WRESTLING HERITAGE

B: Billy Blackfoot

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Billy Blackfoot


Billy Blackfoot had a name that stood out. Not his birth name of course, but a memorable choice. When we first saw the name on a poster at the Floral Hall, Southport, it was one that attracted us, and we were not disappointed. He had the skill, the speed and the looks to ensure fans went home satisfied.

William Slater was born in 1936. Growing up in Birkenhead he obtained a  heavy motor engineering apprenticeship after he left Tollemache School. Success in the National Craftsman Examination in Engineering  and he gained employment as a heavy motor mechanic.

In 1953, aged 17, Billy volunteered for  the Royal Naval Reserve and took up a four year service on HMS Eaglet, berthed at Salthouse Dock, the Royal Naval Reserve in Liverpool. With the Naval Reserve experience when Billy was called up for  National Service in 1957  he opted for the Royal Navy as a Mechanical Engineer. For the following three years he served on minesweepers in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

It was Billy's naval experience that led to him dropping his family name in favour of his ring name. He served on  three minesweepers  in the 104th Squadron, which was known as the Blackfoot squadron and carried the Red edged triangle with  the blackfoot print on the funnel. 

With television popularising wrestling in the early 1960s Billy got involved. He learned the business at Ellesmere Port alongside Monty Swan, Steve Veidor, Buddy Ward and  Brian Maxine.  He started working for independent promoters, making his debut in Oswestry in the early 1960s and for a time worked with Brian Maxine as The Merseysiders tag team. One historical moment for Billy that few can claim (and fewer would want to) is that he wrestled at the New Brighton Tower the night before the ballroom was destroyed by fire in April, 1969. 

In 1965 Billy served in the West Indies as part of "Operation Stop Gap."  On his return to the UK from the West Indies he was taken on by Joint Promotions,  and we find him working for Billy Best and Wryton Promotions against the likes of Barry Cannon, Alan Dennison, Chic Purvey and Al Miquet. Naval duties kept him close to home and he was a familiar figure at Liverpool Stadium and Blackpool Tower. A match against Mike Bennett at Blackpool Tower was acclaimed by many regulars as the fight of the season. That's not to say Billy didn't travel and he made frequent visits to the midlands for Wryton Promotions and more extensively in the north for Relwyskow & Green.

Billy left the navy in 1970, missing out on a long service medal by seven days. Having married in 1966 and with a family that would eventually lead to three children Billy always had his feet on the ground and made sure his family were well cared for by keeping a full time job as a specialised coded fitter and welder for Lever Brothers.

Page added 12/12/2021

Reviewed 17/03/2022