British wrestling history 

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B: Brown - Bullough

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Al  Brown (John Brown, Frank Sparks)

Some people said that the popular Manchester welterweight Al Brown often had a puzzled look on his face. We don't know why because when he was inside the wrestling ring he certainly knew what he was doing. Universal agreement in the early sixties was that eleven stone Brown was one of the most under-rated of wrestlers, with The Wrestler magazine even declaring him the equal of Jack Dempsey.

His geographical restrictions to the rings of the midlands, north and Scotland may well have limited his national acclaim, but Southern fans did get to share his considerable talent in around a dozen televised contests. Most notable of all was his televised odd fall victory over John Foley, hastily followed in the memory stakes when he was KO'd by Cliff Belshaw whilst leading by a fall. Other television opponents included the skilful Spaniard Vincente Castella, Abe Ginsberg and Ken Cadman.

Away from television he is remembered   for narrowly losing to Jim Breaks in a title clash and a series of tough contests against the Wigan champion Jack Dempsey. Al turned to wrestling following a successful amateur boxing career. He joined the army aged eighteen, largely to have the chance to pursue his love of boxing, but whilst serving met up with the wrestler Johnny Eagles. When he left the army Al joined Manchester YMCA where he learned to wrestle in the evenings whilst working as a railway engineer. He turned professional two  years later, losing to Martin Conroy at Hanley. Over the next ten years he met all the top welterweights and showed himself to be the equal of anyone.  Al and the family moved to South Africa in 1970 where he continued to wrestle for another year before taking up refereeing and finally retiring from the ring in 1974.

Harlem Jimmy Brown

America's Jimmy Brown was born in New York in 1934 and came to Europe when he was in the American Armed Forces, based in Frankfurt. He was a master of many sports with a physique to match.

Jimmy later moved to Paris and consequently worked on the continent before making his first visit to Britain in 1958 for Joint Promotions. His muscular physique made him a popular figure amongst fans. High calibre opponents  included Ernest Baldwin, Ernie Riley, Alan Garfield, Eric Taylor, and Gordon Nelson.

He was back in Britain  in 1962 on Paul Lincoln shows against the  likes of Don Mendoza, Doctor Death and Don  Stedman  Jimmy Brown’s highlight was probably a 1962 victory over Johnny Yearsley at the Royal Albert Hall.  Heritage member Tom H remembers him, "He was billed as, the coloured junior heavyweight champion of the world, I've never seen anyone do the flying head scissors as good as this man."

Tragedy struck in 1965 when Jimmy Brown was killed in a car crash in France.

Judo John Brown

Dudley's Judo John Brown was trained by Alan "Tarantula" Turner.

He worked for the independent promoters in the 1970s and 1980s,  and continued involvement in the sport following his retirement as a referee and trainer of young hopefuls.

Seen in action against King Kendo on a Dennis Lord show.

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The Little Things You Remember 

Pat Roach and Kendo Nagasaki, 1971, two young men determined to give a spectacular show at the White Rock Pavilion, Hasting The two locked in a crotch hold, the smaller wrestler holding but his feet balanced precariously across the corner post on the middle ropes, the taller man's ankles fully 18 feet from the floor, given that this happened over one of the ring's big 10 feet drops, since this was a theatre. The two didn't know what to do, the pair were helpless, balance was all, danger and injury loomed. Five long minutes of the ten minute round they clung on to each other, precariously. Never seen anything like it, the ref also helpless...real excitement, neither could openly assist their foe. In the end, Roach managed virtually to fall back into the ring, the bell sounded, the timekeeper wisely added on 10 seconds to the break.

Anglo Italian 

Robert Bruce

Scotland’s 19 stone, and six feet plus, Robert Bruce was originally from Musselburgh, Edinburgh. 

After leaving grammar school Robert (his real name was John Young) trained as an accountant before giving it up in search of a more glamorous career, as a night club bouncer!  Maybe it was this real life experience that got him the part of a bouncer in the film "A Clockwork Orange."  

In 1961 when he was eighteen years old he  invaded the land of the sassenach and moved to London.   He trained at the United Amateur Wrestling Club having been spotted by Pasquale Salvo, and was active on Dale Martin bills from 1967 to 1971. 

Early bouts saw him billed as Robert the Bruce, the brave hearted Scottish warrior.  Despite some skill, and roughening up his style,  he never reached the top spot before engaging in a 1972 short tour of New Zealand from which he never seemed to return.  In New Zealand he became a celebrated wrestler and stuntman. 

Retiring from wrestling in 1977 he opened New Zealand's first talent and theatrical agency. He  was a supporter of the native Maoris, and vice-patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Robert Bruce passed away on 2nd March, 2009.  

George Bryan

A name not often remembered, but George Bryan of Leeds was a true pioneer.

On the day usually acknowledged as the launch day of British all-in wrestling, 15th December, 1930, George Bryan was in action. Not at the London or Manchester shows celebrated so often, but in a Doncaster show promoted by Harold Angus. Bryan defeated another Leeds wrestler, Tom McDermot, by two falls to nil in five minutes thirty seconds.

He was to remain a stalwart, low key player in British wrestling until the early 1940s.

Dave Bryson

Trained by veteran Norman Carter Lincoln's Dave Bryson came to our attention in 1967. The boy was popular and he was everywhere.  Well, everywhere around the Midlands with the odd jaunt northwards.  Opponents included Kendo Nagasaki, Barry Douglas, Mal Kirk, Les Kellett; most of the mid heavies and heavyweights in the north.

Two of wrestling's mysteries surround Dave Bryson. What was it with the gloves he wore? Was there some medical reason or just one of wrestling's most subtle gimmicks?  Secondly, after three years why did he disappear as quickly as he arrived?

Martin Bucht (Padvo Peltonin)

Heavyweight Martin Bucht was born in Estonia but by the early 1930s was living in Australia and was billed as Pacific Coast Heavyweight Champion. He is mostly associated with his frequent appearances in the all-in rings of the 1930s,  He came to Britain in the mid 1930s and wrestled around the country with many appearances  at the Blackfriars Ring.  He continued wrestling in Britain until 1950, and took part in the 1947 World Heavyweight Tournament at Harringay Stadium.

Ray Bukovac

French heavyweight made regular visits to Britain between 1946 and 1950. Brother of Rene Bukovac.

Rene Bukovac

The French mid heavyweight, and one time European champion,  visited Britain in the 1950s with a 1950 victory over Ernest Baldwin at Belle Vue, Manchester.  Brother of Ray Bukovac.

The Bulk

With the novelty of perhaps weighing in even heavier than Giant Haystacks at his peak, 42-stones The Bulk represented one of many eighties lows in professional wrestling. He made a ring appearance at a Wembley Extravaganza and then challenged Big Daddy in Gloucester.

By the time of his sole tv appearance, this poor young chap had still not mastered the role he had hastily been engaged to fill, that of a villainous foil to Big Daddy. Now maskless, he moved slowly around the ring, forgetful of what to do. Then he stomped up and down but faced the wrong direction and it looked ridiculous.

Even his opponent was guiding him as to what to do, and an improvised early finish was sensibly arranged, and the completely bewildered Bulk was ushered away to the dressing rooms.

Even the programmes said he had limitations and weak spots, even the promoters said he was grotesque.  Wrestling Heritage does not blame the wrestler, but how could the administrators have brought the sport into such pitiful disrepute?


George Bullock

George looked like his name: five foot eight and seventeen stone of fast moving aggressive bad temper in the ring. Worked for both Joint Promotions and Independent promoters in the 50s & 60s. Featured in bouts with Dennis and Jack Keegan, Jack Beaumont, Bill Coverdale, Jack Cassidy and was one of Billy Two Rivers first opponents in the UK. He had a series of bouts with another Red Indian, Chief Thunderbird who was based in Levenshulme Manchester that used to draw good crowds at local shows.
George ran into health problems in his early middle age and died suddenly in the early 70s. Unheralded but a good, solid heavyweight who could give and take with the best of them. 

Arnie Bullough

Brian Bullough  adopted the ring name Arnie Bullough and  his stature led to him being known as  “The Northumbrian Ox,” a heavyweight working for independent promoters such as Don Robinson  in the North East during the 1960s.