WRESTLING HERITAGE

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B: Dave Bond

Dave Bond

The Soul of Wrestling

Dave Bond was precisely the sort of wrestler we like to glorify on this site, a man who gave everything and provided the perfect supporting role to all kinds of opponents. From the moment he erupted  onto the British wrestling scene in the mid 1970s  Dave Bond was always an  imposing figure who grappled and grunted his way to the not infrequent disqualification.

He was born Frank Horace Wallen in Woolwich on 27th June 1954 and went on to become  Dave "The Lion" Bond, the harder edged Butcher Bond and Soulman Bond with his arrogant swagger.  Whatever the persona here was a man who knew how to rile a crowd. He did his job well. With a wide range of sporting interests that included judo, rugby, football and cricket it was learning to wrestle as an amateur at the United Amateur Wrestling Club in Stockwell, that was to give a new direction to his life.

Preparation for the professional ring came courtesy of Dale Martin Promotions at their Brixton gymnasium and we find him wrestling in the south of England by 1975. Outside of the ring Frank Wallen had a good job in the civil service, hence the choice of a new ring name, though admittedly Dave Bond did have more of a ring to it than the one bestowed on him at birth.

His rugged features made him an inevitable villain, and he played the role to perfection. From the outset he was a regular inclusion on Dale Martin shows against the likes of Johnny Yearsley, Ian Muir and John Elijah. Wrestling enthusiast Tony Heath has fond memories: "Banana yellow or sky blue ring attire and a solid muscular frame; extremely upright posture and large but not heavily defined biceps; never intimidated by opposition never afraid to mix it and really fierce on attack; his partnership with Johnny Kincaid encouraged him to attack harder with more ferocious intent. Butcher never relied on trademark signature holds or techniques but was vicious with choke holds, jabs and chops; and for a big man was a deceptively fast mover. He was totally athletic' clean and professional, and was always worth the admission to any billing on his own."

Whilst he was naturally a villain there were exceptions.  We do remember Dave wrestling within the rules, even, on occasions, being introduced as Butcher Bond only to wrestle clean. Whatever the style adopted he was always good value for money. Dale Martin promoters obviously liked him too because within a very short time he was working for them most nights of the week against big names that included Count Bartelli, Mike Marino, Pat Roach and Giant Haystacks.

In January, 1976, less than two years after turning professional, Dave came to the attention of fans nationwide when Dale Martin Promotions matched him with Johnny Czeslaw in a televised contest at Gravesend. It wasn't long before Dave was back on the small screen with further appearances against Ivan Penzecoff, Steve Logan, and Mike Marino.

Then the fur really began to fly! In September 1977 Dave Bond had formed a tag partnership with Johnny Kincaid. Partnerships with Johnny Kwango and Clive Myers had made little impact, but this time it would be different. They called themselves The Caribbean Sunshine Boys, a name coined by Mike Marino,  and the pairing with Dave Bond gave Kincaid the opportunity to establish himself as a villain. In October, 1977 television viewers for the first time witnessed  the Caribbean Sunshine Boys. The pair had already made their mark at the Royal Albert Hall against Roy St Clair and Johnny Wilson.  Neither Dave Bond nor Johnny Kincaid had ever scored a victory in their  solo televised appearances. The heat generated from this match was enough to ensure they didn’t  appear in tag on television ever again, but they certainly did around the halls and, in their eleven months together, they caused controversy all around the land.

It was in partnership with Kincaid, who was to become his lifelong friend, that Dave Bond was at his most notorious.  The Caribbean Sunshine became one of the most emotive and hated tag teams in British wrestling.  So much so that with ringside violence occurring at some of their matches the decision was made to disband the team within a year. It may have been a short lived partnership but was to become one of the most talked about tag teams that made an indelible mark in the memories of all who saw them.

The friendship of the pair was more enduring; they remained friends until Dave's untimely death. Although already a regular worker it was the Caribbean Sunshine Boys period that really established Dave Bond as a much in demand worker overseas as well as in the UK. Not that the results came his way other than rarely. But this was professional wrestling where success and winning do not necessarily go hand in hand. Dave's skill was to make others look good and entertain the fans, precisely the sort of wrestler we like to glorify as we stated in the opening sentence. One notable exception to the pattern, though, was amongst Dave's thirty or so televised contests when he surprisingly gained a verdict over Count Bartelli. He made his last television appearance in July 1988, a few weeks before wrestling disappeared from British screens.

Dave Bond remained a prominent figure in British wrestling until the mid 1990s. Following retirement his interest in sport did not wane. He took to training youngsters to wrestle and maintained an active interest in rugby. He was club steward and premises manager of the Footscray Rugby and Social Club  up to the time of his death.

The wrestling fraternity was shocked when Dave Bond suffered a heart attack and died suddenly on 4th January, 2012.

Page added 03/01/2020