British wrestling history 

B: Bartush - Bates

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Billy Bartush

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

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.

The Bat
The Bat, a northern England masked man from 1950, with a run of victories that included Karel Istaz, Ernest Baldwin and Jack Beaumont. All good things come to an end and they did for the Bat night he met Count Bartelli in a loser to unmask contest. On 25th November, 1950 Bartelli unmasked The Bat to reveal the features of Dundee's Jim Anderson. Jim had wrestled through the 1930s and took to wearing the mask in 1950 having recently returned from Singapore, where he had wrestled as Kid Masque.

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.

Bomber Bates (Also known as The Ghoul)
On returning home following service in the Second World War Manchester heavyweight John Bates trained at the YMCA and entered the world of professional wrestling.  By the end of 1946 Big Bomber Bates was a popular figure throughout the northern England and the midlands, often opposing Jack Pye, Jim Hussey, Alf Rawlings,  Jim Foy, and Izzy van Dutz amongst others. After a couple of years he could increasingly be seen in a more sinisterly guise as one of the country's top masked men, but you'll have to read The Top Twenty Masked Men to find out who he was.  John Bates passed away on 17 August 1961.

Page revised 10/3/19: Addition of The Bat and Billy Bates