B: Benny - Berg
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Man Mountain Bill Benny
In the 1940s when fan rage too frequently resulted in crowd violence one of the men who often caused the mayhem was a Mancunian by the name of Man Mountain Bill Benny. The beard and the girth made Benny a fearsome sight. He would stand centre ring, taunt the audience, roar at his opponent and then dart across the ring to seize his luckless opponent. If a smaller object, such as a referee, was to get in the way then that was just unfortunate. The fans were incensed but always went home feeling that it had been a good night out. If this gives the impression that Benny had little to offer in terms of wrestling skill then that is far from the truth. The man was a villain of the first order, but he was respected by his compatriots and we remember Accrington’s Jack Taylor reminiscing longingly about the contribution that Benny made to wrestling. Belle Vue was Benny’s local venue and he encountered fellow villains like Jack Pye and Black Butcher Johnson on his local turf. We understand that in the north west during the 1950s 1960s a common nickname for oversized men was "Man Mountain Benny." Following a wrestling career that began as a teenager in the late 1930s, and coming to an end in 1960 (he did a few matches in the early sixties), Benny went into club management and wrestling promoting. In 1960 he bought the Hulme Hippodrome, a theatre built as a music hall in 1901. Bill owned the theatre for two years until he sold it and it was turned into a bingo hall. Amongst clubs owned by Bill were the Levenshulme Sporting Club, The Cabaret Club on Oxford Road, and the Devonshire Club. It was he that encouraged a young judo expert named Al Marquette to enter the world of professional wrestling. Bill was highly respected as an impresario and his death at the early age of forty-four was reported in the American entertainment magazine, Billboard. On occasions the bearded giant pulled on a mask and entered the ring as the Vampire.
Former wrestler Al Tarzo told us: “I was on a bill early 60's and on the same bill was The Ghoul (Bomber Bates) who was a very good story teller in the dressing room, the conversation got onto the subject of travelling to and from shows in the early days. He then told a story about Bill Benny who at the time of the old steam trains used to have in his travelling bag some railway guard kit ie;- Cap, Signalling lamp and Jacket which he would use to get free travel on the trains”
Belgian middleweight representative (Graeco Roman and Freestyle) in the 1948 London Olympic Games was Jean Baptiste Benoy. Not only that, but at 21 years 351 days he was the youngest member of the Belgian team. Five years later he was back. Now a professional and billed as Belgian light heavyweight champion Baptiste faced the likes of Vic Hessle, Emile Poilve, and Jim Foy. The Belgian returned the following three years and again in 1960. Maybe he liked the food. Or the weather!
Blond haired Austrian Adi Berber made a three month visit to Britain in the Autumn of 1953. A stylish, skilled wrestler by all accounts, likened to a mathematical tactician. Highlight of his visit was an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, a sixty minute draw with Britain’s Ernie Baldwin. Other opponents included Charlie Green, Al Hayes and Dave Armstrong. Back home in Vienna Adi was a wrestler, an actor in 38 films, and owner of a cafe.
Although he is now remembered mostly as one of Britain's top wrestling promoters, and founder member of Joint Promotions, Huddersfield's Ted Beresford was a top class professional wrestler of the 1940s before turning his hand to promoting in the post war years. Ted Beresford, his birth name was Walter Leonard Beresford, turned to wrestling following a stint in the army and working on a farm. Always a sports fanatic he was encouraged to take up wrestling by the Scottish wrestler George Clarke. During the war Ted, based in Aldershot whilst serving, organised wrestling tournaments for the army. As one of the top names in the light and mid heavyweight class Ted wrestled the big names of the day such as Norman Walsh, Vic Hessle and Mike Marino. He retired from wrestling in 1952 with his influence on the wrestling scene continuing to grow for another quarter of a century. He put the skills learned organising tournaments during the war to good used by turning to promoting, usually in partnership with Bradford's Norman Morrell. Ted's niece, Jennie Sherwood, is seeking information about her family, which includes both Ted and middleweight Steve Clements, and anyone who can help should contact Jennie firstname.lastname@example.org
Sammy Berg was billed as Mr Canada, and had the body to prove it.
Standing 6' 4" tall and weighing a muscular nineteen stones the Canadian made a short visit to Britain in 1960, facing the British heavyweight hopeful Billy Robinson on television.
At the time he was in his early 30s (born in 1929) and had around ten years wrestling experience. Unlike many North American visitors Sammy did have a considerable amount of technical skill to back up his power.
His visit to Britain was towards the end of a wrestling career as he moved into acting, and was set to appear in many films during the years that followed. In the 1980she moved to Hawaii and worked on tv series Magnum, P.I. until it ended in 1988 fast, even in their late fifties and early sixties!"
Page reviewed 27/2/19