WRESTLING HERITAGE

F: Fogg - Froehner


Wrestling Heritage A - Z


Billy Fogg
Mid heavyweight Billy Fogg, the one time baker from Warrington, initially worked for the independent promoters until he was signed up by Joint Promotions in 1961. Within a short time he was a regular fixture on the northern circuit clashing with the likes of Jack Pye, Francis St Clair Gregory, Mike Marino and Billy Howes. Nationwide exposure came in December, 1961, with a television defeat at the hands of Jack Beaumont at Bolton.

John Foley (Also known as The Katt)
Trained at Billy Riley’s Wigan gymnasium John Foley was one of the hardest and most skilful 1950s and 1960s middleweights. He came into wrestling after working  as a coal miner, making his  professional debut against Tommy Milo. Well regarded as a one of the country’s top middleweights, journalist Charles Mascall said John was one of the world's best middleweights of all time.  His greatest notoriety came in the 1960s as a member of the Black Diamonds tag team, partnering Abe Ginsberg. Distinguished with black leather helmets, which Kent Walton was forever telling us he was inundated with letters saying these should be illegal and removed, the two villains had memoroable clashes against the Stewarts, The White Eagles and the Royal Brothers.  

For a short time John Foley also wrestled in northern England and Scotland as the masked wrestler, The Katt, with the real mystery being why a wrestler of his calibre chose to have his identity concealed.  Well travelled throughout most of Western Europe later in his career he travelled to Canada and Japan, achieving further success. John’s son in law was Ted Heath, and when the two of them wrestled as a tag team in the USA in 1975/6 they called themselves “The British Bulldogs,” and carried a large stuffed bulldog (called Winston) into the ring, pre-dating another higher profile British Bulldogs team by quite a few years.

Al Fontayne
A  light heavyweight, known as the “Jewish whirlwind,” whose rugged style was never going to make him a fan's favourite. Bethnal Green's Al Fontayne gained his early experience in the rings of Paul Lincoln and the independent promoters. 

Trained by veteran Al Lipman, Fontayne turned professional in 1958, following a stint in the RAF and boxing as an amateur. Al worked extensively in southern England, Austria and Germany before being signed up by Joint Promotions in the mid 1960s.

Those early Continental bouts included matches against far more experience wrestlers such as Rene Lasartesse, Leif Rasmussen, Felix Gregor and George Blemenshultz.

He was equally at home in rings against the smaller acrobatic antics of Johnny Kwango or the rugged heavyweight slugger Johnny Yearsley. Frequent encounters were made with Bob Kirkwood in the early days and later for Dale Martin Promotions. His 1966 ko by Ricky Starr in Leeds was the talk of the town for years afterwards. 

He was a regular mid carder in Joint Promotion rings before disappearing from our rings around the middle of 1969.  

Tony Ford 
Our only knowledge of this Bradford heavyweight is a television match against Ezzard Hart at Bermndsey Baths on 15th January, 1966. 

Leon Fortuna (Also known as Young Sullivan)
It always seemed appropriate that welterweight Leon Fortuna, who appeared to have a permanent smile, came from the Pacific Island of Tonga in the Friendly Isles.

Born in Tonga, he moved to South Africa as a a child and later, in 1951  the eight year old first stepped foot in the UK. In 1960, following a short amateur career, he turned professional for Paul Lincoln, but within weeks was signed up by Dale Martin Promotions. 

His original ring name of Young Sullivan disguised an even more unusual real name.

His fast, skilful style was hugely popular with fans in the South, where he mainly wrestled, and it wasn’t long before he became a nationwide favourite through the miracle of television.  

In 1970 he formed one half of The Sepia Set tag-team which foundered with partner Linde Caulder’s departure two years later.

Roy Fortuna
Manchester was a hotbed of young wrestling talent in the late 1960s. Whilst Al Marquette, Johnny Saint, Pete Lindbergh, Bob Francini and Eddie Rose had already begun to make their mark a younger generation was snapping at their heels. Amongst these was a schoolboy, or at least very recent schoolboy, going by the name Roy Fortuna. The older guard listed above each had a hand in helping the youngster develop  from the time we first took an interest in his career which was in 1969. We watched him grow in confidence and skill for the following seven or eight years but then Roy Fortuna disappeared from our horizon as quickly as he had arrived. Eddie Rose enlightens us that Roy went on to become a major figure in the trade union movement.

Eddie Fox
A popular wrestler for the independent promoters in the 1960s and 1970s Middlesbrough's Eddie Fox was well known in the North East during the 1960s, working regularly for  Don Robinson, Cyril Knowles,  and Allen  & Taylor. Eddie learnes to wrestle at the St Lukes  Wrestling Club in Middlesborough which also introduced  Ian Gilmour, Tony Elsdon, Ray Leslie and Les Prest to the world of professional wrestling.He passed away  on December 26th, 2008.

Jim Foy (Also known as Emile Foy, Elmo the Mighty)
One of those tough men in the ring and a gentle giant outside the ropes, that was Elmo the Mighty, otherwise known by his real name of Jim Foy. Born in 1904, Jim was one of the great characters of professional wrestling for close on twenty years, from the mid 1940s until his retirement in 1963. Born in Bolton he was brought up in the hard tradition of Lancashire style wrestling and was Lancashire Heavyweight Champion before he turned professional. During his career Jim travelled throughout the country and wrestled all the greats like Black Butcher Johnson, Jack Pye, and Bill Benny. Jim Foy died in 2000.  He was undoubtedly one of the hardest men in wrestling and we have it on good authority that a young Billy Robinson considered Jim the hardest man he knew and complained that he was unable to throw the Bolton man. Now, if Billy would just like to get in touch to confirm this!

Bob Francini  (Also known as Jack La Rue, Red Mask, Red Marvel, Red Devil)
Bob Francini (Jack La Rue)

Barry Allwood was born in Stockport in 1936. He was a charismatic wrestler who initially used the name Jack LaRue but gained wider acclaim as Bob Francini. His wife’s maiden name was France, so that could well have been the inspiration for the change of name. A tough nut who looked the part he trained at Hollywood Amateur Wrestling Club in Stockport. Amongst those he encouraged and helped to develop at the club was Ian Wilson, who also went on to a long and successful career. Having a thorough grounding with the independent promoters, using the name Jack LaRue, he was snapped up by Joint Promotions, with a decade of regular bookings from Jack Atherton and Wryton Promotions. His all action style didn’t always endear him to fans but Francini’s bouts were never short of drama or emotion. He was a regular opponents of all the big names in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, but rarely a winner, and lacked television exposure. Occasionally he wrestled as the Red Mask and the Red Marvel, beaten and unmasked by the Black Mask at Malvern in 1972.


Ezzra "Sugar Ray" Francis (Also known as Sugar Ray Dodo, The Zulu, The Witchdoctor)
Should a book of wrestling's greatest characters be written Ezra Francis is sure to be in there, whatever the criteria. Stories of the man abound whenever the wrestling fraternity gathers together. Eddie Rose told Wrestling Heritage:

"Ezzie was a favourite to work with and to socialise with, too. Top man and what a sense of humour, mind you, we needed it because we were both Manchester City fans! I had some of my most memorable bouts with him. He was fun to be with and had a wide variety of moves to suit every occasion. He took on all shapes and sizes from Jackie Pallo to Klondykes and always gave full value to the audiences."

The fans loved Ezra, whether he was billed that night as The Zulu, Sugar Ray Francis, Sugar Ray Dodo or The Witchdoctor. 

The grass skirt, spear and facial paint meant that Ezra was on the bill. This welterweight was a hugely popular and regular performer on the independent circuit throughout the 1960s. Whilst not reaching the popularity of Masambula (who did have the advantage of tv exposure) Ezra was no insubstantial copy of the African. When the lights were down and he entered the hall the excitement amongst the crowd was very real. A slow walk into the ring, followed by a bit of voodoo nonsense directed at an opponent and then he would get down to the serious business of wrestling, at which he was very good. 

Not to be confused with another Zulu, Harry Bison of the Isle of Man, who was heavier and taller than the original.

Len Franklin
Standing six feet tall and weighing around 14 stones Len Franklin was known as the Elstree Adonis and was part of the All-In  wrestling scene from the outset. We first come across Len on 9th February, 1931 when he wrestled Yugoslav George Modrich at Belle Vue, Manchester, in a wrestling bout on a boxing show. 

From a seemingly lacklustre start to his professional career in 1931 Len began to sparkle the following year with impressive wins over Sam Rabin, Jack Pye, Barney O'Brien, Stan Roberts and George Gregory. Atholl Oakeley listed him an equal to Bert Assirati, Douglas Clark and Barney O'Brien. 

He was certainly good enough to challenge Atholl Oakeley for the British heavyweight championship, having won through a series of eliminating contests. He was deemed unfortunate to have lost to Oakeley after sustaining a knee injury in the third round of their contest at  the New Victoria Halls, Nottingham, on 29th August 1932. A return contest, on 25th September, 1932, again resulted in a victory for Oakeley, but Len reportedly “gave the champion one of his hardest fights of the year.”   

Although Len's scientific knowledge of wrestling was surpassed by few, if any, as shown in matches against Sam Rabin and Jim Wango, we wouldn't rate him alongside those greats because his record was far more patchy and his career short; we have no records beyond 1934. That's a short record by anyone's standards. 

Tony Fraser
Huddersfield based Scots wrestler from Motherwell billed as Bantamweight Champion of Scotland in 1936. Moved up to lightweight and claimed the Scottish lightweight championship. Had some cracking matches against former Olympian Joe Reid. We have found active years 1935 to 1938.

Glen Frazer
Stockton's Brian Eeles was one of the multitude of Teesiders who worked for independent promoters in the 1970s. A giant of a man, standing well over six feet tall and tipping the scales at 19 stones he used  the ring name of Glen Frazer. Glen trained at Alex McDonald's  gymnasium, the Alexandra Wrestling Club in Cannon Street, Middlesbrough. Glen worked mostly in the North East of England alongside the likes of Les Prest, Pete Ross, and Jimmy Devlin. He died suddenly on November 15th, 2015, aged 75 years. His wife, Margaret, died eight days later.

Dave Freeman
Dave Freeman trained at the Chelmsford Amateur Wrestling Club and worked for Dale Martin Promotions in the 1970s. He made a couple of television appearances in 1975, losing by the odd fall to bothe Johnny Kwango and Catweazle.

George French   
Known as “Little Hack” in his native Australia George was a 12 stone wrestler of considerable strength and skill, shown in matches with Dick Wills, Billy Riley, Rashid Anwar and Harold Angus. George visited Britain from 1936 – 7, billed as the welterweight champion of is country. Eddie Capelli said it was a contest at Blackfriars between Harold and George French that had inspired him to take up wrestling. A match against Cliff Warner was reported as the best of the evening, full of splendid locks and holds.

Heinrich Froehner
A powerful heavyweight who weighed over 16 stone German champion Heinrich Froehner wrestled fairly regularly in Britain between 1932 and 1937, twice holding the European heavyweight championship, by defeating and losing it again to Atholl Oakeley and Karl Pojello. 

Froehner decisively defeated British heavyweight champion Atholl Oakeley, the Nottingham Evening Post reporting, “The German was the more accomplished wrestler, and this with his prodigious strength, was responsible for Oakeley’s first defeat in the local ring.”

In February, 1933, Pojello beat  Froehner at Nottingham in the sixth round to win the European Heavyweight Championship. Froehner had taken the title from Oakeley some six weeks earlier.

 Froehner met and defeated  most of the big names in European wrestling  apart from Oakeley and Pojello.