B: Bartush - Bates
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Twenty-one year old Billy Bartush turned professional in 1929 in the United States, already having gained success as a college American football player at the University of Illinois. . A 16 stone powerhouse known as the Chicago Express, in reference to the city in which he lived, Bartush was of Lithuanian descent. In November, 1932, Bartush accompanied his friend Carl Pojello across the Atlantic, sailing on the Aquatania. He was known for his phenomenal strength, an in one of his first British matches, a week after arriving in the country, he scored an impressive win over the equally strong and 17 stone Half Nelson Keys in Nottingham, getting two submissions from the Brit in just three rounds. Billy remained a regular worker in Britain throughout the 1930s, facing top men such as Bert Assirati, Carl Pojello and Jack Pye.
Read our extended tribute: On The Trail of Billy Bartush
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.
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 Thurley was born in April, 1938. When he passed away 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. Chelmsford's Batt worked mainly for the independent promoters in the 1970s and 1980s, though did do some work for Joint Promotions also. Alan Batt was also the face behind numerous masks on the independent circuit, including those of the Red Demon and The Skull and The Disciple.
From around the mid 1930s until the 1950s Angel Face Joe Batten 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. Following the war he appears to have gained some poundage and regularly opposes fully blown heavyweights. A popular wrestler about whom we would very much like to learn more.
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.
Apart from a stray Royal Albert Hall appearance in 1956, losing to Steve Logan, the popular French heavyweight made hist 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.
A lorry driver from Ashford was encouraged by Romany Riley and Mike Marino to turn professional. And he loved it. Following am amateur grounding Kent's Bill Beaney 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. Like many others in the business Bill went on to combine wrestling commitments with pub management. Forty years after it all began he told us he still wants to get his boots back on.
Page revised 10/3/19: Addition of Billy Bates