D: DaSilva - David
For the 1960s wrestling fan New Zealand’s John DaSilva made an impressive and memorable site as he entered the ring. Those who were fortunate enough to see him in action will remember him well; here was gladiatorial elegance. Maori elegance at that, or so the promoters would have us believe.
Although a genuine New Zealander, born on 11th June, 1934, in Auckland John’s blood was a cocktail of Portuguese, Spanish and Tahitian, but Maori he was not! His mother had been born in London whilst father, Domingo, was a New Zealander who had been a champion axeman.
John Walter DaSilva took up amateur wrestling in 1953, winning the New Zealand championship in 1955. He represented New Zealand in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, going out after the second round with losses to Ivan Vykhristyuk and Hussain Noori.
Two years later he came to Britain, representing New Zealand in the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. When the Games were over John was seeking professional matches. The website www.wrestlingdata.com records John wrestling in Germany from 31st July, 1958, and we find him in British rings from September onwards
He was an immediate success in both Britain and Germany, quickly climbing the bill to main eventer. Based in Britain John was eager to travel, adding Canada to his work schedule in 1960 and the United States in 1961. A short visit home and then on to India. All of this within five years of turning professional! We can also add France, Singapore,Lebanon and Australia to the list of countries visited.
John made sure he was in Britain to top the bill against Tibor Szakacs in the presence of Prince Philip, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, at the Royal Albert Hall on 22nd May, 1963. We guess that by then he would think he’d made it!
John picked up sticks again in 1966 and headed back to New Zealand, destined to become one of their greatest heavyweight stars.
John DaSilva retired in 1977. He went on to work with disadvantaged youths and in the 1994 New Years Honours List was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for Community Service.
We have included John (sometimes Johan) Datus not because we can offer much information but because we have found quite a few matches for him between 1957 and 1964. He was billed from Nottingham as a welterweight or middleweight. All matches were for the independent promoters, throughout he country but mostly in the midlands. Roy La Rue was a frequent opponent; we suspect a connection with promoter Jack Taylor.
See the entry for Daula Singh
Dan Davey wasn't a big man, but he was powerful and very skilful which meant he wrestled big names at all weights. He lost out to fellow Irishman Pat Corrigan in 1937 at the Royal Albert Hall in a British middleweight championship contest, yet at other times grappled with the powerful Yorkshire miner Bert Mansfield, number one villain Jack Pye, giant Big Ben Buck with classy acts such as Cab Cashford and Sonny Wallis in between. Here was a man who mixed with wrestling royalty.
Dan's wrestling career spanned both sides of the Second World War, finally retiring from the ring in 1951. He was an almost permanent feature on Belle Vue bills during the post war years tackling opponents that included Tony Bear, Rex Gable, Iron Duke, Alf Rawlings, Vic Hessle, Tony Mancelli and Billy Joyce.
When not billed as an Irish champion Dan was billed as the Welsh champion! When not wrestling he played supporting roles in films. He played a stunt double for Jon Lodder in the 1937 film "King Solomons Mines" Dan served in the merchant navy for six years, fortunate enough to continue his interest in boxing and wrestling during this time. Later in life, during the 1960s, Dan was a bouncer at the Playboy Club. Not bad work if you can get it.
See the entry for Davey Boy Smith
Page revised: 23/06/2019: Addition of John Datus