WRESTLING HERITAGE

B: Barreto - Bedford

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Luc Barreto
Cuban born in 1934 Lucas Valiente Tab  was a heavyweight who 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 matches 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.

Tony Barron 
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.

Tony Barry (Isle of Man)
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.

Tony Barry (Manchester)
Stocky build and  more than his fair share of black hair Tony Barry was something of  a Northern teenage sensation of the late sixties and early seventies. For a brief period he 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.

Al Bastien

Light heavyweight  Al Bastien, from Belgium, was a stylish wrestler with a scientific style that benefited from the strength resulting from his fanatical weight lifting regime.  Despite rarely venturing far from his Belgian home he made two short visits to Britain. In May 1962 he visited the south of England for two weeks, opponents including Don Branch, Steve Logan, Les Kellett and Tony Cassio. He returned in September, 1972, losing to Les Kellett at the Royal Albert Hall.

Billy Bates
1960s middleweight from York trained by Jim Grosert.  Billy's day job was a milkman whilst by night he worked for the independent promoters of the North East of England: Don Robinson, Cyril Knowles, Allan and Taylor. On occasions tagged with Jim Armstrong of Leeds.

Alan J. Batt (Also known as The Skull, Red Demon, The Disciple)
Brian Alan Thurley was born in Bishops Stortford in April, 1938. When he died seventy two years later he was mourned as the wrestler known as Alan J. Batt.  As a youngster Alan had an interest in boxing which he pursued for some time before turning to wrestling. Pursuit of a professional wrestling career was put on hold until he completed nine years serving in the army. Alan worked mainly for the independent promoters in the 1970s and 1980s, though did some work for Joint Promotions also. Alan J Batt was also the face behind numerous masks on the independent circuit, including those of the Red Demon and The Skull and The Disciple. He died on 16th October, 2010.

Joe Batten
From around the mid 1930s until the 1950s Angel Face Joe Batten  of Notting Hill seemed to be everywhere in the north and midlands. Our earliest records are from 1937, facing top class opponents such as Billy Riley, Jack Dale and Jack Atherton. Prior to wrestling Joe was a professional boxer from 1924 until 1931 with at least 118 matches on his record. Reports are of a rough, uncompromising villain of the ring. Following the war he appears to have gained some poundage and regularly opposed fully blown heavyweights. 

Fernand Bawin
One time World welterweight champion Fernand Bawin came to British shores in 1953. He returned for further tours in 1959 and 1961, a ko win on television over Les Kellett in November, 1959; and a loss against  Mick McManus in February, 1961. Bawin was a regular worker in Germany during the 1970s, wrestling in  Hannover, Bremen and other German towns. German promoters sometimes  billed him as as Mick Mac Bawin. Towards the end of the 1970s he took to officiating and  worked in Graz, Austria, as a referee for Otto Wanz.

Remy Bayle
Apart from a stray Royal Albert Hall appearance in 1956, losing to Steve Logan, the popular French heavyweight made his first inroad into Britain in 1960.  He returned to the Royal Albert Hall in March 1960 to take on Judo Al Hayes.   Another opponent during his 1960 tour was Johnny Yearsley on television. He was to and fro between Britain and the continent between March and July 1960. Remy was then absent from British rings until 1965 when he returned for six weeks between July and September. Opponents ranged from the mighty to the not so mighty with Remy's winning record being far from impressive.

Bill Beaney
Battling Bill Beaney, a tag partner of Danny Lynch, Romany Riley and Crusher Mason was a powerful 1980s heavyweight who survived the end of the television era and worked into the 1990s. A lorry driver from Ashford in Kent he was encouraged by Romany Riley and Mike Marino to turn professional wrestler. And he loved it. 

Following am amateur grounding Bill turned professional when he was just sixteen years old. It was a career that took him not only around the holiday camps and halls of the country but to Spain, the Middle East and Japan. Heavyweight Bill worked for the top independent promoters All Star, Jackie Pallo and Danny Lynch, as well as Dale Martin Promotions.   Opponents included top men such as Tony St Clair, Mal Saunders, Steve Regal and Rollerball Rocco.   Like many others in the business Bill combined wrestling commitments with pub management as landlord of The Crusader in Ashford.. Forty years after it all began he told us he still wants to get his boots back on.

The Bearded Wrestler
The Bearded Wrestler was something of an enigma for us for years. No mask to conceal his identity, but who was he? He certainly wasn't the Bearded Monarch Ken Davies, and there were other wrestlers sporting beards. The breakthough came when Ron Historyo found a poster that not only named him but gave a bigger clue, "The famous portrait artist."  Really? Well, yes, really.

The Bearded Wrestler of the 1930s was Patrick O'Connor an artist born in Paris on 7th May 1909, the son of a sculptor. This would place him in his mid twenties when he started wrestling the likes of Jack Pye, Douglas Clark and Francis St Clair Gregory. The family moved to the United States when war broke out in 1914, returning to Paris in 1926. He was indeed an internationally acclaimed artist with exhibitions around the world. Wrestling must have been very much a sideline, but biographical details of the artist do confirm he was indeed a wrestler in Britain, Ireland, Europe and the U.S.A. Having lived most of his adult life in the United States he settled in Britain following the death of his first wife. Patrick O'Connor died on 27th April, 1997.

Billy Joe Beck
The Irish-Canadian tag attached to Billy Joe Beck's name on the posters may well have been the promoter's attempt to add a bit of glamour (Billy Joe's father was born in Canada), but the young Belfast wrestler would have proved popular in any case. Trained by Jack "Flash" Shirlow, with Darkie Arnott, Tiger Joe Moore and Dave Finlay also proving influential,  Billy Joe knew his way around the wrestling ring. With a background in judo it was  Jack Shirlow that prepared Billy Joe  for his wrestling debut with matches around Ireland in the first year or two. In 1980 Billy Joe followed the well worn path across the Irish Sea and began working for the independent promoters. Within a short time he was working for Joint Promotions and made his television debut in 1984.  The following year Billy Joe had the distinction of wrestling Alan Kilby in the last televised tournament that was part of the World of Sport programme.  Although his career spanned three decades (he retired in 1991), and included top class opposition such as Kung Fu and Les Kellett, the last twenty years have seen Billy Joe gain further fame and respect in a very different role. When he retired from his full time job in the fire service in 1998 Billy joe began to devote even more of his time to charity work, most notably helping children with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Since retiring he has been appointed Director of RAMS (Race Against Multiple Sclerosis) and is now well know throughout Ireland for his work in supporting this good cause.

Dave Bedford
When wrestlers discuss their opponents one name frequently mentioned as a hard man to wrestle, let alone beat, is Dave Bedford. Few could deliver a swinging back breaker like Dave. Dave's tenacity is rooted in more than a dozen years as a national class amateur combined with the strength developed working down the pit and the grafting instinct of working his own farm, which he does to this day. Dave learned the professional trade under the watchful eye of former British heavyweight champion Ernest Baldwin.  Most of Dave's work was for the independent promoters. He was invited to work for Joint Promotions, and did so for a short time, but preferred the greater freedom he found working for the independents.  Dave had his own gymnasium on his farm where he and other wrestlers worked out together. Dave also promoted his own shows around Yorkshire during the 1970s and 1980s. 

16/01/2021 Addition of The Bearded Wrestler

10/3/2019: Addition of Tony Barron

14/02/2022: Reviewed