British wrestling history 

B: Bibby - Black Diamond

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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“Angel Face” Bob Bibby.

A welterweight from Clitheroe in Lancashire active in the 1970s. Appeared on television in April, 1976, losing two falls to nil against Colin Bennett.

Bob Bibby was trained at the famous Snakepit gym in Wigan.

Billed as Angel Face, he strutted to the ring in a magnificent full length gown, armed with a hairbrush, and combing his locks provocatively. Bob told Wrestling Hertitage, "I debuted in Hull, Madley Street Baths against Pete Meridith in the early 1970s. My bouts varied, could be 1 a month to 5 a week because I was working as well and they felt like all over the place... Wolverhampton, Leeds, Bridlington, Morecambe, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Rhyl and others."

A biceps injury unfortunately cut his career short, and Bob became an artistic blacksmith in his home town.

Frank Bibby

To be added soon

Jack Bice

Jack Bice, from Liskeard, Cornwall, made the transition from Cornish style wrestling to all-in style in 1934. Opponents ranged from welterweight Harold Angus to the heavier Bert Mansfield and Jack Atherton. We can find contests for Jack in 1934 and 1935, all of them in Cornwall.

Bobby Bierne

The welterweight from Roscommon in Ireland, moved to the United Kingdom in the mid 1950s, to set up home in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. We remember him as a worker for the independent promoters, often working for Jack Taylor. He did work for Joint Promotions at times and was also a referee for Devereux Promotions.

Mr Big (Also known as Roy Parkes, The Big Brute)
Big by name, big and powerful by nature. Mind you, big in the sense of a normal heavyweight.  at a mere 18 stones he was a midget compared to what we were to be subject to ten years later. It’s unfair to mention Mr Big in the same breath as some of those giants, because Mr Big was a muscular man who could actually wrestle.  Six foot 3 inches tall, a 48 inch chest, the eighteen stones was distributed over a well proportioned body.

The personality behind the persona was Frederick Roy Parkes. He  was born in Scarborough on 22nd May, 1933. Roy was called up for national service when he was eighteen years old  and it was here that he was able to pursue his sporting interest, not wrestling but boxing.  Boxing and tug of war were his army interests, with wrestling not considered.  Like many of our favourite stars of the ring destiny took its course and he moved  from one form of combat to another.

In 1953, living in London Roy married and continued to pursue his boxing interest. Meeting up with wrestlers at the gym he took to the mat and found it came rather naturally. The multi tattooed Roy  learned amateur wrestling at the United Amateur Wrestling Club alongside Johnny Williams, Johnny Kincaid and Len Hurst. Senior instructor at United  was the respected Jack Ingle. He took an interest in teaching Roy, as did Len Allen.  Len Allen wasn’t a bad trainer either. That’s an understatement as he was to become  a member of the 1964 Olympics wrestling team in Tokyo. These two made sure that Roy knew how to actually wrestle before going on to learn the rudiments of the professional ring.

Roy turned professional in 1966, and it seems to have been the name Mr Big on the posters from the start..  It was  a baptism of fire when faced with Alan Garfield in his first professional contest. Promoters had confidence in him and an early push by Dale Martin Promotions saw him in with some big names and victories over Yuri Borienko, Johnny Yearsley and the aforementioned Garfield.  We didn’t find a win, but the masked mammoth Zebra Kid was a frequent opponents. It seems that in the second half of the 1960s Mr Big was destined for, can we say, big things?

Having wrestled almost exclusively for Dale Martin Promotions  Mr Big was brought to national attention by The Wrestler magazine in May 1968.  We were all set for greater things, but what happened then?  The promise forecast by the Wrestler magazine in 1968 never really materialised and Mr Big remained in a supporting role for a career that was somewhat stop-start. He disappeared from our radar at the end of the 1960s with only sporadic appearances in the years that followed until 1977 when Mr Big once again became a more regular feature on the wrestling bills.

A masked man appeared on the scene in 1980. Beneath the hood of The Big Brute, managed by Reg Trood, was Roy Parkes.   After beating John Elijah and throwing down a challenge at the Royal Albert Hall ring in September, 1977,  nothing materialised and that was more or less  the end of The Big Brute.  The Mr Big persona continued and was last seen in September, 1980.  

Roy Parkes sadly died on 11th November, 2007.

Russ Bishop

It wasn’t just the magnificent physique, or the hairy chest, but the superb wrestling ability that made the middleweight from Auckland, Russ Bishop, such a sensation when he came to the UK from New Zealand in 1949.

At the time New Zealand mat men, especially the lighter men, were finding it difficult to break into the business at home. The solution for many was to travel abroad, often to Australia, but sometimes much further afield.

He came along with fellow New Zealanders Ray Clarke and Bob Russell, and the three of them were accepted in Britain and became popular UK performers during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Russ was the first professional opponent of Joe D'Orazio when young Joe made his wrestling debut.

After leaving Britain to return home Russ and his fellow New Zealanders stopped off to wrestle in the United States and Mexico, doing particularly well in the latter where smaller wrestlers were appreciated.

Russ Bishop died in 2015

Harry Bison (Also known as The Zulu)

Light heavyweight Harry Bison was a tall, muscular bearded wrestler based in the Isle of Man during the 1970s. He was usually billed as The Zulu, but should not be confused with Ezzra Francis, the Manchester Zulu.

Hey, this is pro wrestling.

Harry was trained by Manx lightweight Bill Kennedy at the George Barnabus wrestling club, the lifeline for aspiring professional wrestlers on the Isle of Man in the 1970s. A dozen or so Islanders would wrestle visiting men from the mainland during the weekly summer season shows.

We met up with Harry in 1971.

We even wrote an article about him in The Wrestler magazine and would like to know what became of him.

Black Diamond
No we are not talking about the famous tag team of the 1960s and 1970s. Our Black Diamond goes back more than a decade earlier. A masked man weighing around 15stones briefly seen in the rings around 1950, with opponents that included Padvo Peltonin, Bill Coverdale, Charlie Scott and Jack Atherton. Prior to matches he would demonstrate his strength by breaking a horse shoe in two and tearing a telephone directory in half.

Page revised 13/04/2019: Addition of Jack Bice

04/10/2020: Revision of Mr Big