WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

K: Alan Kilby


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Alan Kilby is a man that transcends generations. There’s the generation to which we belong, who watched the clean cut twenty-something from his earliest days in 1967 battling other youngsters like Ian Gilmoure and Mike Dallas to the generation that watched him forty years later still competing for championship honours and tagging alongside his son, Adam. If prizes were given for longevity then the Sheffield light heavyweight  would have a sideboard full of them. 

Alan certainly gained British championship honours as a five times heavy middleweight champion between 1981 and 1984, and five times light heavyweight champion between 1985 and 2001. An impressive record by any standard but in wrestling, of course, the majority of fans do not measure success with a belt count. Success is much more about the amount of enjoyment a wrestler gives to the paying public, and in those terms Alan Kilby was a success. Not just in those forty years of active service but right into the 2020, when we are left with the memories, whenever wrestlers and fans meet together few are more popular or respected than Alan Kilby. 

Born in Sheffield in 1943 Alan trained for two years before turning professional. Entry to the pro ranks is a challenge for any wrestler, but for Alan there was an additional challenge that he has overcomes in all aspects of his life, which is that he is profoundly deaf. Whilst not depreciating the challenges of his deafness we would emphasise that Alan should be celebrated simply because he was a very good wrestler.

Shortly after turning professional Alan took up a regular tag pairing with another Sheffield wrestler, Mike Eagers. Mike, also deaf, had already formed a successful tag partnership with London’s Harry Kendall, known collectively as The Silent Ones. Although Eagers and Kendall had established themselves since their 1966 pairing their homes 200 miles apart did cause some matchmaking difficulties. In October, 1967 the solution was found by forming a second Silent Ones team, Eagers and Alan Kilby in the north, Eagers and Harry Kendall in the south. In subsequent years Alan went on to form Silent Ones partnerships with both Harry Kendall and another Sheffield lad, Tim Lomas. Eagers, Lomas and Alan were all pupils of the Maud Maxfield School in Sheffield.

Popular on television Alan was crowned winner of the ITV Wrestling 25th Anniversary Trophy in 1980, defeating Alan Dennison in the final of the eight man knock out tournament. It was, by his own admission, one of his finest moments. Other fine moments were those British championship successes. He won the Heavy Middleweight championship in October, 1981, when he defeated King Ben to win the vacant title at Preston’s Guild Hall. A fierce rivalry with Belfast’s Dave Finlay saw the title see-saw between the two of them over the next three years before losing it against Chic Cullen in March, 1984.

Moving up to the Light Heavyweight division he defeated Steve Logan of Birmingham to win the British championship in January, 1985, which he held for over a decade apart from four short term losses. By the early 2000s pro wrestling infrastructure had become even more defragmented than usual and the title lineage is hazy, but it was reported Alan was still light heavyweight champion in 2001 and Revolution British Wrestling Champion from 2004 until 2007. 

From the late 1980s onwards Alan was joined in the ring by his son, Adam, and the two often tagged together.

In July 2009 Alan received  a lifetime achievement award from Birmingham’s Deaf Cultural Centre  for his work as an ambassador for the deaf community. 

It’s all about the memories here on Heritage, and our members have many good memories of Alan:

Bill Smith: “Alan always looked to be very fit, and gave 100% in all.”
Sapper James:  “I remember Alan tagging with his son, Adam, against Ricky Knight and Jimmy Ocean at Holbeach in 1992. They fell out for real and there was a huge row in the changing rooms after the bout.”
SaxonWolf: “Alan was a genuine hard nut, worked night club doors in Sheffield”
Rasit Huseyin: “Alan Kilby was a great wrestler. Always gave value for many in clean bouts or against heels, particularly Fit Finlay or Skull Murphy.”

At the time of writing (December, 2021) Alan and daughter Tracy often attend the Wrestlers’ Reunions.