Teenage welterweight of the late 1950s, said to have a judo background, billed from Italy, and likened to a young Eddie Capelli. Reality wasn’t quite as exotic as the young Count was actually named Brian from Heanor in Derbyshire and another protege of Jack Taylor.
John Elijah (Also known as John Elisha)
One Biblical name wasn’t enough for the 17 stone Bearman from Walthamstow, who was known as both John Elijah and John Elisha. Big John turned professional in 1970, beating Bob Kirkwood at Folkestone, following an amateur career at the Sparta Wrestling Club, Shoreditch.
He shared wrestling with a job in the carpet trade, which he moved on to after working in the advertising business, and one forum wag famously commented that he looked like he had a roll of lino under each arm as he approached the ring.
His style, relying on power holds, failed to excite fans, but he certainly had a niche as one of those valuable supporting wrestlers who were the foundation of the business. During a long and busy career he earned respect from promoters as a reliable and dependable wrestler, and genuine affection from fans around the country.
Career highlights were challenging Bruno Elrington in Bognor Regis for the southern Area championship and wrestling Big Daddy in a clean almost technical bout on television. That year he wrestled Big Daddy many, many times.
Chick Elliott (Leicester)
For twenty years the Leicester heavyweight known as Chick Elliott (he was Christened George) was a mainstay of Northern rings tackling everyone who was anyone. For the first five years after the war it seemed that not a week would pass by without Chic appearing on the big bills at Belle Vue Manchester, Liverpool Stadium and Blackpool Tower. His contests, of course, were not limited to these major venues but he rarely ventured too far south! Chick's career came to a premature end when years of taking the bumps forced him into retirement with back problems.
But there's more. The Newcastle Journal and North Mail of 6th October, 1943, stated that he had previously appeared at the hall as "The Black Mask."
Chick Elliott (Rotherham)
We have a second Chick Elliott for you.
Our second Chick Elliott was a Yorkshire lad, billed from Ilkeston but billed from Rotherham (maybe promoters thought it sounded grander). He was trained by wrestler/promoter Jack Taylor in his Derbyshire gym in the mid 1950s alongside Al Tarzo, Roy LaRue and Spike O'Reilly.
A recurring back injury forced Chick into retirement from wrestling after only around eight years in the business. We have been told he got married and took up pub management in Leicester. One of the first things he did was to go out and buy a pair of Boxing gloves to hang behind the bar
Big Bruno Elrington
Bruno Elrington might well have been a big package, but it was a package that packed in all the necessary ingredients to be a top rated wrestler. We don’t recall any fan being critical of Bruno Elrington. Whilst some loved to jeer him as a rule bender others loved him because he could, and did, wrestle. His height and weight, around 20 stones, caused an interest, but so did his speed and agility that was surprising for a man of his size. His strength and power moves were admired by many, but so was his wrestling skill. Bruno had an enormous ring presence and he made a fearsome site as he climbed into the ring. But fans always realised that here was a generous, warm hearted man, and had a special affection for him even in his most villainous of days. Bruno entered the professional ring following six years service in the Royal Marines. Mind you, he could have been lost to the world of boxing, having four fights as a pro boxer before turning his sights to wrestling. Bruno was at his notorious best when he turned professional for Paul Lincoln Management. He mellowed later in his career and was rewarded with winning the Royal Albert Hall Trophy in 1969, and succeeding Al Hayes as Southern England Champion.
Another farmer from agricultural stock, having learnt the ropes on his father's farm. Tony Elsden was a popular welterweight who debuted around 1964. Born in North allerton from farming stock he learned his trade at the St Lukes wrestling club in Middlesbrough alongside Ian Gilmour. The St Lukes Mat Men put on charity shows and this enabled Tony to get a couple of hundred bouts under his belt before turning professional. He was a skilful welterweight who worked regularly for Joint Promotions. Future success seemed limited by his bouts restricted to the local North East and Yorkshire. After half a dozen years of promise he seemed to abruptly disappear around 1970.
Ken Else (Also known as Kennet Earlsa, Kangaroo Kid)
Another of those wrestlers who really knew the business but never made it to the big time. In Ken’s case this might have been because he spent so much of his career tearing around the world, with Australia being a favourite haunt of his. Indeed Stockport’s Ken spent much of his professional life living in Australia, where he not only wrestled but also promoted and trained youngsters. Seeing him in the ring fans were of no doubt that here was a man with considerable skill. He was one of those wrestlers that didn’t actually break the rules but was never a true blue eye. Promoters occasionally added an international hue to his Cheshire credentials by re-arranging the letters and introducing the Austrian Kennet Earlsa. At times Ken could be seen in the role of manager of Hans Streiger, a friend since their schooldays. Ken's professional career began in 1954, making his debut against Hanley's John Hall after being trained by Charlie Glover and working on Micky Kylie's fairground booth. His interest in wrestling had been sparked as a boy when he watched the wrestling at the Ardwick Stadium and Belle Vue in Manchester, Jack Pye was a favourite.
For more than ten years Ken was a part time wrestler, driving lorries when not in the ring. He emigrated to Australia in 1966, returning to Britain temporarily in 1968 and permanently in 2010.
We have just a handful of matches for independent promoters in 1957 and 1958 for this masked man. Catching our attention was that one of his opponents was Bobby Palmer, who went on to become a very successful referee and MC for Dale martin Promotions. Heritage member Main Mask added: “Not many masked Wrestlers in the lower weights were around in the 1950's! But for some Months in 1958 a masked Middleweight Clad from top to toe all in green suddenly appeared in our rings-EMERALD PHANTOM! If you were a 'purist' wrestling follower then this mystery man's skilful scientific style was right up your street! In order to perpetuate the run of this type of masked man-the promoters decided to stipulate that hooded wrestlers like this PHANTOM would only have to UNMASK if they were beaten by two straight falls!”
The Emperor (1950s)
Most memories of a masked Emperor go back no further than Big Bill Bromley donning the mask in the 1980s. A quarter of a century earlier, in 1959, a young promoter called Paul Lincoln presented a masked Emperor, reputed to weigh 20 stones (but Lincoln did tend to have a way with statistics). In true Lincoln codology the man behind the mask was said to be a successful business executive needing to hide his identity. Whatever his success elsewhere it was not to replicated in the wrestling ring and the late 1950s masked Emperor failed to make an impression.
The Emperor (1980s)
By the 1980s the days of the career masked man was long gone. Kendo Nagasaki, Count Bartelli, The Ghoul and quite a few others had entertained the fans for many years but in the 1980s the gimmick of a masked man was over-used and devalued. The Emperor was better than many, but even he failed to make a lasting impression. The man beneath the mask was a capable wrestler, Bill Bromley. Standing well over six feet tall he made an impressive sight. As always, though, it all came down to promotion, and it was short sighted management seeking a quick return that was at fault. Adrian Pollard said: “If his character had been better 'managed' he might have been more than just 'ordinary,' but he had a huge task to fill the boots of the likes of Doctor Death and The Zebra Kid! So Big Bill Bromley didn't become a career masked wrestler but was instead 'mis-used' by Promoters as Big Daddy fodder when the Sport was crying out for an injection of new life.”
See the entry for Bill Bromley
The Flying Finn who took Canadian citizenship wrestled in Britain in 1937 and 1938. This was near the beginning of a long career that reached in to the early 1960s in the United States and Canada using the name Paavo Katonen. Engblom had a reputation as a genuine shoot wrestler who could be hard to work with. He wrestled the best of 1930s lighter heavyweights, including a World Light Heavyweight Championship match with Benny Sherman at belle Vue, Manchester. In the 1950s the Finn took up promoting wrestling and boxing, and also trained many young boxers and wrestlers at his gymnasium in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ben Engblom died in January, 1999
Bobby England could be seen flying around the rings of southern
independent shows in the 1970s. Like many others Tunbridge Wells born
Bobby turned to wrestling after watching the sport at his local hall
and then joining a gymnasium, the Teen and Twenty Club, to lift
weights. At the club he met up with a group of wrestlers and accepted
their invitation to join them and learn the rudiments of
professional wrestling. From the gymnasium he graduated to working
the fairground booths, and became one of the regulars taking on
challengers for Mickey Kylie in the West Country. His professional
debut came along in August 1968, a home town promotion in Tunbridge
Wells facing the colourful sounding Sabu Perera. Bobby continued
wrestling after moving to Brighton but work commitments restricted
his appearances and led to his retirement in the late 1970s.
Tarzan John England
Long before "Mr Muscles" posed for the fans there was an earlier Johnny England in British rings, Tarzan England. His reign was brief, 1950 and 1951, leaving us to wonder whether or not he changed his identity and went on to greater things. Tarzan England. Matches were mainly in the north of England and Scotland, with opponents including Ron Jackson, Jim Hussey,Norman Walsh, Bill Verna and Ken Davies.
Johnny “Mr Muscles” England
A shooting star with high impact but vanishing as quickly as he appeared. Johnny England created a minor sensation when he first appeared on television. His arrogant nature, tendency to sneer at the fans and predisposition to punctuate bouts with displays of his physique antagonised those who had paid their hard earned cash. And they loved every minute of it. Those who knew him testified to what a nice man he was, but his wrestling personae of the mouthy big head was one he carried off to perfection. Fans did admire his wrestling skill, and an ability to outwit far more experienced opponents. His prominence seemed short lived, but he did continue in the wrestling business long after leaving Joint Promotions.