C: Alf Cadman & Ken Cadman
Old Time Class
and a Clobber
Crafty Ken Cadman
Rough-house Alf was the heavier, the rougher and the more villainous of the Cadman brothers who were regulars throughout northern rings for the best part of thirty years.
Alf was a rule-bending Lancashire heavyweight from Bolton. He could enrage fans with his blatant illegal moves. Taking an interest in wrestling from fifteen years of age, training as an amateur at Manchester YMCA,.
Not uncommon in wrestling circles Alf's entry to the professional ranks resulted from a quirk of fate. He was an amateur at the Manchester YMCA when he went to watch a professional show. When one of the wrestlers failed to turn up Alf was asked to step in by the promoter. The MC thought Alf's surname, Edge, was unsuitable for a pro wrestler and quickly re-named him Alf Cadman, after boxer Joe Cadman who had once given the MC a good beating!
Shortly after his first bout Alf was called –up to the Royal Navy, and became a full time professional in 1946. He was to wrestle as a full time professional for the next twenty years. He left Joint promotions in 1968 and spent the following three years working the independent promoters halls of the north.
Always a popular (or unpopular) figure Alf met the best in the business, and although he could point to wins over Eric Taylor, Alan Garfield Joe Cornelius and Billy Joyce he always remained on the edge of those who were considered to be at the very top. A tag partnership with Ireland’s Frank O’Donell was followed by a more enduring and successful teaming with little brother Ken.
Fellow wrestler and long time friend Eddie Rose adds his memories of Alf Cadman.
Alf Cadman was a Salford lad who later lived in Bury. His wrestling career started, like so many wrestlers in the Manchester area, at the YMCA where his potential was spotted by professional promoter, Arthur Wright of Wryton Promotions.
Alf's career started at Hanley when he was in his late teens, a career that was interrupted by the Second World War but continued for the next thirty-odd years. Alf became one of the best professional wrestlers to ever grace the British wrestling scene and a browse through his record shows that he wrestled just about every wrestler from welterweight up to heavyweight.
His wrestling was not confined to the UK and remembered with pleasure a tour of India in the '40s with the legendary Bert Assirati. Alf never wrestled Assirati but studied him at close quarters and rated him as one of the great heavyweights alongside Billy Joyce and Bill Robinson.
The younger of the Edge brothers, Ken dropped the family name when he followed big brother Alf into the professional ring.
Ken's style of villainy was just that bit more sophisticated than his brother and earned him the nickname Crafty Ken. Like his brother Ken was a regular worker and well known figure in the post war wrestling scene, but always seemed overshadowed by big brother.
Ken’s wrestling career was severely hindered by a serious injury which resulted in an early retirement for most of the 1950s. Ken returned to the ring in 1960 and although he did wrestle in singles matches found his greatest success in tag partnership as one half of the Crafty Cadmans.
His tag partnership with brother Alf was one of the most successful tag pairings of the 1960s, taking on the villains role against popular pairings such as the White Eagles, the Royal Brothers and the Stewarts. For a few years Ken was the regular trainer at the Wryton Stadium, Bolton, Sunday morning training sessions for professional wannabees, and was responsible for creating a number of stylish 1970s professionals.
Alf was a frequent traveller and wrestled in Germany, Austria, France and Spain regularly, often accompanied by his wife, Betty, an ex-professional dancer.
I only got to know Alf towards the end of his career, appearing on a number of shows with him. One of the great influences in my career was Alf's brother, Ken who ran training sessions for aspiring and new professional wrestlers at the Wryton Stadium in Bolton on Sunday mornings.
Ken, along with Jack Atherton, helped train and polish so many of the wrestlers who came to the fore in the late'60s and '70s like Paul Mitchell, Barry Ryan, Johnny South, Paul Duval.Alf and Ken formed a famous tag team who battled the likes of the Royals, the Cortez Brothers, Hell's Angels, The Dangermen, Dennison & Cooper and other top tag teams the length and breadth of the UK. They always gave top value to the audiences.
Alf broke his neck during about with Billy Howes and then drove home from Crewe in agony and it was a couple of days later that the extent of the damage was discovered. The consultant told Alf that he had been a millimetre away from almost total paralysis and even death.One wrong move would have sheared through his spinal cord with dire results.
Alf then became a successful bookie with premises in Sunnybank, Bury, a business in which he excelled and which he enjoyed. He became a member of the local business community.
After a gap of many years, I encountered Alf again at Silver's Gym in Bury where he was a regular attender with his son who was recovering from a road accident. In his mid-seventies, he worked out energetically and joked that he was still waiting for a phone call from Wrytons with a sub job.
One of his great qualities was his quiet sense of humour and whenever we met he would soon have us both laughing with a wrestling anecdote. Ray Plunkett found a whole ream of Alf's wrestling bouts and results. I used to take them round to Alf and we've sit on the settee as he went through the lists commenting on this bout and that: Bartelli, Jack Beaumont, Billy Howes, Mike Marino, Ernie Riley, Dennis Mitchell, Jack Atherton, Tony Charles; the names rolled out like a Who's Who of wrestling and gave Alf endless hours of enjoyment. The records now remain with Betty and the family as treasured memories of a great career.
Alf passed away in 2012. I miss seeing his car with its ALF numberplate motoring around Bury but not as much as the wrestling community and his family will miss him. Alf was a great wrestler and an outstanding man and will be long remembered.
Page revised: 5/3/19