WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Corrigan - Coverdale

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

George Corrigan
We have found only two references to this man who was said to be Heavyweight Champion of South Africa in 1933. On 3rd March he lost to Bert Assirati in Nottingham. Two weeks later he pulled out of the return match due to injury.

Braka Cortez  
Billed as Brazilian, maybe he was born there, Braka Cortez will be forever linked with the Australian wrestling scene of the 1960s, particularly with the WCW. Whilst he did dutifully go down to the visiting international stars Braka Cortez was a versatile, hard working wrestler worthy of respect. A consumate professional we are told that Braka was willing to do whatever was required.   A good guy one week, a villain the next Braka was willing to fill the role required to make a show a success. One man who gained his respect was wrestler Big John Marshall, a man who was often in the oppositie corner. Big John told us that he enjoyed working with Braka more than about enyone else.

Braka lived in Bonnyrigg, a suburb twenty-three miles west of the centre of Sydney, New South Wales. We discovered him wrestling in 1958, his debut year, working in Sydney clubs for promoter George Gardiner.

A muscular, powerful heavyweight he came to Britain the following year, a four week tour November, 1959. Top class opponents included Norman Walsh, Ray Apollon, Johnny DaSilva and Alan Garfield.  At the Royal Albert Hall he had the dubious privilege of being matched with Mike Marino, dutifully going down to the popular Brit.

Heritage member Graeme Cameron has told us Braka inadvertently found himself in a position of power in late 1969 when a group of twelve wrestlers,  including himself, broke away from Hal Morgan to form their own promotion after being refused a pay  rise. He was appointed matchmaker, referee and liaison to WCW promoter Jim Barnett, handling the  arrangements for supplying talent to the larger promotion, mainly because he got along with everyone.

Braka Cortez moved to Brisbane in the early 1970s and turned to refereeing. By the mid 1970' he was a full time referee for WCW. (the independent promotion only lasted two years) . Braka Cortex died in Brisbane in 2014 from Alzheimer's Disease.

Pepe Cortez
Standing 6’4” tall and weighing over twenty stones Spanish heavyweight Pepe Cortez visited the UK in the fifties and sixties, before going on to further success in the USA, where he was known as Hercules Romero, Hercules Cortez and a variety of other names.

He was born on 7th July, 1932 named Alfonso Carlos Chicharro.  He arrived in Britain in 1957, staying about a month and losing to Bill Verna at the Royal Albert Hall. He returned for another short visit in November, 1963, this time working mainly in northern England and Scotland. Although now known as Hercules Cortez in the United States he retained the name Pepe in Britain.

Pepe was tragically killed in  a car crash on the return from a wrestling show on 24th  1971, aged 39.
Tony Cortez
Fast moving Lightweight of the 1960s and 1970s who independent promoters crowned European lightweight champion.

Tony Costas
Another of the clean cut skilful 1960s welterweights who worked regularly but failed to stand out in a crowd of talented wrestlers.  One of fifteen siblings Tony Costas came to the UK in 1961 as an engineering student, and turned professional wrestler only a year later. By then he had served a three year apprenticeship an amateur in both Cypus and Britain. Merifully for MC's and television commentators Tony dropped his family name of   Hajihannas when he turned professional. Costas would also save a lot of time when signing autographs! A speedy, technical wrestler Tony was renowned for his drop kick and seen at his best in matches against other technicians such as Jon Cortez, Al Miquet and Leon Fortuna.  On one of his return visits to Cyprus he defeated Apostolos Souclekas to win the Cypriot welterweight title.

Chris Cougar
A bundle of dynamite yet a hard wrestler the 1980s, from Douglas in the Isle of Man. Chris was an all action wrestler trained by Ted Bectey, mentor of Dynamite Kid, after Ted moved to the Isle of Man. He made two television showings, losing to Richie Brooks after taking the opening fall, and then unluckily losing to  Alan Kilby in a British light heavyweight championship clash at Keighley in September, 1988. Had wrestling on television continued we are sure Chris Cougar would have become a popular and well known name.

Bob Courage
Popular Southampton lightweight wrestler of the 1960s and 1970s who trained at Bruno Elrington's gym in Portsmouth. Bob was a popular worker around the south of England, billed as British lightweight champion by members of the British Wrestling Association. Bob lived in Soberton Heath which is near Wickham in Hampshire (between Southampton & Portsmouth) and began life working for the independent promoters. He met Joint opposition in the form of Zoltan Boscick, Steve Grey and Clive Myers whilst working for Devereaux Promotions, but preferred life on the opposition circuit where he promoted his own shows under the Intercontinental Promotions banner. A short story about Bob, passed on by Ian Dowland, who owned Solent Wrestling Promotions, “Bob’s wife came from Yorkshire, and whilst they were on holiday visiting her family Bob went training at a gym in Leeds that he used to attend, he was training with Al Marshall, who was an Ace Promotions wrestler. Bob was practicing his ‘drop kick’ when it went wrong and knocked out Al Marshall’s teeth, I believe that Al lost about  three teeth.”

Steve Courage
Steve Stephenson was landlord of the Red Lion public house in Wadhurst, Sussex. When he wasn't he was Steve Courage the wrestler. The name Courage came from the brewer that served the pub, Courage. Whilst landlord of the Red Lion Steve met a young wrestler called Eric Dudley. The two became friends and Steve agreed to open a wrestling gym on the premises, as long as Eric taught him to wrestle. Deal done, and Steve Stephenson became Steve Courage the wrestler, as we ll as one half (along with Eric) of Den Promotions, training local lads and promoting shows in Sussex. 

Big Bill Coverdale (Also known as The Ghoul, Pachyderm) 
A first degree heavyweight villain, Big Bill was a headliner from the war years until the 1960s. Eddie Rose described Bill as a softly spoken, pigeon-toed, portly Mancunian  with a lot of hidden menace. Bill had been in the Paras in WW2 (“the heaviest paratrooper in the services”) and 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 took part in airborn landings in France and Holland.
 
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.

Bernard Hughes remembers, “I vaguely remember Bill Coverdale's physical appearance, with blond hair and that he was as tall as one of  his first opponents but not as bulky. The previous week's programme, with typical understatement, had billed him as "The Biggest,Baddiest Man on the Planet"  who was coming to whip The Ghoul. He was big , he was strong and he was tough- but not as big, strong or as tough as The Ghoul. So he lost!”  Ironically Bill often worked as the Ghoul himself."

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. I noticed he never actually ordered or paid for a meal. He 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 as 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.

Page revised 16/02/2021: Addition of Bob Courage, Steve Courage, Bill Coverdale

22/12/2019: Update of Braka Cortez entry, update of Pepe Cortez entry

24/10/2019: Update of Braka Cortez entry

09/06/2019: Addition of George Corrigan

05/11/2020; Basil Coulolias moved to www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk/basil-coulolias