WRESTLING HERITAGE

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D: Davies - Deakin

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Bearded Ken Davies (Maesteg) 
Born on 31st December, 1915 James Kenneth McTiffin was to become heavyweight wrestler Bearded Ken Davies.

The beard, said to have been grown whilst serving in the navy during World war 2 became a trademark of the Maesteg wrestler. Ken Davies combined professional wrestling with professional rugby playing, and it was his pursuance of a rugby career that led him to move from Welsh home town Aberavon.

In the summer of 1935 Ken was signed up by fledgling London Rugby League Club Streatham and Mitcham. Whether or not he actually played for the team seems unlikely as their first game was on 7th September, 1935, and the previous month he had joined Dewsbury. By the autumn the McTiffin family were living in Dewsbury,  Yorkshire. In August, 1938, he signed for Wakefield Trinity, and was still playing for them in 1940.

We discover the name Ken Davies on wrestling bills from 1944 onwards. Ken was a big, rugged wrestler who competed with the top heavyweights like Assirati and Armstrong.  Like so many others wrestling seemed to be part of Davies’ genetic make-up that was passed to family members as he fathered another Welsh Heavyweight, Gwyn Davies. Occasionally Ken  donned a mask and  wrestled as The Legionnaire. 

Fans have often mistakenly confused this Ken wlth Killer Ken Davies, the welsh welterweight. Only the names are the same.

Ken Davies died in 1978.

Killer Ken Davies (Tredegar)
In the 1960s and 1970s a bald headed, mean looking welterweight more than slightly annoyed fans in the midlands and Wales. He was Killer Ken Davies, and apart from the name there was little similarity with the heavyweight of the same name. This Killer Ken, billed from Tredegar, was a long time Welsh welterweight champion and a 1962 win over Cheshire’s Ken Else grabbed for him the independent promoters British welterweight crown. He was introduced to wrestling whilst working down the coal mines where he met another Welsh wrestler, John Paul. It was the beginning of a successful career in which he gained the respect of colleagues and is still spoken of as a hard man to beat. It is one of wrestling's mysteries why Killer Ken worked only for the opposition promoters and was never attracted to  Joint Promotions. Maybe someone out there can tell us.

Ron Davies
The muscular young middleweight from Rotherham  started out around 1959 and was around the rings quite a bit until the late sixties. Opponents included Leon Fortuna, Linde Caulder, Jon Cortez, Jim Breaks and both of the St Clair boys.

Roy Bull Davis
The balding ruffian Roy Bull Davis sneered and snarled at the fans, who did him the compliment of enthusiastically booing and jeering him. Davis was a beefy, rugged type, with the  remnants of what was presumably once  a fine head of hair. Although his  physique was not the sort associated with a fine athlete he was a far cry from the super heavyweights that later brought wrestling into disrepute.   

After serving in the merchant navy, where he learned the rudiments of the wrestling ring, and with a background of fairground booths  taking on all comers these were the skills that Plymouth’s Roy Bull Davis brought to the wrestling business. This was an entry route to the sport that contrasted with the amateur background of most professionals, but lack of those credentials did him no harm at all.  Entry into the professional ranks came thanks to the ex wrestler and referee Dick the Dormouse, who promoted at Plymouth. When Dick and his wife moved to Manchester, promoting and refereeing at Belle Vue, Bull Davis was given the chance to share his ring style with appreciative northern fans.

He was a wrestler who  combined wrestling knowledge learned in the business with the cunning and skill of the experienced street fighter. Not to forget a great character, that made him a popular figure on any wrestling bill. Skilful technician, no, value for money crowd pleasing villain most definitely.

Eric Day
Busy Mancunian post war heavyweight in the north of England who wrestled the likes of Norman Walsh, Jim Hussey, Chic Knight, The Ghoul and Bill McDonald and disappeared from the circuit around 1952. Wrestling Heritage member Ron Historyo has discovered that Eric was  billed as a Canadian footballer who came to Britain to play rugby league.  Eric's nephew has informed  us that Eric was born in Manchester, England, and the family emigrated to Canada whilst Eric was a child. The family name was Doubleday but on  returning to England in the late 1930s Eric was known as  Eric Day. 

Ron Historyo unearthed a report from Tayside, Scotland of one of Eric's matches in March, 1949, “Ernest Baldwin and Eric Day figured in the best bout of the evening.  It went the full six rounds before ending in draw at one fall each.” Posters  proclaimed “A 23 year old Canadian Football star,” and also capitalised on his growing reputation on the rugby field. He made his debut for Salford Rugby Club in 1939, and returned to the club following the end of the war.  On 23rd August 1949, Eric Day was signed up by  Bradford Northern for a record fee.  Eric's rugby career is believed to be unique as he played four different codes of football – rugby league, rugby union, Canadian football and American football.  In the early 1950s  Bradford were a cracking team, with a record crowd of 70,000 in 1953. Eric disappeared from our wrestling rings in 1952. We have now learned that in this year Eric sailed  for New York, then found his way to Canada. Eric Day died in Canada

Peter Deakin
Nottingham's Peter Deakin followed a route not dissimilar to that of Spencer Churchill, Earl Maynard and John Lees into professional wrestling, being a body builder of international repute. Well, not didsimilar except the latter three did not own a chip shop in Nottingham.

In 1956 and 1957 he was placed 4th in the Mr Britain competition, 5th in 1958. In 1956 he came 4th in the amateur Mr Universe competition, the year that John Lees was runner-up. In 1957 independent promoters gave him the opportunity to show his skills in  the pro wrestling ring, surprisingly being billed as Wonder Boy rather than the name by which he was nationally known.  

By the end of 1958 he had been signed up by Joint Promotions and was immediately pitched in with the top names of the day, and holding his own with them. He stepped up a gear in 1959 when he took part in the Royal Albert Hall heavyweight tournament and television exposure came in April, 1960, in a bout with Welsh heavyweight Gwyn Davies. In November, 1961 tragedy struck Peter when a ring injury resulted in a damaged knee and a premature end to a promising career.

Peter Deakin died in  May,  2012.

Page reviewed: 19/5/2019