C: Crawley - Curry
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Ray Crawley (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.
Plymothian heavyweight who was reported to be skilled but rough for whom we have a handful of matches between 1936 and 1939.
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.
Read our extended tribute: Romeo Romeo
See the sentry for Ragnor the Viking
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.
A new heavyweight masked man appeared on the wrestling scene in 1964. This one was hard to miss; he was dressed head to toe in white. His speciality was predictably called the crucifix, and Jim Hussey is seen above as the unfortunate recipient. Find out more and discover who was beneath the mask in the Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.
Chic Cullen (Robbie Stewart)
Frank “Chic” Cullen was a British wrestling great of the latter part of the twentieth century. A world heavy middleweight champion who found success on both sides of the Atlantic, but we guess did have a few regrets that he had not been born a few years earlier. Fans should be thankful to the likes of Chic Cullen that British wrestling survived into the twenty-first century. Born twenty years earlier Cullen would still have been a major player in the more competitive days of the 1960s, combining charisma, action and wrestling skill.
Who could possibly tell his story better than the man himself?
From early childhood to this day I've been asthmatic and it's through that I got into wrestling really. I recall not being able to run without collapsing in a heap struggling for breath. In those days Asthma treatment meant for me a three month stay in Bannockburn hospital near Stirling. I always had an interest in wrestling from watching World Of Sport on Saturday afternoons with my Granny Jenny. Fun for us as 13 -14 year olds was a twice weekly trip to the local Argyll Youth Club in Stirling. It's there that I met Brian McInally who was teaching Amateur Wrestling, and since I couldn't play too much five-a-side footy like my pals I took up Brians offer to join in.
Soon we moved to nearby Bridge of Allan amateur wrestling club. I enjoyed it very much and although not too successful it was enough to get me hooked on all things wrestling.
At sixteen I met Orig Williams who was promoting shows at the Albert Hall in Stirling. I approached him a few times and was given 'the short sharp shift' for which he was renowned. However I persevered and finally got an opportunity to get in the ring with the late Brian Mason (Crusher Mason or at that time The Mighty Chang). He, and the also late Steve Peacock provided me with the springboard to becoming a pro-wrestler. Orig asked to meet my parents and told them I may have what it takes and he'd like me to relocate to Rhyl .... I thought where? Never heard of it!!
My parents who seemed delighted at the prospect of getting rid of me consented and off I went. After a few hours of training and debut matches, we were off to Sunny Spain! Me on tour as a pro-wrestler in Sunny Spain? You can imagine how excited I was at that prospect.... If I told you it was one of the worst experiences of my life I wouldn't be lying.
We travelled all over the country in a twin wheelbase transit complete with ring onboard, performing in Bull Rings, some that hadn't been used in years, some were derelict! In one Bull ring the curator was scything the long grass where the seating area was, as we erected the ring in the middle. Quite often no more than 10 or 12 people would show up..... What a let down to say the least, then we found ourselves not being paid for days on end and getting rather hungry at times.
Crusher however was to be saviour, we all laughed when he packed his primus stove and accessories back in the UK.... we weren't laughing when he proudly produced it in the middle of a car park somewhere in Madrid and proceeded to make us all lunch! Those of you who knew him will remember his array of gadgets, swiss army knives, torches etc etc.... God Bless him.. By the time we returned to the UK I was ringman/driver/wrestler/gophur etc etc..... Pro-Wrestling The Big Time!!
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.
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.
Page revised 9/6/2019: Addition of Charlie Creep, Terry Cristel and Sam Crossley