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B: Banu - Barratt

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Prince Banu

By  the end of the 1940s 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 the winter of 1949, along with his friends Ray Clarke and Russ Bishop. 

Despite demonstrating considerable skill against 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.  Russell returned to New Zealand via North America, stopping off to wrestle in Mexico and California.

Bernard Hughes recalls watching Prince Banu at Newcastle between September and November 1950. "He won 2-1 against Alan Colbeck on 22/9/50, beat Cyril Knowles (Knowles Peters), by putting him to sleep (more later), and then he won 2-1 against Tommy Mann. Banu used a rather boring method of winning, getting onto  his opponent's shoulders , forcing them  to the floor and then spending a round presumably boring his knuckles into the other man's temples. At the end of the Cyril Knowles match, Les Kellett should have had an Oscar, calling for any doctor in the house, an ambulance before finding that Banu could bring his opponent round! He then gave Banu a severe telling off for not volunteering this information sooner."


Alan Bardouille (Banana Kid, Kid Chocolate)

Alan Bardouille came to Britain in 1956, aged 15, and  emerged onto the northern wrestling scene in the latter half of the 1960s.  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 almost half a dozen years before Russell! 

Alan made his professional debut in April, 1966, a Morrell-Beresford show at the St James Hall, Newcastle, which he lost by two straight falls. 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. In the pre politically correct 1970s Alan re-invented himself as Kid Chocolate and was to remain a favourite throughout the decade.

Following his retirement from wrestling the story does not end. Far from it. Alan's wife of almost twenty years passed away with cancer, only a a few months after his stepson was taken away with the same disease.  In August 2004 Alan 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. His 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.


Eddie Flash Barker (Ed Blondie Gordon)

A popular blond Canadian heavyweight with the looks that could only make him one of the fans favourites.

Eddie's parents, Florrie and Ernest 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 was born in 1916 and  died from a heart attack on 1st January,  2007, aged 91.

Bobby Barnes

The peacock strutted his stuff. 

All he needed to do was pose in the ring, sneer at the crowd and arrogance simply seeped from Bobby Barnes’ pores. There he stood in all his glory, absorbing the boos and jeers of the fans booed and jeered.

This was just the start of the ritual as he carefully removed his gold coloured gown , only to toss it away, and receive more jeers from the fans.

Bobby Barnes did his job well. He was derided by fans throughout the land. Barnes was a 5’7” middleweight from Lewisham who learned the business at the Symbric Wrestling Club, Lewisham, which he had joined when he was eleven years old.

Entry into the professional ranks came in 1958, thanks to Dale Martin Promotions, and it was something of a baptism of fire with opponents during the first few weeks including Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo and Len Wilding.

Owner of a ladies hairdressing salon Bobby was famous for his blond locks, of which he took great care.

Each year seemed to see Bobby’s hair grow longer and blonder, his cloaks and boots more colourful.

His character became even more larger than life when he teamed with Adrian Street as the Hells Angels tag team. Colour television was made for this pair!

Rather sadly and abruptly Street departed Joint Promotions about 1974 and Bobby never really regained his same confidence or status, contenting himself with sprayed on hair colouring and even growing a moustache.

He continued working until the early years of the twenty-first century, and also trained newcomers to the business at the Dropkixx Wrestling Club.

Let’s remember him as the real blond bombshell of 1971! 

Lloyd Barnett

The route from pro boxing to pro wrestling was a well trodden one going back to the early 1930s, and possibly before. Jamaican born Lloyd Barnett made that journey following a boxing career of forty matches spanning six years, including losses to big names  like Don Cockell and Ingemar Johansson.

Born on 17 September, 1924, in Savanna La Mar, Lloyd left Jamaica for America, sending money home for his widowed mother to open a grocery shop in Kingston. He arrived in England around 1947, a year before The Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury on 22 June 1948 with 492 passengers from Jamaica starting a new life in Britain.  By September, 1947, with practically no amateur experience, he was boxing professionally.

In 1953 Lloyd retired from boxing, going on to  wrestle 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. He also opened a grocery shop, specialising in Caribbean food, a rarity in those days, which he later extended into a chain.

Prince Barnu

Not to be confused with the New Zealander Prince Banu. 

In the 1960s when we read heard about this exotic sounding star we were hooked.

But this alleged Brazillian of the 1960s independent halls was Coventry's  Fred "Darkie" Barnes, a scrap dealer   who trained wrestlers at St Peter's School Gym in Hillfield, Coventry in the 1960s. One of Coventry's colourful characters and a good friend of Adolph Dabrowski.  Prince Barnu was a regular worker for Jack Taylor, and included Randy Turpin amongst his opponents. 

Fred wrote a regular wrestling column for the Coventry telegraph.

A popular figure amongst all those who knew him and were quick to testify he was a very nice man, friends and family were shocked when Fred collapsed and died at his scrap yard in Baginton July 1989. 

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Robby Baron  (Young Robby)

When he joined the professional ranks this teenager was billed as Young Robby, for obvious reasons. His speed, skill and looks made him an immediate favourite throughout the south.

To be honest, he never ventured far north, but he did transfer his talent successfully from Paul Lincoln, the independent promoter, to Dale Martin Promotions. Changing his name to Robby Baron (his real name was Tapsell)

Robby soon became a 1960s and 1970s favourite throughout the south, and the rest of the country via the miracle of television. 

He was closely associated with Mick McManus throughout his career, driving the main eventer around in his heyday, with recompense of an appearance on the day’s number one tv show, the Generation Game, as usual with McManus. 

Seemed set to develop into a heavyweight contender, but Young Robby rather drifted away from the British scene unheralded about 1975.   We do have records of him wrestling in Vienna in July 1977 where he chalked up an outstanding victory over Ricky Starr.  Robby Baron passed away in September, 2010.

Henry Yori remembers his old friend Robby Baron.

I first met Robbie as I knew him in 1976/77 when I was working at Peckham bus garage and he had taken over The Red Bull pub next to the garage. I approached him for a job as a weekend resident DJ. We hit it off from the start and he was a fair employer with a lovely sense of humour. We had a great launch night with many wrestlers from the great TV bouts all turning up to support him. I remember Mick McManus, Catweazle, Wayne Bridges and Johnny Kwango drinking at the bar with Robbie. all were very approachable and friendly.

I met his mum Joy and they lived above the pub for about 2 years with their large white poodle Vienna. They then moved to The Queens Head pub in Green St Green near Orpington Kent. I stayed in touch with them and eventually went to live with them with my girlfriend. I did the bar work and she did the food. He was a wonderful host and we had many regulars and I still remember his great laugh. I eventually left for pastures new but still kept in touch with him.

He really was a lovely man and the community got to know, love and respect him. He would talk about Wrestling if you asked him but he never bragged or became big headed. I got the impression that the promoters made the money and no wrestler became as rich as today's TV Sports stars. I still have the 7 inch vinyl record he gave me on Pye Records of When We All Go in the ring to the tune of When All The Saints. He is a great loss as a wrestler, friend and person.

Blondie Barratt (Bob Nickerson, Grim Reaper, Dunk,  Happy Humphrey, Rock 'n' Roll Express)

In the mid 1970s, a time when British wrestling was beginning to show signs of age, a new kid appeared on the block,  Bob "Blondie" Barratt. Unlike most newcomers of the time this one had a bucketful of talent and two bucketfuls of charisma.

We only wish Bob had been born twenty years earlier so that we could have enjoyed watching him during wrestling's greatest years. He would have been a star in any age.
Bob became an increasingly popular figure in 1970s British wrestling with a memorable feud with Johnny Kidd and clashes with Rollerball Rocco, Dave Finlay and Giant Haystacks. The "Rock and Roll Express" moniker and more colourful outfits only embellished his place in 1980s wrestling. Most memorable of all, though, is Bob's long running tag partnership with Kendo Nagasaki. 
As we enter the second decade of the twenty first century he trains new entrants to the business and in 2003 started a successful British promotions, Rebel Pro Wrestling.
Ivor Pat Barratt

The red haired Irishman was a popular 1960s figure in British rings and we remember him entering the ring carrying his sheleighly, a sure warning to any wayward villain.

Not long after his professional debut in 1958 Ivor had itchy feet and was soon working regularly on the continent, especially in Germany. With his wanderlust unsatisfied in the winter of 1962 Pat  travelled across the Atlantic and gained  success and fame in North America, working for both the NWA and WWWF. 

Between 1966 and 1968 he returned to Britain frequently enough for fans to remember him, but was simultaneously developing an American career forming successful tag partnerships (and later feuds) with both Tim Geoghegan and Don Leo Jonathan.

Further success came in winning the WWWF tag team culminating championship alongside Dominic Denucci.  On 15th May 1975 Pat wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight championship, losing by a knock out. Having wrestled throughout the United States, Australia, new Zealand and the Pacific islands Pat returned to Ireland where he had his last contest in 1985.