British wrestling history 
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C: Coulton - Cox

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Larry Coulton (Black Jack Mulligan)
A carpet fitter by day, a rough and rugged  fighter by night. That was Larry Coulton, fondly remembered by those that saw him, but we never considered him destined for the top. Bearded bad boy of the North East maybe it was the frequency of his losses that led villainous Laurie to scowl and complain. Nonetheless, the fans were happy to boo and jeer  Larry Coulton (family name Coulson), Black Jack Mulligan, or as he was alternatively billed. A value for money  mid card northerner from Newcastle who worked mainly for Morrell-Beresford Promotions in the late 1960s and 1970s. Trouble for Larry was that they were more interested in paying him to make their promising stars look good. Started his career as Larry Coulton later to be morphed into Black Jack Mulligan, or just Black Mulligan, complete with long black coat and three cornered hat.

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 (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.

Bernard Coward
See the entry for Spike O'Reilly 

John Cox
Nineteen stone John Cox took a career break from the ambulance service in 1965 and spent over ten years meeting the best professional wrestlers that Britain could offer, including Albert Wall, Count Bartelli, and Kendo Nagasaki. He was a popular wrestler who made numerous television appearances, but never truly climbed to the top rung of the professional ladder. After getting involved in martial arts through judo  John Cox trained as an amateur wrestler at the Tingley Amateur Wrestling Club as an apprentice of former heavyweight champion, Ernie Baldwin. John's interest in wrestling began when he served as a first aid volunteer at the SS Empire shows in York. With limited amateur experience he was offered a professional debut in October 1962, against fellow Yorkshireman Jim Armstrong, at Grantham. Two more contests quickly followed, against Jesse Hodgson and Ken Manning. By then John realised that if he was serious about wrestling he needed to learn a lot more, and so he took a break of about a year whilst he really learned the business. He returned on a part time basis in October, 1963 and  devoted his full time to the sport from 1965 until he returned to part time wrestling and ambulance driving in 1970. As a paramedic he was airlifted by the RAF from Pocklington to Lockerbie to assist with the Lockerbie air disaster. Following his retirement John Cox was involved in local politics as an independent councillor for many years.

Page reviewed: 3/4/19