B: Barreto - Barry
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Cuban born heavyweight Luc Barreto arrived in Britain in October 1967, already domiciled in Spain where he was seeking Spanish nationality. Most of his contests were in northern England and Scotland with a couple of televised contests against Steve Veidor and Barry Douglas. His UK tour ended abruptly when we were told that he had to return to Spain to complete his citizenship application. Luc's career also ended abruptly. A serious injury in a match in Germany led to premature retirement, followed by a successful singing career during which he released thirty records.
Skilful and fast Bradford’s Dave Barrie was a popular young middleweight of the 1970s. He turned semi professional as an eighteen year old in 1966 and gave up the day job just a year later. For Dave the “day job” had been a variety of jobs that included a brickies labourer, lorry driving, car scrapping and pig farming; not surprising that wrestling had an appeal! By the late sixties he seemed to be everywhere and beat the best in the business: Breaks, Saint, Boscik all ended up on the wrong end of the decision. The results were inconsistent, though, and charisma lacked the ability to take him into the big time, despite the fact his ring name hid the fact that he was the son of one of wrestling’s greats, Les Kellett. Dave Barrie sadly died at far too young an age.
Stocky build and more than his fair share of black hair Tony Barrie was something of a Northern teenage sensation of the late sixties and early seventies. For a brief period the youngster seemed to be everywhere and destined for the top.
The Manchester youngster was the nephew of the old warhorse, Jim Hussey, and turned professional when he was just sixteen years old after showing an interest in judo and learning to wrestle at Black Panther's gym in Openshaw and the Failsworth Amateur Wrestling Club, which also nurtured Johnny Saint.
His professional debut resulted in a drawn verdict against Eddie Rose. In those days Manchester was a hotbed of wrestling activity and Tony gained initial experience for independent promoters before being quickly signed up to work for Wryton Promotions by Martin Conroy.
It all looked so promising, but came to nothing as Tony disappeared from our radar in the early 1970s. Eddie Rose recalled, “Tony used to come to the Black Panther's gym in Openshaw. I used to train with him and had several bouts with him in the Manchester area. He was a good lad and improving by the month when he dropped out of sight. I often wondered what became of him because he had great potential.” We would welcome information about this promising wrestler.
Bobby Barron (Also known as Dave Shillitoe)
A legend on his own pier. The Central Pier at Blackpool that is, which was one of the many Northern venues at which he promoted and wrestled. Our flippancy should not hide our respect for this man who made such a significant contribution to British wrestling and the lives of many young professionals. Bobby Barron was an influential figure in the wrestling scene of the 1970s and 1980s. A heavyweight who capitalised on the increasing acceptance of the gay lifestyle Beautiful Bobby enraged the fans as he preened himself in preparation of rule bending his way to winning or losing. Bobby was also an independent promoter and prolific trainer who encouraged and developed many professionals of the time, most notably Klondyke Kate, Steve Fury and Steve Regal, who went on to fame in America. The colourful character of Bobby Barron was a far cry from that of Dave Shillitoe, the popular young Yorkshireman who was to later transform himself into Beautiful Bobby, after learning the trade as a baker at his father’s insistence. Not once have we heard a bad word said against Bobby as a promoter though many wrestlers have sung his praise, “He always stayed one of the lads,” one of the other lads told us.
1980s twenty stone shaven headed, tattooed bruiser from Norwich worked for both the independent promoters, mainly in East Anglia, and for Joint Promotions under the stewardship of Max Crabtree. His moment of glory came in opposition to Marty Jones at the Royal Albert Hall in 1985 at the last Joint Promotions Royal Albert Hall promotion.
A flourishing domestic Manx wrestling scene in the late sixties and early seventies was headed by Phil Barry, a popular blond haired mid heavyweight from Douglas. Born in 1949 he was just 21 years old when we came across him, having been alerted to his potential by Stockport's Ian Wilson. Phil told us at the time that his match against Ian had been his most memorable, and this despite his opponents including Klondyke Bill and The Outlaw!
As a youngster Phil was an armchair fan watching wrestling on the television every Saturday afternoon and dreaming that one day he too would be in the ring. The opportunities for Phil were less than most, non existent in fact, because there were no wrestling clubs on the island at that time. Not until George Barnabus started a club that is, giving Tony and a handful of other islanders the chance to learn how to wrestle.
A tough start to his career against the giant Klondyke Bill in 1970 Phil was able to work fairly often during the summer season with twice weekly shows on the island, but with that reducing to monthly in the winter Phil found himself taking the three hour ferry crossing to the mainland to gain further experience. His ambition paid dividends and led to work for Joint Promotions, meeting top performers like Steve Veidor and Brian Goldbelt Maxine. Phil wrestled on the UK Joint circuit usually for Jack Atherton and Wryton Promotions, returning to the Isle of Man in later years.
Phil's interest in local politics led to his election as a Member of the Manx Parliament, the House of Keys, in 1986. Phil was to remain a MHK until 1996 and since then has continued to play an important part in manx Public life. For a time Phil was an ambulance driver and can now be found driving a taxi around the island, when he's not reading Wrestling Heritage that is.
One of the Uks youngest professionals, having his first paid bout in 1971 when just fifteen years old. A hairdresser by trade Tony was introduced to wrestling by his boss,Bill Kennedy, and learned the trade at the George Barnabus Wrestling Club. Tony lived in the Isle of Man where he tagged with Phil Barry, advertised as the Barry Brothers, but no relation.
Page revised 10/3/19: Addition of Tony Barron