B: Borienko - Bowen
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Yuri Borienko (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.
Zoltan Boscik (Zoltan Zimmerman)
Read our extended tribute: A Taste of Goulash
This French heavyweight travelled extensively throughout Europe. He visited Britain in 1952, travelling throughout the country and meeting wrestlers such as Vic Hessle and Eddie Flash Barker.
A name that surfaced at least twice in the post war years. There was a Boston Blackie on the independent circuit in the 1960s, and we believe Ezra Francis may have used the name. Another Boston Blackie resurfaced in the 1980s, and Pantaleon Manlapig tells us Boston Blackie wrestled in Germany during 1991-2 in Hamburg for Sven Hansen and Rene Lassartesse.
The rugged Spanish based South American heavyweight first visited Britain in 1957, falling to Judo Al Hayes at the Royal Albert Hall. He was back in Britain ten years later, once again appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, and this time going down to Judo Al's tag partner Rebel Ray Hunter. The wild Peruvian came to national prominence in televised contests against three of the most popular wrestlers in Britain, Judo Al Hayes, Mike Marino and Les Kellett. Around the halls Botano faced top class opposition Steve Veidor, Joe Cornelius and Tibor Szakacs. In tag contests Juan partnered fellow Peruvian Gomez Maximilliano.
The rugged Frenchman came over to work in the UK for the latter half of 1965. Despite coming with the usual first class credentials of having won international tournaments and met international acclaim the reality was quite different. A KO loss to Jackie Pallo at the Royal Albert Hall is fair enough, but add to that losses to Spencer Churchill, Ivan Penzecoff, Leon Arras, Colin Joynson and other mid carders and you will appreciate that the Frenchman did not quite meet his initial promise.
One half of the colourful Greek tag pairing of the Helenes who visited Britain for ten weeks in the 1967. Wearing Greek national costume they added colour and skill to the British scene during their visit. Tagged with fellow Greek Souris Tsickrikas for some thrilling matches with the Royals and The Saints as well as against villains like the Black Diamonds and Dennisons. A knock out win over Terry Jowett in his sole television appearance and lost to Johnny Czeslaw at the Royal Albert Hall.
Le Bourreau de Béthune
This masked Executioner from the northern French town of Béthune visited the UK in 1965 and wrestled on Devereaux Promotions bills. See the entry for him Le Bourreau de Béthune was a rugged formidable opponent and Wrestling Heritage writers have no hesitation in classing him amongst the few serious career masked men we include on this site. Behind the distinctive purple mask was heavyweight Jacques Ducrez. Years later we were intrigued to unearth a further French masked wrestler called Jacquerez whom we concluded to be one-in-the-same as it seems he merely eliminated the four middle letters of his two names and then elided the two together. For more on Jacquerez, go to J.
One time amateur Greco Roman champion and French middleweight from Avignon made a three day visit to the United Kingdom in the spring of 1971. He held the heavier Johnny Czeslaw to a draw, was knocked out by Jackie Pallo and lost by a single fall to Clayton Thomson at the Royal Albert Hall.
Page revised 13/4/19: Addition of the Borstal Boys.