C: Cashford - Cawley
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Cab Cashford didn't exactly look the part of a rough and tough all-in wrestler, but he was one of the busiest workers of the 1930s, continuing his career following the Second World War and into the early 1950s. Often billed as American Cab's background was a little more prosaic, coming from the Lancashire town of Bolton, where he ran a well respected gymnasium above the Co-Op in Bridge Street. The gym was well respected because it was cleaner and better organised than most, and those attending were required to conform to Cab's high standards of discipline.
Derrick Hogan's acquaintance with Cab came not from the wrestling ring, but from the dance floor. Cab was a dancing instructor at the Bert Mayo School of Dancing in Bow Street, Bolton, in the early 1950s. Derrick remembers “Cab was a blg tough rugged guy, but a terrific teacher of ballroom dancing. I was of a large frame but overweight. Cab would say to me , 'Give me your body and I will make you an adonis.' I wish I had gone along with his ideas of trainlng me to become a successful bodybuilder. I have fond memories of a true gentleman.”
Heritage member Ron Historyo has discovered that Cab was often billed from Boston in the United States during the 1930s, During the second world war Cab served in the army and was billed as Sgt Cab Cashford of Bolton, "The Man of Action." Ron uncovered numerous reports of Cab's contests against top class opposition such as Billy Riley, Phil Siki, Sonny Wallis and Val Cerino.James Morton told us of a poster from 5 June 1950 with Cab Cashford v Val Cerino at the Leeds Town Hall. Cab was billed as from Bolton and said to be 'One of Britain's toughest'.
Cab Cashford was also a popular wrestler who worked in Spain and appeared in the British comedy film, "It's A Grand Life" (1953) alongside Diana Dors and Frank Randle.
Related article: On The Trail of Cab Cashford on www.wrestlingheritage.com
Cowboy Jack Cassidy
Jack Cassidy had a tendency to scare the living daylights out of fans when introduced by the Master of Ceremonies. Without warning, the cowboy jacketed stetson wearing wrestler would draw two revolvers from his holster and shoot them into the air. These proceedings were usually followed by a pretty rough bout in which the heavyweight rule bender would enrage fans with his dastardly deeds. Jack, whose home was more Manchester than the Calgary from which he was billed, was a protégé of Jim Hussey. He turned professional after leaving the army, having served in France during the Normandy landings. Jack was an Army Dispatch rider. One day he and his motorcycle was hit by a German shell, and he and his bike were blasted off the road and ended up in a heap at the bottom of a steep embankment. He was lying cut and injured for two days before a passing American convey picked him up and ferried him to a Red Cross hospital in Paris. Following the war Jack turned professional Jack wrestled for over twenty years, mostly on the independent circuit, but did do some work for Joint Promotions. Many a young wrestler owes his career to Jack who was one of the top promoters in Manchester and the north.
Jack Cassidy was known for being a supporter of good causes and put on a number of shows for charity or dedicated to individuals in need. Eddie Rose told us: Jack Cassidy put a benefit show on in Manchester at the Hulme Labour Club around 1976. The recipients were Johnny Clancy, the little deaf & dumb lightweight from Stockport who had been seriously ill and me. I'd been in Withington hospital for a couple of weeks and needed some weeks convalescence.
Jack got a group of lads including Mad Dog Wilson, Mark Wayne, Ezra Francis, Hans Streiger, Paul Carpentier, Brendan Moriarty, Micky Gold to work on the show and then invited Johnny and me into the ring at the end of the show and gave us the takings in a paper bag. It worked out at about £80 each. Useful money at the time and gratefully received by us both.
At Jack's funeral the Cowboy's theme song was played, the 'Lone Ranger' tune, with everyone clapping along.
Frank “Red” Cassidy
Frank Cassidy was born in Chester on 30th July, 1924, the son of James and Dora Cassidy. After leaving College School, Chester, aged fourteen, he became an apprentice bricklayer and could be found working for McLellans at the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. It wasn’t long afterwards, aged 16, that he took part in his first professional wrestling contests using the name Red Cassidy. He wrestled mostly closed to his home in Cheshire and opponents included Ted Betley and Jules Kiki. A small inconvenience called World War 2 got in the way and Frank joined the Navy as a cook, joining HMS Angel, an anti submarine trawler. We found Red Cassidy working in Scotland in 1944 and 1945, possibly an indication of where he was based. We are unaware of any continuation of his wrestling career following the end of the war. Frank Cassidy died in 2003.
In a wrestling career that seemed to fit itself mostly into the 1960s decade Tony Cassio certainly fit a lot into it. We first come across him in May, 1959, working for Dale Martin Promotions and tangling with the likes of Yuri Borienko and Johnny Yearsley. By the early 1960s Paul Lincoln was looking for talent for his fledgling wrestling promotion and in the early 1960s Tony began working for independent promoters in the south of England. Greek wrestler George Passalaris remembers Tony well, and told us how his new friend had looked after him following his arrival in London and introduced him to Paul Lincoln. Tony was one of George's first opponents on a Paul lincoln show. It was obviously a good match because we have found it not only recurring around the south of England, but in northern England too nd as far north as Edinburgh. Other regualr opponents at the time included Reg Trood, Bob Kirkwood and Fred van Lotta.
In December, 1961 we were surprised to find a sudden move back to Joint Promotions. Maybe they made him a good offer, or maybe it was the lure of television. Just six months later he was given national exposure when Dale Martin Promotions gave him his big chance on television. He took it, leading Clay Thomson until the seventh round when the more experienced Scot gained an equaliser. Tony punished Thomson for two rounds trying to gain a submission but the result was a very creditable draw for the young Cassio. He was to become a familiar figure to television audiences, meeting opponents of increasing size and stature: Johnny Czeslaw, Les Kellett, Ricky Starr to Bruno Elrington.
In the early 1960s Tony was a very prolific worker, not just in the south of England but throughougout the country and to Spain also. Making a study of his opponents we were surprised to find just about every heavyweight of note listed. Life was certainly busy for Cassio, who reached the next milestone of his career in 1967.
It was in late 1967 that Tony left Joint Promotions for the last time and set himself up as a rival promoter of his former bosses at Dale Martin. Centurion Promotions were created, employing many former Dale Martin workers that included Don Stedman, Josef Zaranoff and Docker Don Stedman. Tony himself worked on these shows under three guises, as himself and two masked characters, The Gladiator and The White Angel.
Tony Cassio disappeared from our wrestling radar in 1973. He died in 2017.
A giant of a man with an impressive physique the 6'4” Argentinian could deliver a dropkick as deftly as any lightweight. The heavyweight visitor of the late 1950s tackled and beat Britain's best of the day, including wins over Alan Garfield and Royal Albert Hall defeats of Ray Hunter, in 1956, and Francis St Clair Gregory in 1957. Abel had a background in boxing and counted Archie Moore amongst his opponents.
Salvador Vento Castella should not be confused with fellow Spaniard Vincente Castilla, who wrestled as Quasimodo.
Vento Castella had trained the Spanish Olympic wrestling team and made quite an impact on his British television appearances in 1964, failing in his bid at the Somme Barracks, Sheffield, to relieve Alan Colbeck of the European Welterweight Championship but gaining considerable compensation in battling through to the final of the 1964 Television trophy only to be knocked out by Mike Bennett in the final.
He went on to achieve a Royal Albert Hall draw with Jon Cortez.
An energetic and exciting Tunisian who settled in the Parisien suburb of Villiers and visited Britain in 1964 and held British lightweight champion Jim Breaks to a draw at the Royal Albert Hall. We did not see Catanzaro ourselves but have heard reports of an elegant and classical wrestler. He died on 26th April, 2013, aged 82.
Catweazle (Also known as Gary Cooper)
Millions loved him and a minority of purists were infuriated by Doncaster’s Gary Cooper, who adopted the name of a fictional television character. With long straggly hair and unruly beard it wasn’t his looks that made Catweazle so popular. Arriving at the ring in sackcloth the wrestler would remove his robe to reveal a lanky body wrapped in a gaudy wrestling outfit. Having placed his lucky-charm toad on the corner post the match would commence with Catweazle literally running rings round, and generally humiliating his hapless opponent. For the most part the fans loved his antics and Catweazle was one of the most popular of wrestlers throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was a tribute to the man that he was selected by Dale Martin Promotions to oppose Mick McManus in the Londoner’s final televised bout. The wrestler’s untimely death and subsequent cremation led to the inauguration of the annual British Wrestlers Reunion.
Al Marshall remembers his good friend Catweazle
I can put my hand on my heart and say he was the best pal I had in the wrestling business. My very dear friend Gary Cooper, alias Catweazle, passed away some time ago now. I was so sorry that because of my own ill health I had lost contact with him in the last few years of his life.
Gary and I started out in pro-grappling together when we were wrestling for the small independent promoters. Because of my full time employment at the time I could not travel more than one hundred miles for a bout, but as Gary worked for the railways be could travel up and down the country without it costing him a penny, and Gary enjoyed that.
Because of his wrestling skill I knew one day Gary would be a star in the big time so advised him to try Joint Promotions by writing to George Relwyskow whom I had known since childhood. So Gary wrote to Joint and George gave him a try out in Scotland. Some of the crowd called out to him "Catweazle" after the character in the children's tv series. Following that Gary developed his image appearing as the 11th-century wizard complete with plastic frog, which he always placed on the corner post.
Gary soon became the clown prince of British Wrestling a top of the bill star with a huge fan following who all loved his comedy antics in the ring which drove his opponents to distraction, giving him the edge which made him a winner in the squared circle.
Gary was a nice guy in or out of the ring.
We did a lot of shows together and many of them were over in Blackpool. I always took my family with me to the seaside shows and Gary always walked around with us on the sea front helping to carry my young sons and chatting with the holidaymakers, he loved children,
I remember one night just Gary and I were travelling together to a show in my car when another car pulled across us, causing both vehicles to pull up sharply. Gary put his head out of the window and said "What the chuffing heck are you doing pal?" to the driver of the other car who said "Oh-hell you're Catweazle the wrestler" and drove off in a hurry. Gary looked at me grinning and said "See it pays to be famous" as he laughed.
He was nick-named Chuffer because he always said chuffing this and chuffing that rather than swearing. He was a great wrestler. He had to be to play the fool so well.
I miss him and I know the wrestling world does too. He was an original and there will only ever be one Catweazle.
God bless you Gary, your pal always, Al Marshall.
Kevin Cawley (Also known as The Black Baron, The Outlaw, Dr Death, The Executioner, Pitbull, Spiderman)
A man of many guises Kevin Cawley is probably best remembered as the Black Baron, a villainous masked man of the late 1980s who was often accompanied by his manager Charlie McGee. As The Black Baron he appeared on television in 1980 partnering Yasu Fiji and in a Battle Royal won by Giant Haystacks. Eddie Rose remembers: "He was some character and I wrestled him and his manager, Charlie the Gent on many occasions. He promoted a lot of shows in the north west and he usually found a spot for me on these shows. My daughter, Rachel (aged about seven at the time) used to give Kevin a hard time whenever they met or spoke on the phone. She called him Kevin the Kitten after some TV programme. He used to rant and rave (show style) but loved the banter.
I remember wrestling him (and Charlie) on a school charity event in Manchester. They were giving me a hard time when, all of a sudden there was a blur of black & white, and the school chaplain (Father John Williams) decided to even things up and he jumped the ring and set about Kevin on my behalf. Eventually things calmed down and Father John agreed to have his photo taken with Kevin, shots of which appeared in the local paper and the Catholic Herald.
He worked under a variety of guises: The Outlaw, Spider Man, the Black Baron and always gave the audience entertainment and thrills. He had a lovely family in Wythenshawe and his premature death was a great shock to all he knew him. What a loss to his family and to the wrestling business."
Kevin Cawley made the ultimate sacrifice when he passed away in October 1992. He died suddenly during a wrestling bout at the Lewisham Concert Hall, aged just 42
Page revised: 8/7/2019: Cab Cashford entry updated
9/6/2019: Addition of Frank "Red" Cassidy"