M: Cliffe Milla
A Scandinavian Delight?
The independent promoters loved a bit of colour. Everything was just that bit bigger, brighter and often better than what could be seen in Joint Promotion rings. They needed to be better because they did not have the power of television to showcase their wrestlers and attract fans to their shows.
Leicester based promoter Jack Taylor always claimed that television benefited the independents because it attracted fans to the sport but they then turned to the independents for something a bit more exciting.
Mention of Jack brings us to our subject, one of his proteges who, as we have come to learn from Jack, was not quite everything he seemed.
Everyone that Jack brought into the wrestling world had to have an extra bit of flair. Our Scandinavian Delight was no exception.
Jack had the midas touch when it came to churning out professional wrestlers from his wrestling school, and one of the best workers of them all was Wally Barrowcliffe of Loughborough.
That's not a name known to wrestling fans, but mention Cliffe Milla to those who saw him in action during a twenty year plus career and fond memories will resurface. "A top man," wrestling colleague Mick Collins told us, "An excellent worker and nice bloke." Compliments don't come much better.
Another man singing his praises was Jack Taylor's brother Doug, who worked on the administrative side of the promotional business, "Cliffe Milla was one of the best workers of them all; reliable and always put on a good show."
"Mind you, he didn't say a lot," added Mick Collins, "Because he was supposed to be from Denmark."
Admittedly Denmark (sometimes Norway, or Sweden, occasionally German) are all a bit more exotinc sounding than his birth town of Loughborough and Cliffe Milla was easier for the autographs than Walter Michael Barrowcliffe. And where did the name come from? Well, just take the final syllable of his surname and and slightly amend the name of the place his daughter was born in Loughborough, Mill Lane.
We first come across Cliffe Milla in April 1960, some time after turning professional. He was in his early twenties and challenging Jack Taylor at Spalding for Taylor's European championship. Cliffe lost that one but it was the first of numerous championship challenges. Jack Taylor always enjoyed wrestling his young protege. For many years fans talked about Cliffe's three attempts to take Taylor's European lightweight title at the huge Granby Hall in Leicester, finally grabbing the title in their third contest.
Other opponents we found in those early days included Zoltan Boscik, Johnny Williams, Tony Scarlo and Bob Abbott. There's no doubt that Cliffe Milla was a grafter. He worked up and down the country for a variety of promoters, long distance travelling to Northern England, Scotland, South Wales, and the south coast.
The youngster learned a great deal from contests with more experienced opponents that included the very hard Jackie Harris, Hungarian Lazlo Bakjo, Welshman Killer Ken Davies but none more so than his mentor Jack Taylor.
Jack's brother, Doug, was full of praise for Cliffe, singling him out when we interviewed Doug a few years before his death. "He was a reliable worker. Not just a good man to work with in the ring, but very reliable. Jack knew that he could put Cliffe in with anyone and he could put on a good show."
For around twenty years Cliffe was a welcome inclusion on any wrestling bill around the country, remembered an celebrated almost half a century later. Cliffe Milla died on 24th June, 2018, following a long illness fighting cancer and asbestosis.
A delight? Definitely.