A: Angel - Angus
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Maurice Tillet was The Angel, befriended and trained by Karl Pojello and unleashed on 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.”
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.
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.
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 memory 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
Wigan's William Henry was an older brother (by one year) of the much better known Harold Angus. Born in 1904 he was a diminutive wrestler described as a featherweight. We find him wrestling Jack Walsh of Manchester at Ashton-Under-Lyne in 1932 when it was reported that Billy was more speedy and clever than his opponent despite being fourteen years his senior. We find him involved in wrestling until the outbreak of the Second World War, but to nowhere near the extent of his younger brother.
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)
Revised 1/12/18 Billy Angus updated