WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

D: Diaz - Doran

Wrestling Heritage A-Z


Memo Diaz
Middleweight brought over in the spring of 1962 to dutifully lose to a string of home grown talent, including Alan Colbeck at the Royal Albert Hall. Was rather surprisingly allowed a token victory, over Mike Donlevy, in a match recorded for television. Often said to be Mexican in Britain we have found him mostly billed from Columbia.

Dick the Dormouse
A giant of man Dick Rogers, known as Dick the Dormouse, started out running a boxing and wrestling booth around his hometown of Plymouth in the 1930s. He went on to gain greater fame as promoter (along with his wife Jessie) at Belle Vue Stadium, Manchester. During the second world war Dick served in the navy and Jessie took over as promoter at Belle Vue. Post war Dick was the resident referee at Belle Vue and sometimes wrestled. Ray Noble remembers, "One of the most memorable fights I saw at the Kings Hall Belle Vue was Saturday 12th June 1954,  Dick (The Dormouse) Rogers, Belle Vue's popular Referee V  Bill Benny. I think they were both disqualified." Another fan remembers Dick as a huge man wearing a white athletic vest and trousers.

Axel Dieter 
He was a master of the head scissors and preferred to finish his bouts with a perfectly executed suplex. The popular Berlin heavyweight made fleeting visits to the UK during the late 1950s and early 1960s, although his greatest successes were reserved for the other side of the Atlantic. Having been trained by Bela Barothy and Axel Cadier the twenty-six year old German’s  first visit to Britain came in 1959, four years after having turned professional.   Axel had learnt the business at the Heros Club in Berlin before making his professional debut. His first tournament was in Krefeld, soon to be followed by more of the German tournaments that were held on successive nights for up to four weeks. His first overseas trip was to Spain in 1958, and shortly afterwards he travelled to Britain.  During his career Axel wrestled throughout western Europe as well as South America, the Middle East, and the far east. He stood 6’2” tall and was a muscular 16 stone, and wrestled the best that Britain could offer during his short tours, which were mainly confined to the South. For more than ten years Axel based himself in Barcelona, travelling extensively throughout the wrestling world.  Axel retired from full time wrestling in 1987, continuing his interest in the sport through refereeing and promoting. Axel's son, Axel Dieter Jr., continues the family tradition in the pro wrestling rings of Germany.

Jack Dillon
Arthur Riley adopted the name Jack Dillon and was a busy Manchester heavyweight of the 1950s/60s, as well as manager of the Lonsdale Club. 

Salah al Dine
Kurdish heavyweight Salah al Dine visited Britain for just under a month in February 1968. Although he came with credentials claiming the heavyweight championship of Egypt for nine years his results in  Britain were less than impressive, straight fall losses against Tibor Szakacs, Pat Barratt, Sean Regan and Albert Wall; stopped by Ezzard Hart and Al Fontayne.

Gerry Diprose
A twelve stoner from Gravesend, Kent, Gerry Diprose was a regular worker, mostly for Dale Martin Promotions, between 1965 and 1967. Opponents included the familiar names of Linde Caulder, Reg Trood, Bobby Barnes, Peter Szakacs and Johnny Kwango. Gerry trained at veteran professional Bill Warner’s club in Gillingham alongside Alan Kitto and Tony Bates before turning professional initially for the independent promoters. Gerry Diprose died in October, 2016.

Steve DiSalvo (Also known as The Mighty Yankee)
Muscular American Steve Disalvo stood 6 feet 6 inches tall and looked the part of the "Mighty Yankee" when he visited Britain in 1981. He was an opponent  of Wayne Bridges  in the eliminators for the vacant World Heavyweight Title and lost in straight falls to Wayne at The Royal Albert Hall. Powerlock told us Steve DiSalvo wrestled in WCW as the Minotaur and WWF as Billy Jack Strong, as well as wrestling in Calgary for Stampede,  and AWA for a while.

Wally Dix
We have found matches for Camberwell's Wally Dix between 1936 and 1939. He had family connections which brought him to our attention.  Born in Camberwell, his father was a coachbuilder, he had four brothers and two sisters. One brother was wrestler Sailor Barnes whilst the younger brother was a man known to most wrestling fans between the 1930s and the 1960s, the referee Lou Marco.

Dory Dixon
The muscular Jamaican heavyweight Dory Dixon was an impressive figure during his 1968-9 tour of Britain. Fast and agile for a man of his size, more skilful than most of the American heavyweights that visited Britain he established himself as a fans favourite. Despite the impressive credentials (ex NWA light heavyweight champion, holding Buddy Rogers to a draw)  and undoubted  skill British promoters didn't allow him to have everything his own way. Dory's British  results were mixed to say the least. Amongst the wins over the usual suspects routinely sacrificed to visiting heavies, Jim Hussey, Roy Bull Davis and Leon Arras were surprising losses to Crusher Verdu and Johnny Yearsley  and not so surprising defeats by Mike Marino (in three World Mid heavyweight championship clashes), Tibor Szakacs at the Royal Albert Hall Geoff Portz and Andy Robin. Dory's physique was a result of a background in weight lifting which had led to a professional wrestling debut in 1955, with most of his experience being in Mexico and the United States before he came to Britain.

Billy Donnegan
Leeds welterweight wrestler Wilson Burgess was one of those fans that lived the dream, going from fan to magazine seller at Leeds Town Hall and then professional wrestler in the 1970s. He learned amateur wrestling at the Jack Lane Club in Leeds before learning the professional style at Ron Farrar’s gymnasium at Batley. 

Baron Donovan (Detroit Donovan, Bill Bennette)
Baron Donovan came on to the British wrestling scene at around the time we were losing interest and so we happily succumb to our members to fill in the gaps. Knowledgeable members NagasakisNumberOneFan and Graham Brooks. Donovan emerged  onto the scene in 1974, often going down to Big Daddy, including his only tv appearance, partnering Giant Haystacks in their loss to Big Daddy and Tony St Clair. Billed from the USA, this was another part of wrestling kidology. He was really from Southport where, if Graham remembers correctly, he worked as a chiropractor. Max Crabtree billed him as Baron Donovan and Graham recalls a particularly good tag bout at Belle Vue where he was teamed up with Lee Sharron against The Barons (Ian Gilmour and Jeff Kaye). We are told he was Bill Bennett (Martin Conroy of Wryton Promotions added an "e" and billed him as Bill Bennette from Canada. Graham refereed him once at Tower Beach Holiday Camp, Prestatyn, for Bobby Barron where, unusually for him, he played the blue eye against heel  Ragnor the Viking.

Jimmy Doran (Also known as Doran Mazurke)
A low key, supporting role wrestler, billed from either Leicester or Bradfor, who frequently appeared around northern England and Scotland between 1938 and 1948. Described as “A human dynamo” his legendary speed seems to have had little effect against the top lighter men as our results usually find him on the wrong end of the verdict.

Page reviewed 01/10/2019

28/04/2021 Transferred to the next page: The Doc

13/08/2019: Addition of Wally Dix

21/01/2021: Transferred to this page - Billy Donnegan, Baron Donovan, Jimmy Doran