Every Bout an Epic
As befits a true Shining Star, just look at the glittering career enjoyed by Steve Viedor.
The youth from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire wrestled part-time in the early sixties on independent bills in Manchester as Hermann Viedor, Kurt Viedor and Steve Bell, following his daytime gardening work and milkround, before settling on the ring name by which he became most widely known, Steve Viedor, and under which he wrestled in his Royal Albert Hall debut against Johnny Czeslaw in December 1962, and soon afterwards in his first televised bout, against Billy Howes. His very first bout for Joint Promotions had been against Masambula in Morecambe on a Rewyskow & Green programme, going down by two straight falls.
Steve Viedor soon proved his worth against leading heavyweights and memorably managed to steal the not inconsiderable show when tagging alongside Mike Marino in the 1966 Royal Albert Hall Spectacular against evil Orientals Togo Tani and Chati Yokouchi.
The following year saw Viedor selected as the opponent for Kendo Nagasaki’s debut at the same Kensington arena, above. And in 1969 he would face Jean Ferre (who later became André the Giant) in Carlisle.
With his familiar crew cut gradually giving way to the longer blond hair style of the times, Steve Viedor became a legitimate title contender. On three occasions he was the outright winner of the prestigious Royal Albert Hall Tournament trophy, but Wrestling Heritage can clarify probably for the first time that Viedor in fact enjoyed four Albert Hall Tournament successes, as in 1972 he won the the Viewsport Trophy there, defeating Tibor Szakacs in the final and being presented with his trophy by Lou Marco, right.
At national championship level he wrestled Albert Wall in a ten-round Nottingham epic for the vacant British Heavyweight Championship after Billy Robinson’s departure and was then a frequent but always unsuccessful challenger for the belt. Most memorable in his series of bouts with Wall followed the time when he rushed to the Albert Hall ring, after Rocky’s controversial bout with Billy Two Rivers, to challenge the Yorkshireman. Viedor was at last successful in their January 1974 challenge match, but again failed to have his hand raised in victory when the European belt was at stake as a result in Kensington four months later.
We can identify Steve Viedor as being absent from British rings for parts of 1972. Now domiciled in Hertfordshire, he made various television appearances in Scandinavia. But only in 1974 and 1975 did he spend any appreciable time abroad wrestling, claiming third place in the Hamburg International Tournament over an entire month with nightly matches, and wrestling with success in South Korea and Japan.
Dale Martin Promotions knew they were onto a good thing, an athletic multi purpose glamour boy, uncluttered by ambitions to travel internationally. Viedor was lured to move yet further south to Croydon and was rewarded in 1974 when he defeated Bruno Elrington to become final and undefeated the Southern England Heavyweight Champion. See our prized poster of the night, below, when two Northerners fought for the Southern Area title!
Even travel to other parts of England was now very rare. Where his sixties opponents had seemingly been the endless succession of masked men shown in the top photo banner – you can surely identify them all? - he now settled into nightly rivalries with the likes of Tibor Szakacs, Wayne Bridges, Mike Marino and Prince Kumali.
Tibor was also an occasional tag partner, but the seventies tag union we recall most vividly was when at his local Fairfield Halls, and after a series of violent encounters, Viedor astonishingly teamed up in tag with Kendo Nagasaki in what George E. Gillette called “A Strange and Unholy Alliance”, see our second rare collector's item, above right.
Even this great household name was required to feature in uncomfortable late seventies tag match activity, alongside Tibor Szakacs: Big Daddy’s unpalatable belly butt brigade had duly seen off more true talent. Viedor carried out three more quiet years of part-time wrestling before slipping away from the scene, unheralded by Max Crabtree Promotions, in 1980.
When we think of Steve Viedor we also cannot fail but to think of his most fervent fan, the Duchess Pandora Verrukalian, who pursued him with a passion throughout south London venues and on many a televised presentation.
Steve Viedor was a winner of televison’s Golden Gown award in 1966, coming off a December 1965 mauling at the hands of the Masked Outlaw: few blue eyes could have done such a sterling job in setting a new hooded assassin on his bill-toping way around the halls. Viedor had already been one of only a very few tv opponents for the great Alan Garfield.
Steve Viedor wrestled on television 127 times and we can detect certain repetitions: never could he gain victory in a number of stoushes against Rocky Wall, but he fared much better against Gwyn Davies, and seemed always to triumph over Mal Kirk and Bruno Elrington. He was selected as the opponent both for Gordon Corbett’s belated tv debut and for Judo Al Hayes’ memorable and final UK appearance in 1975. Overall, he remains the most featured heavyweight wrestler of all time in the history of televised British wrestling.
Possibly the televised appearance we remember most affectionately is Viedor’s masterclass in mauling at the hands of Gwyn Davies with the British Heavyweight Championship at stake in May 1976 at the Royal Albert Hall. Davies’ believable villainy combined magnificently with Viedor’s wronged hero to produce one of the classic bouts that even knowing fans felt was for real. Viedor’s conveniently to hand smelling salts between rounds were a delightful touch. The return bout would see Viedor as Gwyn Davies’s final opponent before the “Welshman’s” retirement.
So much for carefully contstructed factual history, but what about Steve Viedor as a wrestler? One of the main guiding principles of this site is that our memories as ardent fans count far more than whatever any record books may show.
We remember in Steve Viedor a 15st+ heavyweight who mixed it with the very best without ever being outclassed. George Kidd had many emulators in his own lighter weight divisions, but never did a wrestler so much heavier roll around so slickly and perform such classy counter moves. Cartwheels, drop-kicks, spin-outs, rolling wrist-locks and more were all in Viedor's regular repertoire.
Moreover, Steve Viedor possessed in spades that most vital of professional wrestling qualities, generosity. Seemingly far removed from any distracting issues such as victory, Viedor moulded each and every performance to make his opponent appear in the very best light, always with the fans’ ultimate enjoyment in the forefront of his decision-making. It is fair to say that Steve Viedor has featured in several of the bouts described as most believable since we started dissecting the grappling game on this site.
In short, we pay Steve Viedor the ultimate Wrestling Heritage compliment that “Every Viedor bout was an epic.”
Related article: Crowd Control of the Purest Kind in Armchair Corner at www.wrestlingheritage.com