A: Abdul The Turk

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A Mat Man with a Mat

Abdul The Turk
(Also known as Ali Baba, Ali the Wicked, Little Alibi)

Wrestling has never been short of colourful characters from around the globe. Abdul the Turks have appeared on professional wrestling bills from the beginning to the end of the Twentieth Century. Individuals with varying styles and skills, some from closer to Torquay than Turkey.  The most famous Abdul of them all came on to the British wrestling scene early in 1947.  At least that's what fans were led to believe. In reality Abdul the Turk had  manifested himself a decade earlier under the persona of Ali Babi. Or more commonly, Ali the Wicked.

We find Ali the Wicked in Britain in 1938, opponents including Harry Pye, Johnny Demchuk and Whipper Watson. Not one to be hindered by the mere technicalities of wrestling Ali relied on his strength, described as monstrous, supernatural,  and equal to that of twenty men. An exaggeration, but not a man to meet on the way home in the dark. His speciality finishing move, which he called a Spinal Drop, saw him bring his elevated opponent crashing down onto his bent knee and writhing around on the mat.

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 (he always carried a compass) 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.

Bernard Hughes recalls: "I remember  Abdul the Turk  doing his prayer mat thing and Jack Pye standing in the other corner watching. As Abdul got on the upswing with his arms Jack ran across the ring and kicked the prayer mat out of the ring. That started an unholy brawl which involved the two men and referee Les Kellett between them, trying to make them go to their corners. Les signalled to the timekeeper up in the box to ring the bell and the fight started from where they were at that time. Abdul's favourite move seemed to be to allow his opponent to get him in a headlock, then he proceeded to lift the other man from the floor and to smash the opponent's back across his bended knee.  He won many fights at Newcastle this way." 

Heavyweight greats including George Clark and Dave Armstrong fell to Abdul.  Defeats were far from unknown but many were a result of Abdul's disqualification.  Another frequent opponent was Bert Assirati. We cannot find any victories over Assirati, but there was one eventful contest at the Caird Hall, Dundee in October, 1947. Abdul took the lead over Assirati with a fall in just 51 seconds. In the third round Assirati applied his fearsome Boston Crab and Abdul submitted. Assirati refused to break the hold and the referee declared the match a "no contest."

Abdul was to remain part of the British wrestling scene until 1954. He  wrestled the likes of Bert Assirati, Dave Armstrong and Jack Pye, not to mention going out of the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament at Harringay in February, 1947, when he lost to Northerner Bert Mansfield. From the UK were Cornwall’s Francis St Clair Gregory, Welshman Bill Garnon, Northerners  Bill Foy, Bert Mansfield, Eastern Englands Clem Lawrence, and the UK based Trinadian Phil Siki. Also taking part were Estonian Martin Butch, Belgian Gaston Ghevaert, Greek Milo Popocopolis, Canadian carl van Wurden, Frenchman Ivan Martinson, and pre war legends Carl Reginsky, Karl Manooign, Abdul the Turk  and Issy Van Dutz, First round results saw single fall wins for Gregory over Butch, Ghevaert over Foy, Arrirati over Van Wurden,  Manoogian over Van Dutz, Mansfield over Abdul, Reginski over Lawrence, Martinsen over Siki and a win by the disqualification route for Popocopolis over Garnon.  

More Abdul's and Ali the Wicked's surfaced spasmodically during the 1960s and 1970s, but there was never any doubt about who was the real man with the mat.

Page added 27/1/19

Reviewed 01/02/2022