British wrestling history          
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B: Barnes - Barratt

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Sailor Barnes
We uncovered around a dozen matches around the country for Londoner Sailor Barnes between 1934 and 1939. He may well have passed under the radar and gone without mention until we discovered family connections. Born in Camberwell, his father was a coachbuilder, he had four brothers and two sisters. Amongst the brothers were wrestler Wally Dix and a man who was to go on to become one of the top referees in the country, Lou Marco.

Lloyd Barnett
Former boxer Lloyd Barnett wrestled the big names around Britain and Europe during the 1950s. Opponents included  Dave Armstrong, Don Mendoza, Francis St Clair Gregory, Karel Istaz and the rest. Jamaican born Lloyd's boxing career had spanned six years, including losses to big names  like Don Cockell and Ingemar Johansson. He retired from boxing in June, 1953.

Prince Barnu
Not to be confused with the New Zealander Prince Banu.  

In the 1960s when we read heard about this exotic sounding star we were hooked. 

But this alleged Brazillian of the 1960s independent halls was Coventry's  Fred "Darkie" Barnes, a scrap dealer   who trained wrestlers at St Peter's School Gym in Hillfield, Coventry in the 1960s. One of Coventry's colourful characters and a good friend of Adolph Dabrowski.  Prince Barnu was a regular worker for Jack Taylor, and included Randy Turpin amongst his opponents.  

Fred wrote a regular wrestling column for the Coventry telegraph. 

A popular figure amongst all those who knew him and were quick to testify he was a very nice man, friends and family were shocked when Fred collapsed and died at his scrap yard in Baginton July 1989. 

Robby Baron
When he joined the professional ranks this teenager was billed as Young Robby, for obvious reasons. His speed, skill and looks made him an immediate favourite throughout the south. To be honest, he never ventured far north, but he did transfer his talent successfully from Paul Lincoln, the independent promoter, to Dale Martin Promotions. Changing his name to Robby Baron (his real name was Tapsell) Robby soon became a 1960s and 1970s favourite throughout the south, and the rest of the country via the miracle of television.  He was closely associated with Mick McManus throughout his career, driving the main eventer around in his heyday, with recompense of an appearance on the day’s number one tv show, the Generation Game, as usual with McManus.  Seemed set to develop into a heavyweight contender, but Young Robby rather drifted away unheralded about 1975. Robby Barron passed away in September, 2010.

Henry Yori remembers his old friend Robby Baron.

"I first met Robbie as I knew him in 1976/77 when I was working at Peckham bus garage and he had taken over The Red Bull pub next to the garage. I approached him for a job as a weekend resident DJ. We hit it off from the start and he was a fair employer with a lovely sense of humour. We had a great launch night with many wrestlers from the great TV bouts all turning up to support him. I remember Mick McManus, Catweazle, Wayne Bridges and Johnny Kwango drinking at the bar with Robbie. all were very approachable and friendly.

I met his mum Joy and they lived above the pub for about 2 years with their large white poodle Vienna. They then moved to The Queens Head pub in Green St Green near Orpington Kent. I stayed in touch with them and eventually went to live with them with my girlfriend. I did the bar work and she did the food. He was a wonderful host and we had many regulars and I still remember his great laugh. I eventually left for pastures new but still kept in touch with him.

He really was a lovely man and the community got to know, love and respect him. He would talk about Wrestling if you asked him but he never bragged or became big headed. I got the impression that the promoters made the money and no wrestler became as rich as today's TV Sports stars. I still have the 7 inch vinyl record he gave me on Pye Records of When We All Go in the ring to the tune of When All The Saints. He is a great loss as a wrestler, friend and person."
Nick Barone (Michele Barone)
The 17 stone man from Rome who claimed to be the heavyweight champion of Italy visited Britain in during the winter of 1966-7 facing top heavyweights Tibor Szakacs, Mike Marino, Gwyn Davies, and Bruno Elrington.  Was well known throughout Europe and workied for the WWWF in the United States.

Blondie Barratt (Bob Nickerson, Grim Reaper, Dunk,  Happy Humphrey, Rock 'n' Roll Express)
In the mid 1970s, a time when British wrestling was beginning to show signs of age, a new kid appeared on the block,  Bob "Blondie" Barratt. Unlike most newcomers of the time this one had a bucketful of talent and two bucketfuls of charisma. We only wish Bob had been born twenty years earlier so that we could have enjoyed watching him during wrestling's greatest years. He would have been a star in any age. 

Bob became an increasingly popular figure in 1970s British wrestling with a memorable feud with Johnny Kidd and clashes with Rollerball Rocco, Dave Finlay and Giant Haystacks. The "Rock and Roll Express" moniker and more colourful outfits only embellished his place in 1980s wrestling. Most memorable of all, though, is Bob's long running tag partnership with Kendo Nagasaki. 
 As we enter the second decade of the twenty first century he trains new entrants to the business and in 2003 started a successful British promotions, Rebel Pro Wrestling.

Irish Ivor Pat Barratt
The red haired Irishman was a popular 1960s figure in British rings and we remember him entering the ring carrying his sheleighly, a sure warning to any wayward villain. Not long after his professional debut in 1958 Ivor had itchy feet and was soon working regularly on the continent, especially in Germany. With his wanderlust unsatisfied in the winter of 1962 Pat  travelled across the Atlantic and gained  success and fame in North America, working for both the NWA and WWWF.  Between 1966 and 1968 he returned to Britain frequently enough for fans to remember him, but was simultaneously developing an American career forming successful tag partnerships (and later feuds) with both Tim Geoghegan and Don Leo Jonathan. Further success came in winning the WWWF tag team culminating championship alongside Dominic Denucci.  On 15th May 1975 Pat wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight championship, losing by a knock out. Having wrestled throughout the United States, Australia, new Zealand and the Pacific islands Pat returned to Ireland where he had his last contest in 1985.est in 1985.

Page revised 10/3/19: Addition of Sailor Barnes and Nick Barone