B: Banu - Barnett
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Prince Banu (Also known as Bob Russell)
By 1950 the recently introduced Lord Mountevans rules had re-established the integrity of professional wrestling in Britain and the sport was beginning to flourish once again. Numerous overseas wrestlers made their way to Britain, and amongst them was a young Maori named Bob Russell. Russell travelled from his home of Te Puke, in the Bay of Plenty area of New Zealand, to Britain in 1950. Despite wrestling top British wrestlers like Jack Beaumont and Eddie Capelli Russell lacked the charisma to make him a fans' favourite until he adopted the name Prince Banu. This added touch of colour did the trick and the popularity of Russell in Britain was transformed. Not enough, though for Heritage member, Bernard Hughes, who saw Banu three times at Newcastle. "The most disappointing contest that I saw was the first time that Prince Banu came to Newcastle. After a nothing happening first round where I felt that he was being carried, he got behind his opponent and jumped onto his shoulders. By twisting his head backwards and forward and then side to side he forced him to the canvas. We then had 2 further rounds where he appeared to be boring his knuckles into his hapless opponents temples. Eventually he rose from his opponent and watched whilst Les Kellett ,the ref, counted to 10. Boring to unconsciousness. The audience were asleep before the opponent."
Said to be an elusive opponent with an unorthodox style there’s little we can add at present about the Indian Sooty Barak who wrestled in northern England between February and August, 1938. Opponents included Jack Pye, Iron Duke Bill Garnon and Padvo Peltonin.
We have matches for heavyweight Rudi Barbu between 1933 and 1936, said to be the heavyweight champion of Romania. Wins over Dave Armstrong and George Clarke suggest he was a wrestler of considerable ability.We have matches for heavyweight Rudi Barbu between 1933 and 1936, said to be the heavyweight champion of Romania. Wins over Dave Armstrong and George Clarke suggest he was a wrestler of considerable ability.
Alan Bardouille (Also known as Banana Kid, Kid Chocolate)
The twenty-something paid his wrestling dues under the name Alan Bardouille until he found more widespread fame as Kid Chocolate. Whatever his guise (the appalling Banana Kid was another) we considered him a pretty class act from the first time we saw him, which was in the late 1960s.
He had a thorough wrestling knowledge, which was admittedly true of most wrestlers in the 1960s, learned at the Hill Top Wrestling Club in Bradford.
Alfred Bardouille had arrived in Britain in the mid 1950s when he was fifteen years old; the family settling in Bradford on arrival from Dominica in the Carribean Sea. We were to wait another ten years before he emerged onto the British wrestling scene, courtesy of Norman Morrell.
Experience came quickly thanks to Wryton promotions and work on the holiday camp circiuit. Alan was a regular worker for Morrell/Beresford, Wryton and Relwyskow and Green, making regular journeys north of the border as a popular member of the Eldorado All Stars Wrestling Team alongside Andy Robin, Dave Ramsden, Mick McMichael, Jim McKenzie and Ian Gilmour.
When he made his Royal Albert Hall debut against Zoltan Boscik in 1970 he was lavishly praised by reporter Russell Plummer, giving the impression he had not just discovered a new star but an entire galaxy. In the north of England and Scotland fans had known the secret of Alan Bardouille for quite a few years years before Russell!
Alan made his professional debut on 16th April, 1966, a Morrell-Beresford show at the St James Hall, Newcastle, losing by two straight falls to Barry Canon.
In the pre politically correct 1970s Alan re-invented himself as Kid Chocolate and was to remain a favourite hroughout the decade.
Most of his television exposure came under the Kid Chocolate guise, though thankfully there was never any of the ridiculous pretence (as seen with others) that he was anyone other than Alan Bardouille.
Alan was one of the most familiar faces on television in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing more than twenty-five times. Mind you the promoters did him no favours. Opponents included Mick McManus, Dynamite Kid, Jim Breaks, Vic Faulkner, Rollerball Rocco and John Naylor. No easy rides there.
Following his retirement from wrestling the story does not end. Alan and his wife, Gloria, took up pub management Having lost two close family members to cancer Alan used his interest in keeping fit for the benefit of others. Alan's wife died of cancer in 2009, just a short time after the disease had killed their son and five years after the death of her brother.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008 he ran the Great North Run in aid of Bradford Macmillan Cancer Relief. It didn't end there. In the years that have followed Alan has continued to raise funds for Macmillan and other charities.
In 2009 Alan's fund raising efforts culminated in the receipt of the B-Active award from Bradford Council for his attitude to keeping fit, teaching fitness classes, and his work for charities.
Ed Flash Barker (Also known as Ed Blondie Gordon)
A popular blond Anglo-Canadian heavyweight with the looks that could only make him one of the fans favourites. Edward Barker was born on 10th September, 1915 to parents, Florrie and Ernest. The family moved to Canada and it was here that he became interested in wrestling. Eddie returned to Britain as a teenager and wrestled in this country from just before the second world war up to the late 1950s. Even during the austere years of the 1940s he would enter the ring wearing a silver cape which was enough to make him stand out in a crowd. You'd be hard pushed to find a Flash Barker in a Wigan bus queue. At times in his career Flash was known as Blondie Gordon and Flash Gordon, but his real name was Edward. Prior to the war Barker combined his wrestling career with that of a speedway rider for West Ham and later Crystal Palace. Wrestling came first, but Eddie is still fondly remembered amongst speedway fans of the 1930s. In 1938 Ed was selected as member of a Canadian speedway team in a moment of creative genius of which any wrestling promoter would have been proud. West Ham speedway promoter, Johnnie Hoskins came up with the idea of a Canadian team. Great, other than that the Canadian team didn't take part in any international matches, but they did tour Britain meeting local teams throughout the country. A colourful character who helped establish professional wrestling as one of Britain's major sporting entertainments. Eddie Barker died from a heart attack on 1st January, 2007, aged 91.
We uncovered around a dozen matches around the country for Londoner Sailor Barnes between 1934 and 1939. He may well have passed under the radar and gone without mention until we discovered family connections. Born in Camberwell, his father was a coachbuilder, he had four brothers and two sisters. Amongst the brothers were wrestler Wally Dix and a man who was to go on to become one of the top referees in the country, Lou Marco.
Former boxer Lloyd Barnett wrestled the big names around Britain and Europe during the 1950s. Opponents included Dave Armstrong, Don Mendoza, Francis St Clair Gregory, Karel Istaz and the rest. Jamaican born Lloyd's boxing career had spanned six years, including losses to big names like Don Cockell and Ingemar Johansson. He retired from boxing in June, 1953.
Page revised: 10/3/19: Addition of Sooty Barak and Rudi Barbu