WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

B: Arni Bullough


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Arni Bullough


(The Durham Ox, The Northumberland Ox)

Brian Bullough was born in wartime Northumberland, the town of  Ashington in 1941, one of six children. It's a name that means little to most of those in the wrestling business, but mention Arni Bullough and it's a different matter. We guarantee two things will happen. First will come the big smile. It seems that everyone liked Arni. Secondly they will tell you he was a big lad. As indeed he was. Arni Bullough weighed around seventeen stones and fully deserved his nicknames "The Durham Ox" and "The Northumbrian Ox."

Sam Betts, who worked as Dwight J Ingleburgh, knew Arni well and wrestled him quite a few times. When we asked Sam about him first came the smile followed by "Arni Bullough, 'e wur a big lad."  Sam told us that his first encounter with Arni was soon after Arni had turned professional, and he was a bit raw to put it kindly, "He was hard work, so strong but unsure how to use his strength. He was a bouncer at the night clubs, and he bounced me all over the ring." Sam reassured us that Arni soon learned the ropes, pardon the pun, and in the years that followed they had some good matches and became good friends.

Jimmy Devlin was another good friend of Arni. He followed the same routine, a smile and then a reminder of how big Arni was. Jimmy was too light to wrestle Arni but they saw each other regularly as Arni would visit Jimmy's mother most weeks to eat her stotties, which Jimmy reckoned were the best in Teeside, "He could eat a dozen of them," said Jimmy.

We warned Les Prest that we knew Arni was big and there was no need to mention it. So Les just smiled, and then couldn't help telling us he was a big man. Les told us that Arni was a very hard man who worked for the National Coal Board in Ashington and was a keen member of the Territorial Army.  Arni's son, Dean, confirmed that his dad was in the T.A. until forced to leave following a hit and run accident. On leaving school he worked as a mechanic and later a fitter for the National Coal Board at Ashington Colliery.

What was clear from all those we spoke to was just how much they liked Arni. 

As for the wrestling Arni started out in the early 1960s, when he was in his early twenties. Arni claimed he was self-taught and learned to wrestle with a wrestler from Choppington called Tom Berry. Match experience came from working on fairground booths, working long hours and taking on local challengers.

It was no great surprise that he took up wrestling as Arni was interested in lots of sports as a youngster, especially combat sports judo, jujitsu and boxing. He was a regular fan at the Saturday night shows at the New St James Hall in Newcastle.

Around the halls he worked for independent promoters, mainly in the North East, such as Don Robinson, Jim Stockdale and Hardwick Promotions. Opponents included Toma Hansom, Dwight J Ingleburgh, The Blue Angel, Al Martinelli and Lord Bertie Sinclair. 

Arni continued wrestling into the 1970s. Remember the name Arni Bullough. Remember he was a big lad, but more importantly a very nice man. Arni Bullough died in 2014, aged 73.