WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Craddock - Cristel

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Bert Craddock (Also known as Wilson Sheppard)
Dwight J Ingleburgh described Bert Craddock as "Simply the best...he could hold his own with the best and always stuck out for fair wages for the lads."

Bert Craddock was a very hard man; a tough wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s. Born and bred in 1927 in Barnsley even the lure of full time bookings with Dale Martin Promotions if he moved south were not enough to tempt Bert away from his Yorkshire roots. 

On leaving school Bert went to work in the coal mines. Like just about every Barnsley youngster interested in boxing or wrestling Bert was influenced by Charlie Glover who taught the sports at his gymnasium. Bert started out learning to box at Glover's gym, at that time situated behind the Junction Public House.  

The lure of wrestling was too great and Charlie could see the youngster had potential as a professional. Bert turned professional in the late 1940s (we have a record of matches in 1949), initially using the name Wilson Shephard (with various spellings).  

In April, 1950 Bert was paid the princely sum of £2.10/- (£2.50) for boxing a four round   exhibition match with Bruce Woodcock at Dillington Park Greyhound Stadium. Woodcock was preparing for his world title fight gainst Lee Savold

Sam Betts (Dwight J Ingleburgh) was a good friend of Bert's and keen that Heritage should not allow him to be forgotten, "Bert and I worked a lot together and always gave a good no nonsense bout."   In the mid 1950s he dropped the Wilson Shephard name and began using his birth name of name Bert Craddock. By then a regular worker for Joint Promotions at the biggest halls (Belle Vue, St James Hall) against top heavyweights such as Norman Walsh, Billy Joyce, and Dave Armstrong. When a young wrestler named Max Crabtree started promoting in opposition to Joint Promotions he was quick to recruit Bert to his group of workers, resulting in Bert leaving Joint Promotions. He returned to Joint Promotion rings for a short time in 1962 (again using the name Wilson Sheppard) before retiring in the independent rings in 1964. 

Bert Craddock died in 2007, he had just turned eighty.

Floyd Craggs (Also known as Pretty Boy Floyd)
The North East has a rich tradition of professional wrestling and that tradition was continued for many years by Pretty Boy Floyd, a regular worker on the independent scene in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Talk amongst the North Eastern brigade reminiscing the good old days and the name of Floyd Craggs crops up quickly and regularly, alongside those of Johnny Peters, Laurie Coulton, Boy Devlin, Les Prest and more. Floyd was a wartime baby, born on 9th October, 1944 in Mickley, North Yorkshire. He and his younger brother, Mervyn, shared an interest in wrestling and learned the business alongside their friend, Dave Parfitt, who  wrestled as Johnny Peters. Floyd, Mervyn, Dave and Steve Parfitt trained regularly at Grewelthorpe Mill , and were soon considered good enough to be given regular bookings by the independent promoters such as Cyril Knowles and Ron Farrar.  Mid heavyweight champion  Norman Walsh also had an influence on the youngster at his gym in Thirsk. . Floyd's potential was spotted by Max Crabtree, travelling to Halifax to train on Sunday mornings. This brought regular bookings for Joint Promotions and the sharing of the ring with Les Kellett, Dynamite Kid,  Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Floyd was just 34 at the time of  his tragic and untimely death in 1978. The Crabtree brothers and Giant Haystacks were amongst the mourners at his funeral. Floyd's children are seeking information and memories of their father. Please post your memories in the forum or contact this website.

Colin Craig
A 1970s -1980s wrestler with a distinctive clown tattoo on his chest Colin Craig was trained by Brian Trevors and worked for both the independent and Joint Promotions. Heritage member Norfolk Snake, who wrestled heavy-middleweight Colin Craig on a number of occasions, told us he was “A great worker and lovely bloke who could have gone further given the right breaks.” Unfortunately for Colin we gather that quite a bit of his time was spent wearing a mask and  taking in Big Daddy tag matches, partnering Dave Daring, a cul-de-sac for any wrestling career however promising.

Another fans was Heritage member Suffolk Punch, “I did see Colin Craig wrestle a few times but without a mask. He once wrestled Count Bartelli in Lowestoft.  He was a very good wrestler. I will always remember his response to one opponent in the ring. When his opponent said ‘No, no, no., Colins response was Yes, yes. Yes.’.  I am glad that he did get to wrestle for Joint Promotions, he was certainly good enough!"

Ray Crawley (Also known as Spiderman)
We saw him, we liked him, but know precious little about him. At a time when wrestling was on the decline here was a talented and popular 1970s and 1980s performer who worked for both Joint Promotions and the independents over a career spanning more than twenty years. A professional career that began aged 16 saw him draw with Micky Sullivan in a European Middleweight title match. On one of his televised appearances Ray wrestled as  one of those rare masked men, a good guy, Spiderman. Ray trained youngsters at  gymnasiums in Essex and also taught the cast of the television drama, Trafford Tanzi.

Arthur Creep     
Plymothian heavyweight who was reported to be skilled but rough for whom we have a handful of matches between 1936 and 1939.

Terry Cristel
The Sussex town of Brighton was vulnerable to attack by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The most damaging raid was on 25th May, 1943 when twenty-four bombers targeted the town. A few months later, as 1943 neared it’s end,  Terence Ellingford  was born. . 

As a teenager his ambitions were not to wrestle but to become a youth worker. It was an ambition he was to pursue with some energy, completing a course at Brunel University and further courses in counseling young people. He was to go on to work with young people for thirty years.

So, what about the wrestling? 

The fair came to Brighton and one of the side shows was a wrestling booth. Terry, who was wrestling as an amateur,  went inside to watch a local wrestler, Ray Luxford.  Also in the booth was Alec Taylor. Alec was an old school friend but the two hadn’t seen each other for some time. Catching up on each other’s news Terry told Alec of his interest in gymnastics and amateur wrestling.

Alec, who along with his brothers Tony and Patrick were starting out as wrestlers themselves, suggested that Terry gave the professional game a try. Easily persuaded Terry sought the help of Ray Luxford and began to learn the rudiments of professional wrestling under the guidance of Ray and Mel James, both terrific teachers Terry told us.

When the time was deemed right Terry made his professional debut, discarding his birth name and becoming Terry Cristel at the suggestion of his friend Alec Taylor. With so many wrestlers coming from Brighton Terry chose to be billed from the West Country. Ray Luxford promoted Terry’s first match and quite a few of his early ones. As he gained experience he became known to other independent promoters and often worked  for Jackie Pallo.  Amongst his most memorable opponents he named Ricky Silver and Ray Luxford. 

Terry was a ringside fan at the Brighton Sports Stadium. His own favourite wrestlers were George Kidd, Julian Morice (who he was fortunate enough to work with), Jim Jim Breaks, Billy Robinson, and Colin Joynson.

Apart from wrestling and youth work Terry also worked as a cash register service engineer, for British Telecom, and finally managed a pub  in Wiltshire.ir Gregory, Dave Armstrong and Ernest Baldwin, and losing to Tony Mancelli in a World Junior heavyweight title clash.

Page revised 16/08/2020: Addition of Colin Craig

9/6/2019: Addition of Charlie Creep, Terry Cristel