British wrestling history 

D: Deep River - Delmar

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Deep River
It's all about the memories, as we constantly remind our Wrestling Heritage readers. For those of us that saw him there are fond memories of  Deep River, a wrestler that might otherwise be forgotten.  

Gian Chand was a colourful character who we remember seeing in the summer of 1969 whilst working for Wryton Promotions, though he had been working for the independent promoters in the midlands for a few years before then.  One year earlier, in February 1968, we found him wrestling on an independent show at Walsall Town Hall against Birmingham's Frank Taplin in a match billed as a "Black v White Contest," a hard to believe and unforgiveable description of a match at the time  the Beatles were riding high in the charts and the Americans and Russians were reaching for the Moon.  

Gian Chand wasn't the name on the posters. He was known as Deep River and  worked for the independent and Joint Promotions from the 1960s until the 1980s, the move from the independents to Joint Promotions coming in April, 1969 under the guidance of Martin Conroy, whose appointment to the Wryton Promotions board heralded quite a few talented performers from the independent circuit.

Deep River's opponents included some of the top lightweights, Johnny Saint, Jim Breaks and Zoltan Boscik amongst them, and we remember a cracking bout with Boscik in Southport during the summer of 1971. Deep River was an all action wrestler with a rather nifty drop kick speciality. 

Despite the occasional win over the big names, and frequent victories over others, Deep River was never given the ."big push" by the promoters. Still working for Joint Promotions in 1976 he was  back with the independents by 1978. 

We find him for the last time in November, 1983, losing to World champion Johnny Saint in Birmingham. There may have been a few more matches following that, but retirement came soon afterwards.  

Gian Chand went on to become licensee of a public house, The Black Eagle, in the Hockley area of Birmingham. 

Gian Chad died in 1990, survived by his wife and three children.

Marquis Pablo DeGardiazabal
The heavyweight champion of Spain, according to the promoters, made a few appearances in British rings in 1937, making his debut at Belle Vue, Manchester, with a credible win over Bulldog Bill Garnon. A report of a match in which he defeated Francis St Clair Gregory described him as a magnificent specimen who stood well over six feet with enormous strength.  His British debut was preceded with publicity in the Daily Mirror,  which was surprising as the national press were shunning professional wrestling by this time. The newspaper said that DeGardiazabal was born in Chile before moving to Spain where he became national champion.

Lucien DeGroote 
1959 heavyweight visitor who met the big  named UK heavyweights such as Dennis Mitchell, Tibor Szakacs and Billy Joyce

Gerry DeJager
He looked in trouble, but then delivered the kind of magic that was not an illusion. Without warning, and seemingly from any direction barefooted South African heavyweight Gerry de Jager would execute  a perfectly placed  drop-kick or flying  head scissors.

Although a master of all the holds for Gerry the drop-kick was his jewel in the crown, delivered with a speed that meant it was always a surprise weapon used to devastating effect. 

He was a big, powerful man and his speciality combined that power with a natural agility and speed that belied his stature.   The popular 1960s heavyweight was said to have the fastest knock-out win on record, just twelve seconds. 

Born in the Orange Free State, South Africa Gerry worked on his father's farm as a youngster, building up the strength and physique that was to prove invaluable in his chosen career. Gerry took up amateur wrestling in 1945, turned professional in 1948 and came to Britain in 1951. 

For the best part  of the next twenty years he travelled extensively around the world but always returned to Britain where he was welcomed back by fans.  

Mike Delaney
“The Irish Terror” with little regard to the rules had a career spanning twenty years from the mid 1930s until the mid 1950s.  Following retirement he followed the well trodden path to  referee

Roger Delaporte
Visitors from across the English Channel were common throughout the twentieth century. Roger Delaporte was a first class villainous French wrestler who came our way for a month in the spring of 1958.  

Roger travelled extensively during his visit, even venturing across the sea to Northern Ireland to go down to Dennis Mitchell. 

Opponents were of the highest calibre: Mitchell, Dazzler Joe Cornelius, Mike Marino,  Tibor Szakacs amongst them.

Two years later Roger Delaported  was to become one of the top promoters in France, a position he was to hold for a quarter of a century. He could still be seen in the ring on occasions, officiating as referee.

When not wrestling Roger  appeared in a number of French films, authored numerous books and was a restaurateur. 

Roger Delaporte died in 2009, aged 81.  

Tiger DeLisle
French wrestler Tiger Tim DeLisle was born in Marseilles  on 7th May, 1905, but moved to Montreal in Canada  when he was just six years old. He took up amateur wrestling aged seventeen and seven years later turned professional, having been taught the professional style by Eugene Tremblay, one of the world's top lightweights at the time.   Our earliest record of the Tiger in Britain is in March, 1933, and from then on he seems to be a permanent fixture until shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.  One of the lighter men Tiger had some cracking bouts in Britain against Harold Angus and Mike Howley. Enjoyed and respected by the fans his rough style, sometimes outside the rules, did little to endear him to the British public. From the autumn of 1939 and throughout the Second World War DeLisle wrestled in Canada. He returned to Britain following the second world war in 1948 and 1949, with our last recorded match in Canada in 1955.

Wally Delmar
Wally was a one-eyed exiled Channel Islander who lived near Strangeways Prison in Manchester. Five and half feet tall (he said) and a typical bantam cock of a lightweight bristling with ideas and ambition. He trained at the Balck Panther gym and wrestled just about everyone under fourteen stone: Ian St John, Johnny Clancy, Tiger Delmonte, Ali Gil, Shem Singh, Mark Wayne, Mad Dog Wilson, Eddie Rose, Cyril Knowles, Jack Dempsey, Gustav LeBrun and Johnny Saint in a tag bout.
Wally worked on Matt Moran's fairground wrestling booth for years and could handle himself in a tight spot against any one. His unfulfilled ambition was to get in the ring with Mick McManus. He did once jump the ring on Jackie Pallo and they had a ten second dust-up before being separated by the referee and seconds.
Wally had lost the sight of his left eye and being driven by him to wrestling shows always filled the lads with trepidation as he was forever turning round to engage the back seat passengers in conversation. No real worries he was a lorry driver by profession. After training he loved nothing better than a couple of pints of Tetley bitter and a good old yarn about past bouts.

Page reviewed: 29/09/2019

23/06/2019: Addition of Marquis Pablo DeGardiazabal