WRESTLING HERITAGE

C: Bull Coleman & Vic Coleman


Bull Coleman


Aubrey Coleman represented Britain in the middleweight freestyle competition in the 1908 Olympic Games, placed 5th after losing to the eventual gold medal winner Stanley Bacon (George F DeRelwyskow took silver). As well as a Graeco-Roman style champion Aubrey was also one of the country's best catch-as-catch-can wrestlers.


Born in Mildenhall, Suffolk on 3rd February, 1888 Aubrey worked as a storekeeper before becoming an all-in wrestler in the 1930s. We came across him for the first time in January 1932 already given the name Bull Coleman, an acknowledgement of his 15 stones and aggressive style. He wrestled top men such as Karl Pojello, Douglas Clark and George Boganski.


By 1939 Aubrey was employed at the Gas Works on London’s Old Kent Road and listed his occupation as "Sports Secretary and physical training instructor." Living in Beckenham Aubrey and his wife, Catherine, had already taken care of his wrestling legacy with the birth of his son, Victor.


Aubrey Coleman died on 17th November 1943, aged 55.


Vic Coleman


Vic Coleman was born on 9th June, 1920, the son of Aubrey and Catherine. With an Olympian wrestler as a dad who ran a gym it was hardly surprising that young Vic took up wrestling. He was only eight or nine when he began going to the gym, meeting numerous wrestling friends of his dad and having a pull around with them.


Having done a few exhibition matches Vic began accepting paid matches when he was just fifteen years old and a pupil at Bromley Grammar School. With more than a passing nod to his father he was known initially as Young Bull, the World's Youngest wrestler. We found him for the first time in September, 1935, wrestling at the Chelsea Palace. What must it have felt like to a fifteen year old to be sharing a dressing room with Bulldog Bill Garnon and Gaston Gheveart?


Vic's career was interrupted by serving in the RAF during world war two. He was called up early in 1940 and passed the Physical Training Instructor course with distinction. Vic performed in many Air Force concerts, mostly as an impressionist, and was accepted as a member of E.N.S.A. (The Entertainments National Service Association) Whilst serving in the R.A.F. he took part in the first professional wrestling match in Ceylon.


Following the war Vic returned to the ring to go on to greater success. He worked for various promoters including Atholl Oakeley, of whom he was very dismissive, Dale Martin Promotions and Relwyskow Green.


In 1947 Vic and Johnny Lipman were the stars of a BBC Television programme, I Want To Be A Wrestler.


Post war opponents included top men like Les Kellett, Jack Dempsey and Mick McManus. That's because Vic was a first class middleweight himself, wrestling full time around the country for twenty years. In March, 1951, Vic won a knock out tournament at the Wimbledon Palais to win the Empire middleweight title. Others competing were Dan Darby, Ken Joyce, Ken Wilson, Charles "College Boy" Law, Bob Russell, Russ Bishop, and Johnny Lipman.


Never achieving the name recognition of his friends Mick McManus, Joe D'Orazio or Steve Logan Vic's credentials match the very best. He retired from wrestling in 1963, our last sighting being against another man who was to remain a friend for the rest of his life, Bert Royal.


Vic Coleman died in 2013.

Page added 10/04/2022