WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

F:  Grant Foderingham

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Grant Foderingham 

(The Black Panther, John Grant)

In a sport that produced larger than life characters the north of England seemed to produce more than it’s fair share. Enter Grant Foderingham, the West Indian Manchester domiciled wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s. Foderingham, known as The Black Panther, was a regular feature of  Joint Promotions bills, especially in the north and midlands, during the 1950s, opposing men of the stature of Billy Joyce,  Jack Beaumont, Geoff Portz and Johnny Allan.  Overlooked by promoters when it came to television bookings Foderingham left Joint Promotions in 1959. Usually billed as Grant Foderingham or Black Panther he was also known as John Grant. He spent the remainder of his career, which extended into the early 1970s, training a multitude of talented newcomers at his Manchester gym as well as  wrestling and promoting on the independent circuit.

PANTHERS GYM by Eddie Rose
Panther's Gym, Crossley House Youth Club, Ashton Old Road, Openshaw, Manchester.

The gym was in the basement and run by Grant Foderingham, the Black Panther. Grant was a Barbadian who worked for Direct Works Department, Manchester Corporation as a joiner. He had enjoyed a very successful career as a heavyweight during the years 1945 - 1965 -ish after a war time career in the RAF. Grant also traded as Unique Promotions of Manchester.

Married to Marilla with a daughter, Annette and lived in Levenshulme, Manchester.

Johnny Saint, Johnny South, Paul Mitchell, Dave Grant, Micky Coen, Brendan Moriaty, Monty Britton, Mark Wayne, Billy Graham, Hill Billy Bert Ellam, Alec Burton, Big Bill Blake, Llew Roberts, Tony Barrie, Mike 'Flash' Jordan, Pete Lindberg, Sugar Ray Francis aka The Zulu, Boston Blackie, Ian Mad Dog Wilson, Jumping JIm Moser, Ken Else, Kevin Cawley, Roy Fortuna, Roy Scott, Alf Margates aka Marquette, Ricky and Norman Mendez, Johnny Clancy, Steve Allan, Chunky Hayes, Pat Curry, George Carpentier, Tiger Delmonte and some who's names escape me (apologies).

The famous & not so famous, the good the bad and definitely the ugly for sure, but a wrestling legacy left behind by a truly athletic and far-sighted Black Panther who founded and maintained the gym for many years to encourage young professional talent in Manchester in the '60s.

Grant had wrestled the biggest and the best over the years - Assirati, Bartelli, Beaumont, Pye, Mitchell, Portz, Mancelli, Marino, the Ghoul, Popopocopolis, Anaconda; a Who's Who of the post-War years. He passed his skills on willingly to those keen enough to learn. Grant had a simple philosophy about wrestling: entertain but do it with skill and flair.

Some made their mark big time like Mike Jordan, Johnny Saint, Sugar Ray Francis, Alf Marquette; many bumped along as journeyman wrestlers providing the grist to many a wrestling bill nation-wide. Some are still working quite actively like Johnny Saint and Ian Wilson both with forty-plus years of wrestling under their respective belts. It was a small gym that had a great impact upon professional wrestling during the Golden Age of our sport and it helped many of us along the road in our chosen sport.