wrestling became the greater attraction. Early bouts were for Cyril Knowles and other independent promoters before moving across to Joint Promotions in 1990.

A muscular, aggressive wrestler Johnny was a great villain, sometimes pulling on a mask and adopting various names, probably most often remembered as one of the Undertakers tag team. During his career he tussled with some of the biggest names in the business, including Jim Breaks, Ray Steele, Barry Douglas and Giant Haystacks. On numerous occasions Johnny played the part of the hero and tagged with Big Daddy to put to right the baddies of the wrestling world. He retired from wrestling in 1996.

Billy Angus

Wigan's Billy Angus was an older brother  (by one year) of the much better known Harold Angus. As a demonstration that wrestling wasn't all Royal Albert Hall and Belle Vue shows. Harold's nephew sent us an eye-witness account of a post-war wrestling tour. The account was written over sixty years ago by Bill's uncle, Ray Atherton, who wrestled on the tour alongside Billy Angus.

1947 - The Big Top Wrestling Tour

Mr Jarman & Jim Angus were the promoters, Mr Jarman was to pay all wages.
A team of 8 wrestlers were organised, and in addition to wrestling at different venues, they also erected and dismantled the Big Top.   The other members of the team were:- Ray Atherton, Bill Angus, Gordon Richards, Glyn Morgan,& a lad from Wigan (cannot remember other names).

The lorry carrying the Big Top was driven by Bill Angus, accompanied by Ray Atherton. A Horrifying incident occurred when coming down a steep hill by Lincoln Cathedral. The brakes failed & Bill pumped the brake peddle and got enough pressure back to stop the lorry at the bottom of the hill----safely!

The places they performed at were :- Rotherham, Worksop, Gainsbrough, Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham, Derby, Tamworth, Evesham, Ross on Wye, Monmouth & Pontypool.

Not only did the team attend to the Big Top twice a day, they were also responsible for all the seating arrangements & Ring.

This was to be the last venue of the tour. They were to be paid in full on the morning of the last show. They slept underneath the lorry, covered with hessian sacks. They ate when and where they could. The following morning on awakening they found that Mr Jarman and "his lady friend" who had both lived comfortably in a touring caravan throughout the tour had absconded with the money & the team were left penniless, no money either for families waiting at home.

They abandoned the Big Top and lorry & hitch hiked home!!!

Donkey Work!!! (for nought)

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Harold Angus
Jimmy Angus

Wigan's Jimmy Angus was the oldest son of Bill and Ellen Angus. He was ten years senior of his more well known wrestling brother,  Harold Angus.

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Jack Ansell

“The Wandsworth Whale”  was the elder  brother of 1930s legend Norman the Butcher, and uncle of 1970s favourite Lee Bronson. Although he didn't achieve the fame of his brother Jack was well known in the 1930s rings and trained George Boganski.

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Bob Anthony

Bob Anthony, the wrestling beatle, was a  popular welterweight that appeared for independent and Joint Promotions during the 1960s. His skill and agility enabled him to travel the world, meeting and beating the best in the business.

He was one of a group of wrestlers chosen by Paul Lincoln to take part in a prestigious tour of the Far East in the early sixties.  Son of  Bob Archer O’Brien he had a notable 2-0 win over Alan Sargeant before the latter  took the British welterweight title.

Dad might well have known a lot about wrestling but he didn't know that  Bob was learning to wrestle at a local police gym! Trained by policeman, Tom Pinch, how's that for an appropriate name? 

When Bob turned professional, in 1956, it was a Devereux Promotions show at Wimbledon Palais, and the former British champion, Eddie Capelli, was in the opposite corner. Also on the same bill were Mike Marino, Bob McDonald, Eric Taylor, Bert Royal and Eddie Capelli. We can only imagine what must have gone through the youngster's mind that night.

Early in 1962 the formation of a wrestlers' trade union led to an ultimatum from Joint Promotions. Bob refused to sign any document restricting his right to work and moved across to the independent promoters, particularly Paul Lincoln Management and on his own shows. Bob returned to Join Promotions in January, 1966, when Paul Lincoln Management amalgamated with Dale Martin Promotions. 

Chris 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. 

 In January 1966 he was one of the wrestlers to transfer to Joint Promotions when Paul Lincoln Management amalgamated with Dale Martin Promotions. 

Colin Anthony

Saturday Nights for Fighting, Street Fighting Man, The Fighting Side of Me, those could well be a few choices for wrestler Colin Anthony choosing 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. Not that Colin's had a quiet time since then. After twenty-seven years of service in the Royal Mail he is now a broadcaster for Radio Caroline, co-presenter of the Americana Roots Country Show. The offshore station we listened to all those years ago is now land based and can be heard via a full time internet stream and restricted service broadcasts. Radio Caroline has for many years been a friend of Wrestling Heritage with reciprocal links for those that enjoyed the golden years of both wrestling and music radio.

Mark Anthony

Back in the old days we knew who the bad guys were because we had rules.

Admittedly some of the wrestlers didn't seem to understand the concept, but without a clear set of rules 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!.