C: Crossley - Cutler

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Sam Crossley
We came across Sam Crossley at Newcastle in September, 1944 fighting Alf Rawlings. It was the first of many finds through the 1940s  with heavyweight Sam wrestling some of the biggest names of the time: Charlie Scott, Bert Collins, Jack Pye and Jack Atherton.

Imre Csak
A young Hungarian who settled in Leicester after coming to Britain following the 1956 uprising. He and his friend took up body building and was later persuaded to turn to professional wrestling by promoter Jack Taylor. We find Imre wrestling in 1960 which we estimate to have been his first year of wrestling. Weighing around the eleven stone mark his opponents included Taylor, Cliffe Milla, Danny Flynn. His regular tag partners were Hungarian friends Georgy Cselko and Lazlo Bajko. His wrestling career seems short lived and we find him no later than 1965.

Gyorgy Cselko
Gyorgy Cselko was one of the refugees from Hungary who came to Britain following the 1956 uprising. A teenager at the time he settled in Leicestershire

George and his friend Imre Csak trained at the Leicester YMCA. Wrestling, though, was not Gyorgy’s primary interest, and was never to be. His main interest has always been in physical culture and developing his one time eight stones of skin and bones.  

 Like so many, it wasn’t too long before his path crossed with wrestler, trainer and promoter Jack Taylor.  Taylor encouraged Gyorgy and Imre to try out wrestling.  He turned professional in 1960,travelling the country for independent promoters with opponents that included Vince Apollo, Jack Cassidy, Bobo Matu and Dwight J Inglebergh. In tag matches he often teamed with his friend Imre Csak. Always mindful of his diet and weight training routines Gyorgy admitted that wrestling and physical culture did not go together easily.

According to his obituary in The Stage the first opponent of Pat Roach was Gyorgy Cselko. Gyorgy wrestled for eight years. He was even bestowed with a European Heavyweight title so that he could drop it to local boy Vince Apollo in 1967. Cselko disappeared afterwards, finally retiring in 1968. He continued his interest in body building and worked at the Leicester Y.M.C.A.

Jim Cully
In April 1950, when Irishman Jim Cully “The Gargantuan Gael” was brought over from Ireland to face American Ed Don Virag at Harringay Stadium.  Promoter Athol Oakeley claimed the Irishman stood 7'7” tall and weighed 24 stones. Virag defeated him. Oakeley may have been overstating, but not by much, various sources record Culley as 7'2” tall.  "The Tiperary Giant"  started out as a weightlifter on Irish fairgrounds before turning to fairground wrestling and professional wrestling. Made the unusual route of  going to the United States in 1948 and turning from professional wrestling  to professional boxing,  but seems to have fought only a couple of professional boxing matches.

Jack Cunningham
In days when wrestling barefoot was considered an exciting gimmick, though his rather splendid monkey climbs may also have endeared him to fans,  Jack Cunningham was a popular South African middleweight who came to Britain in 1938 and went on to become an equally popular referee following his retirement due to a neck injury, sustained at Exeter in 1964. In his youth Jack was a champion swimmer in South Africa, representing his country against the United States of America whilst a teenager. During the war Jack served in the South African Air Force. For quite a few years he lived in Manchester, where he shared his wrestling commitments with playing rugby for Sale Rugby Union Football Club. 

Pat Curry (Canada)
Maybe the name just didn't suit the suave north American image, but the wavy haired, good looking Canadian, Pat Girard adopted the name Pat Curry when he made his 1947 debut in British rings. We can also find little evidence of Pat being a big name wrestler in North America as, unsurprisingly, British fans were led to believe. We do know, however, that following his British wrestling activity Pat returned to his Montreal home where he become one of the most highly respected Canadian wrestling trainers, responsible for mentoring  Pat Patterson, Terry Garvin, Ronnie Garvin, and  Sunny War Cloud amongst others.  

Pat was a familiar heavyweight in British rings from 1947 until the mid 1950s.  He met all the great names of the day, men such as Bert Assirati, Francis St Clair Gregory, Dave Armstrong and Ernest Baldwin, and losing to Tony Mancelli in a World Junior heavyweight title clash.

Dane Curtis
Popular light heavyweight from Rochdale in the 1960s and 1970s. Dane was a fast and athletic skilful wrestler whose skills were honed at the Wryton Stadium gym at the weekends under the tutorship of old timers like Alf Cadman.

Jan Curtis
Jan Curtis had a long amateur career. A very long and distinguished career, having first taken to the mat in 1964. It was sixteen years later, in 1980, that he turned professional, having received guidance from Mick McManus. Jan wrestled for Dale Martin Promotions for three years, during which he made television appearances against Johnny Saint and Sid Cooper,  before being lured away by the amateur code once again when offered the role of coach to the Maltese Olympic Team. He stayed in the post until 1991.

King Curtis
One of the big names of pre war wrestling who travelled up and down the country wrestling all the big names of the time. He was a formidable heavyweight known as "His majesty of the Mat."  We have been told King Curtis also had the nickname "Rosie," but we don't know why. 
Long before Leon Arras he would ask " 'ow's that?" after an impressive move King Curtis would entertain fans with similar quips.

A powerful heavyweight his style led to the nickname ?The bull without horns.? Curtis was another creation of wrestler/promoter Atholl Oakeley, who did so much to popularise wrestling in Britain during the 1930s. 
Oakeley used the 16 stone Londoner against all his main event me, such as Karl Pojello, Jack Sherry, Carver Doone, Norman the Butcher, Henry Irslinger and, of course, himself. 

Curtis wrestled Oakeley at Lanes Club, London, in November 1931 in front of 1,000 fans. It was reported that Curtis had the better of the first two rounds but Oakeley won by the only fall in the third of the ten minute rounds. When Curtis faced Henry Irslinger at Nottingham in November, 1934,it was said to be one of Irslinger's hardest matches in Britain. Irslinger won by a fall with two and a half minutes to go, just in time as Curtis was ahead on points.Curtis liberally applied to the rules of All-In, most of his matches being violent affairs, as reported in this match at Preston in 1935. Ironically, Preston was one of the towns that refused to accept most of the violent excesses seen in many 1930s wrestling halls. "Carver Doone was leaning over the top ropes being counted out in the fifth round when Curtis rushed at him and aimed several blows at his head. The referee (Tommy the Demon) tried to break Curtis away, whereupon Curtis struck the referee under the jaw before making another attack on the helpless Doone. A scrummage followed on the floor, and when order was restored the contest was awarded to Doone, Curtis being disqualified.  Curtis was booed as he left the hall and the referee received a tremendous ovation."

Along with other wrestlers that included Jack Pye, Bob Gregory, and Leo Wax he appeared in the 1936 film "All In."
Following the end of the Second World War he returned to the ring, wrestling the likes of Bert Assirati  Jack Pye and Bomber Bates, finally disappearing at the end of 1946.

Steve Lee Curtis (Also known as Steve Silver)
Steve Silverman wrestled professionally from the mid 1970s and through the 1980s. A fan from childhood it was while watching the wrestling at his local Brent Town Hall that Steve decided he too would become a wrestler. Born in London in 1960 Steve Silverman started wrestling as Steve Silver and later changed it to Steve Lee Curtis in tribute to actor Tony Curtis. After retiring from wrestling Steve continued to train youngsters and  went on to work as a hospital porter at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow. 

Eric Cutler
Eric Kendall adopted the name Eric Cutler, and for this tough as boots Yorkshireman it was a name that fit. "You're not kidding," "Eric's son Howard told us, "Eric also worked as a bouncer at several night clubs in Sheffield after giving up the Angel pub in the village of Eckington.  I was with him on several occasions when, only being 5 foot 6 inch, he took on more than one person towering above him. If he could not talk them into a calmer state, he always tried diplomacy first, but if that didn't work he wasn't frightened to get his hands dirty as they say. He was a real hard man." 

Sheffield steel Eric Cutler was a bearded rule bender who looked the part even before he started wearing the black leather hood which became a trademark. Trained by Les Kellett Eric turned professional in 1959, being given a chance by Leeds promoter George de Relwyskow.  In January, 1961 he was introduced to a national audience by promoter Norman Morrell who matched him against Sid Cooper in a televised contest from Preston. In the months that followed Eric was back on the television screen in matches against Jim Breaks and Jim Mellor. 

After half a dozen uneventful years in which Eric learned his trade and gained respect around the halls he got his big break in the mid 1960s when he was catapulted into the role of top tv bad boy. This was when  John Foley turned publican in the summer of 1966  and left a vacancy in the Black Diamonds tag team and it was Eric chosen by Abe Ginsberg to step into his shoes. 

He turned out to be a perfect replacement and the Diamonds went from strength to strength with their trademark beards and black leather helmets, which in the 1960s we rated as an exciting gimmick.  Tag team wrestling was an important element of wrestling  in the 1960s, considered essential for a good night out to many fans. A handful of top teams captured the imagination of fans – the Royals, the Hells Angels, the White Eagles, the Jet Set and the Black Diamonds. When Wrestling Heritage counted down the Top Tag Teams the Black Diamonds were runners up, second to only the Royal Brithers and ahead of all the aforementioned teams and even ahead of McManus and Logan.

For quite a few years Eric shared his wrestling duties with his role of landlord of The Angel public house in Eckington, which he left in the summer of 1970. Eric continued to work as a club doorman on the nights he wasn't wrestling, which were not many, being a popular worker for all the Joint Promotion members.

Following his retirement Eric had only fond memories of his wrestling days, telling his family of great days travelling around the country, to Scotland and the south of England for a week at a time, and no memories happier than the times he and Abe escaped from angry fans. Those were the nights they could reassuringly tell themselves they were the bad guys. Job done!

Eric Cutler died in July, 2003.

Page revised 9/6/2019: Addition of Sam Crossley