WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Bill Coverdale

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Bill Coverdale
A first degree heavyweight villain, Big Bill was a headliner from the war years until the 1960s.  William Burton Coverdale was born in Prestwich on 6th December 1919, the son of Ernest and Annie.  A paratrooper in the second world war Cowboy Jack Cassidy always joked (very gently if Bill was in earshot) that too many parachute jumps caused Bill's apparently deformed  toes and feet. During the Second World War Bill served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and took part in air born landings in France and Holland. Eddie Rose described Bill as a softly spoken, pigeon-toed, portly Mancunian  with a lot of hidden menace.

Eddie remembers …. "In the ring Bill could work and with such nimbleness for a 17 stone heavyweight. One night after a show there was a police sergeant on duty at the venue; he reckoned he could "have" Coverdale, what, with his experience of street thugs etc. Bill said 'Right cocker, come on' The copper lasted three seconds then hit the deck very hard: Bill let him come in, deflected his leading arm and elbowed him in the throat. Bout over! Not quite, Bill then swept his feet away, Judo style.  Then he turned to us with a little grin on his face and said 'No contest!'.  Priceless moment."

We first find Bill Coverdale on the posters in 1948 working against other bruiser heavyweights like Jim Hussey, Man Mountain Benny, and a man with whom his career was forever entwined, Bomber John Bates. Bates was the run of the mill heavyweight who shortly after the war turned into the far from run of the mill masked heavyweight The Ghoul. 

With Bates and Coverdale most likely appearing simultaneously as The Ghoul in the late 1950s we cannot tell you just when Bates retired due to ill health though 1958 does seem a likely year. With the death of Bates in  August, 1961 Bill Coverdale continued both maskless and with two concealed identities, The Ghoul and The Pachyderm.

Coverdale did an admirable job as The Ghoul, working throughout the 1960s for the independent promoters, as a bill topping singles wrestler and tag partner of The Monster.and The Outlaw.  In April 1962 Rebel Ray Hunter unmasked The Pachyderm to reveal the identity of Bill Coverdale  A series of 1969 matches against The Outlaw (or at least the independent promoters version of The Outlaw) seems to have brought the Coverdale chapter of the Ghoul story to a close.

Mask or no mask, and there was a good twenty years career for Bill without the mask, he wrestled the top men in the business, working for both the independent and Joint Promotions. 1969 seems to have been his final year of regular bookings. Dale Storm met Bill when he was working as The Ghoul. Dale remembers a lovely man and told us "He could really wind up an audience by not doing a whole lot!"  Wasn't that the essence of a great pro wrestler?

Bernard Hughes remembers, “I vaguely remember Bill Coverdale's physical appearance, with blond hair and the programme, with typical understatement, had him billed as The Biggest, Baddest Man on the Planet."  Bernard was fortunate enough to witness a match between Bill Coverdale and the original Ghoul, Bomber Bates. It was said Coverdale was coming to whip The Ghoul. Bernard recalled, "He was big, he was strong and he was tough - but not as big, strong or as tough as The Ghoul. So he lost!”

Bill was an "old pro" in the kindest sense of the words and an engagingly laconic travel companion. Eddie Rose remembers a short tour  with him (and several others) to venues like Kings Lynn, Norwich etc in the mid-70s. Eddie mentioned that he noticed Bill never actually ordered or paid for a meal. "He would nonchalantly helped himself from everyone else's plates with a,  'Those chips like nice, cocker. I'll try a couple.'  Too big to argue the toss with he made a circuit of the all the plates on the table!l Bill is still remembered with affection in our part of the world. Bill was a Manchester-based wrestler, a Manchester City fan, and landlord of the Bridge Inn on Manchester Road, Bury in his later years." 

Bill Coverdale died in June, 1974.  "A big gentle giant" is how his  cousin Norma described him.

Related article: The Ghoul

Page added 05/12/2021