B: Booth - Borstal Boys
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Another flag bearer of the white rose county. Doncaster's Chic Booth had a background as a weightlifter and acrobat before turning to professional wrestling. He even toured the country's variety halls in the 1930s with his hand balancing act. Labelled "The Doncaster Strongman" he made his professional debut in 1941 and for the following twelve years was a regular fixture on the wrestling bills of the north and midlands. In 1953 fans were saddened by his retirement, though relieved to See the entry for him appearing on a part time basis a couple of years later until the end of the decade. Following his return to the ring Chic also began officiating as the third man. He trained ar his own gym, in Balby, where his proteges included Rex Harrison, Mick McMichael and Albert Wall.
Benito Boratti, Luigi Boratti, Jean Boratti, Bert Boratti ... change the names as often as you like but the mystery remains. An alleged Italian with a description that matched that of Bert Assirati. He was not Assirati though, according to Assirati expert Mike Hallinan, and confirmed by the investigations of Ron Historyo. Said to have been trained in Wigan at Charnock's gym, he seems to have been based in Lancashire and appeared on the scene in 1937 with mixed fortunes. In January, 1938, he loses to two and a half stones lighter Madrali (who had already wrestled once that night). A month later is knocked out by little known Will Rogers but a few weeks later is fighting Jack Sherry with the world title at stake (4th April, 1938 in Southampton). Last seen in December, 1939, with a no-show at Liverpool the following month.
Fast and furious the Borg twins could make you dizzy. Twins Ignatious and Tony Borg were born in August, 1947 in Sliema Malta. The boys came to Britain in 1957 and turned professional in 1965. The following year, in March, Iggy lost to Jon Cortez in his televised debut. He had more success the following month when he returned to the small screen and defeated Welsh lightweight champion Johnny Williams. It wasn't until 1967 that the twins wrestled on tv in tag action for the first time. Their speed and skill made them television favourites throughout the land, though their live appearances were largely limited to the South. Surprisingly most of their early bouts were in singles competition and regular tag success did not come about until they had worked professionally for over a year.
Tony was the older of the Borg twins, four minutes the senior of brother Ignatious. Born in August, 1947 in Sliema Malta the boys came to Britain in 1957 and turned professional in 1965. Tony made his debut a few weeks before Ignatious and kept up the pressure on little brother by making the first Royal Albert Hall debut. His first televised bout came in March, 1966, losing by a knockout to the Pakistani Mir Zafear Ealam. Although the twins did frequently wrestle in single matches, especially in the first two years of their professional career their greatest success was as a tag team, meeting the likes of the Cortez Brothers, Royals and the villainous McManus and Logan pairing. On television they defeated The Artful Dodgers, the Magyars, the Dennisons and held the number one tag team, the Royal brothers, to a draw.
Yuri Borienko (Also known as Red Staranoff)
Rugged Russian heavyweight of the 1960s, though his entry to the ring was made all the more colourful with his traditional Russian dress. Not exactly a villain of the first order Yuri had a very rugged style which brought him close to breaking the rules and made him less of a fans favourite. He came to Britain shortly following World War 2 and began wrestling in 1951 under the name Red Staranoff. A disappearance in 1953 could most likely be accounted for by a move to the United States, from which he returned to Britain in 1960.
Yuri started wrestling for the independents in 1961 and was signed up by Joint Promotions the following year. He was one of just two wrestlers (Mike Marino was the other) matched against the great American heavyweight Luther Lindsay. As well as upsetting the wrestling fans of Britain Yuri had a nice sideline in the television and film industry, appearing in dozens of films and television dramas that included Z Cars, Doctor In Trouble, Superman and the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It is said that during a test fight for the James Bond film George Lazenby broke Yuri's nose and this helped Lazenby gain the part of Bond.
The Borstal Boys
The Borstal Boys had a short lived career as masked men, finally defeated not by their opponents but by the timidity of promoters who became anxious of the heat the pairing created.
It was an innovative and unique gimick, certainly one worth celebrating and remembering.
These two villains would arrive at the wrestling hall in a black car, nicely timed to ensure most punters had taken their seats and capture the attention of any late arrivals.
From the car would emerge three men, two of them dressed all in black with hooded black masks outlined in red around their eyes.
Fans inside the hall would be getting restless, waiting for the evening's proceedings to start. Suddenly, a commotion by the door would draw their attention. All eyes turned. Into the hall entered the two masked men. As they moved through the hall they stayed close to the third man, a respectable gent in suit and tie. The fans would then notice the reason for their proximity. The two masked men were handcuffed to the third. He was a security guard sent to ensure his charges were returned safely to the detention centre.
Despite the handcuffs the guard failed miserably to prevent mayhem. Prior to their match as the masked men sauntered towards the ring no one was safe. Handbags were liable to be snatched from female fans with the contents upended onto the floor, argumentative male fans were liable to a not so gentle push. All this before the handcuffs were removed and the match started. On these occasions the word mayhem was appropriate.
Enormous heat was created, the masked men on occasions forced to leave the hall via a back window to evade the angry fans. A success yes, a long term success no. It took only a few weeks for promoters to decided The Borstal Boys were just too hot to handle.
Page revised 13/04/19: Addition of Benito Boratti