See the entry for Ernie Riley
Wolverhampton middleweight worked for the independent promoters in the 1960s and 1970s.
Bearded Canadian Rod Fenton was a skilful, fast moving exponent of the drop kick in the days when the move was sufficiently novel to excite the fans. He came to Britain in 1938, already with a few years experience in North American rings as both a wrestler and matchmaker. He was destined to become a major promoter in Arizona and Canada. In 1938 he was said to have taken part in over four hundred contests. Reports suggest that although Rod was a technically able wrestler who could wrestle as well as the next man he was not averse to turning rough (and seems to have been a bit of a villain back home in North America). Newpapers reported his match with Barnsley's Bert Mansfield was "A typical All-In contest" with Mansfield winning by two submissions to one. The description of Rod Fenton at Preston is worth a mention. “Direct from the Canadian backwoods. The most sensational wrestler to appear in Great Britain. He is the most discussed wrestler at the moment. Don’t fail to see Lumber Jack.”
Billed as German, and may have been, but his many appearances over a six year period suggests Carl Ferdinand was domiciled in Britain. He was a prolific worker around Britain between 1932 and 1938, often advertised as a heavyweight but weighing only around 13 stones. Played a supporting role to the big names though did sometimes get into the limelight fighting the likes of Jack Pye and Atholl Oakeley.
To say that Jean Ferre’s physique brought gasps from the crowd may well be an exaggeration, but his size was certainly a surprise to fans seeing him for the first time. Those of us old enough probably need little reminding and have vivid recollections of the young French heavyweight who appeared in British rings during the Spring of 1969. André Rousimoff , a Franco Bulgarian, had wrestled in his native land under the French fairy tale character’s name Geant Frerre (The Iron Giant). Joint Promotions missed the point and mangled his name into the Jean Ferre form that took him around Britain on two late sixties tours. This Iron Giant was undeniably big. Standing almost seven feet tall and weighing around twenty-two stones, his physique did nothing for his performance as a wrestler. He was simply too big and cumbersome, but his strength and size did result in considerable success, both in terms of his record and a box office attraction. He honed his skills with winning and losing streaks against Britain’s best.
Fans throughout the country were introduced to the athletic Franco Bulgarian in a televised match against pocket hercules Jim Hussey celebrated on this site in Pocketing A Giant Investment. To his credit Ferre travelled far and wide during his British visits, in contrast to many Continental visitors who limited their appearances to the south of England. Twenty four hours before he knocked out Hussey in St Albans Ferre had overcome Wild Angus, albeit by a disqualification, some 400 miles away in the Town Hall at Paisley in Scotland. The following week he travelled around the south of England (including a defeat of Big Bruno Elrington at the Royal Albert Hall), before heading north again to face Jock Cameron and John lees in Yorkshire and then southwards again to knock out Wild Angus at the Colston Hall, Bristol. A rare defeat came his way when he ran into kendo Nagasaki at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, on Saturday 7th June, and on the following morning he flew to the Isle of Man to face Ian campbell at the Villa Marina, Douglas, on the Sunday evening.
No one could accuse Jean Ferre of taking it easy.
It was the same story when Ferre returned to Britain in the autumn of the same year. Intriguingly on his second visit Ferre and the promoters seem to have moved away from the careful crafting of an invincible giant. In the Spring the nationwide exposure of knocking out Hussey, swiftly followed by the defeat of Elrington at the Royal Albert Hall, swiftly established the giant as a near invincible force. During the autumn visit that sense of invincibility began to disintegrate with a series of disqualification losses against John Lees, Roy St Clair, Mike Marino, Tibor Szakacs, Gwyn Davies and Andy Robin. Jean Ferre's final appearance in Britain was on 17th December, 1969, when he partnered Britain's own giant, Gargantua, to lose to Albert Wall and Gwyn Davies.
In the United States he later ballooned and changed his name to Andre the Giant to become one of the World’s greatest, until his untimely death in 1993.
See the entry for Jackie Harris
True skill of the traditional style expected by post war fans. Here was a wrestler whose reputation was dependent on his ability rather than flashy gimmicks. Harry Fields was the younger brother of George Broadfield, the Farmer. Harry turned professional just after the war, aged sixteen years old. He was something of an overnight sensation at a time when rings were dominated by older, heavier men, many returning to the ring after a wartime break. This early success allowed Harry to travel early in his career, and he worked in Mexico in 1948, quite an achievement at the time. Harry's wrestling skill and youthful appearance made him a popular figure in the 1950s, and he was to maintain that popularity throughout his career. Wrestling was to always remain a part time occupation for Harry; farming remained his first love. His farm near Dewsbury restricted his wrestling commitments to the north of England, but didn't prevent Harry gaining national championship recognition no fewer than thee times. Harry was the second holder of the Lord Mountevans British Middleweight championship for a short time in 1952, taking the belt again in 1956, and for a third time in 1958,losing it to Alan Colbeck in 1961. Not bad for a man who said he was a farmer. Obviously a champion in his field.
on to the British wrestling scene in 1936, a burly sixteen stone
heavyweight who stood 6’3” tall. We would like to learn more
about this wrestler who met some class opposition, and apparently
troubled them all. Although little is known about him he was no third
rater and regularly topped bills against opponents that included Dave
Armstrong, Douglas Clark, Bert Mansfield, and an unsuccessful bid for
the European Championship against Max Krauser at Chesterfield in
August, 1937. His origins remain clouded in mystery billed from
Brixton, Grimsby, USA, Australia and New Zealand, heavyweight
Champion no less! Last sighted in August, 1939.
Known as a Canadian (because that's where he lived) Bob Fife was born in Scotland. His birth name was Archie Smith, born in Leven, a seaside town in Fife in the east Central Lowlands of Scotland, on 29th June, 1900. When he was thirteen years old Bob's family emigrated to Canada, settling in Ontario. He enlisted in the Army during the First World War and it was around this time that he became interested in wrestling. On leaving the army Archie gained work with Canadian railways and joined a local amateur wrestling club in Hamilton. It was here that he befriended another Brit who had also moved to Canada, Alfred Hodgson. In 1927 Archie Smith turned professional, choosing to adopt the name of Bob Fife, in reference to his home county in Scotland. At the beginning of 1933 Bob and his friend, now wrestling professionally as Jack Wentworth, made the decision to travel to Britain, where professional wrestling was booming. Unable to afford the tickets the two men arranged to work their passage to Southampton. Harold Angus, Jack Dale,George Gregory and Jack Atherton all went down to Bob on occasions. He was to remain a stalwart of the British scene, wrestling throughout the country, until the outbreaks of World War 2. Bob returned to Canada where he continued his wrestling career as a referee.
Adrian Finch was one of a multitude of young wrestlers to make his debut in the late 1970s, and continued wrestling well beyond the Heritage years. Was a frequent worker during the 1980s, partially due to an availabilty to appear as a last minute substitute. Was chosen as the opponent for Danny Collins when Danny made his professional debut.
See the entry for El Medico
1980s wrestler and brother of Adrian Finch.
Dave Fit Finlay
He was called the Belfast Bruiser and his wrestling style showed why. Dave Finlay was one of a handful of a new, aggressive breed of British wrestlers of the 1980s who could have propelled British wrestling successfully into the twenty-first century had the promotional infrastructure remained in place, Dave was trained by his father, a former wrestler, and ventured across the Irish Sea to pursue his career in Britain in 1978, already having wrestled professionally in his native Northern Ireland . Finlay was a quick learner and was soon trading blows with the best of them. He established himself as a television favourite and was able to rank himself alongside Marty Jones and Rollerball Mark Rocco as one of the powerhouses of British wrestling. A win over Alan Kilby allowed him his first championship belt when he took the British Heavy middleweight title in June, 1982. It was to be the first of a series of British championship successes at four weights, including heavyweight; though his talent and charisma made title recognition unnecessary. The promotional infrastructure began to crumble in the 1980s, and with many wrestlers feeling insufficiently rewarded they found greater appreciation amongst the independent promoters. Finlay joined the trickle that became a torrent of big name wrestlers who left Joint Promotions and worked for Brian Dixon’s All Star Promotions. Greater recognition came when he formed a successful professional partnership with his wife, Paula, a former wrestler who now acted as his manager. Paula played her role to perfection and only enhanced the drawing power of the talented wrestler. With the popularity of British wrestling going into decline talent such as Dave Finlay found overseas work increasingly lucrative (although admittedly British wrestlers had always travelled extensively overseas) and he began working mostly in Germany, Austria, and Japan. Eventually the lure of life across the pond proved irresistible and Dave signed for World Championship Wrestling in 1995, and later worked for WWE.
George Finnie (George Finney)
Portsmouth's George Finnie served in the Royal Navy in the early 1930s aboard HMS Neptune, whose eventual fate was to be sunk in a minefield off the coast of Tripoli in 1941. George began wrestling professionally in 1932, mainly around Portsmouth to begin with, but by the mid 1930s was a busy worker who was travelling further afield. to northern England and Scotland. At some time, and records of his contests suggest it may have been during the war, George moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne, and during the war could be seen frequently at the New St James Hall, Newcastle. Opponents included northern heavyweights Ray St Bernard, Dave Armstrong, Tony Baer and Jack Atherton. George continued wrestling following the war, finally retiring in 1950, following which he joined the Probation Service and moved to Lincolnshire.