British wrestling history 

H: Hayes - Herberts

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

Buster Hayes
George Andrew Hayes hit Britain in March, 1937. He arrived ,in Liverpool from Nova Scotia, accompanied by his friend Carl Van Wurden. He was 29 years old and wrestled in Britain for just over a year, using the names Buster and Butcher Hayes. He departed from Southampton on 16th  April, 1938, destined for New York. Ron Historyo has discovered that Buster and Carl Van Wurden were regular opponents, working together in Blackpool, Exeter, Newcastle, and no doubt many other places.

Chunky Hayes
One of wrestling’s characters who didn’t make it to the big time but played an important role in the wrestling scene.  

Born in Wombwell, a mining town near Barnsley Chunky had a background training boxers before turning to wrestling. 

As a promoter he used the biggest names on the independent circuit, including Dwight J Ingleburgh and Karl Von Kramer.  Chunky was a driving force behind women’s wrestling in the 1960s, Naughty Nancy Barton and Lolita Loren amongst his proteges. He is fondly spoken of by those who remember him.  Wherever those that knew him gather together  the stories about Chunky begin to flow, often about the rickety bus in which he transported his workers,  the wig he wore in the ring, or the instruction to wrestlers staying at his home to not leave their bedroom because  he let the alsations loose at night for security, and a good few stories we wouldn’t dare to repeat.

Tony  Hayhurst

A young farmer from Milnthorpe in Westmorland who found success in the Cumberland and Westmorland style, in which he was champion. Not surprising really as he was from the family of legendary Cumberland and Westmorland wrestler Gilpin Bland. Tony took up Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling in 1949, and won the Under 18 Championship at Armathwaite in 1953, and the 14st title at Dalston in 1957. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Edgar, who was a Cumberland and Westmorland champion for many years. Tony's C&W success was followed by a short lived professional career that began in January 1962 and was cut short by injury a few months later. The Hayhurst family is still actively involved in Cumberland and Westmorland style wrestling.

Tony Hayhurst died in 2018.

Roy Heffernan
One half of the world famous Fabulous Kangaroos tag team, Roy Heffernan, visited Britain in 1953 and again in 1955. The 1953 tour was mainly in Northern England but in 1955 he travelled more extensively. Opponents included Jack Pye, Dave Armstrong and a Royal Albert Hall bout with the German Hermann Iffland.

In 1957 Heffernan went to Canada to work for Stu Hart’s Stampede Promotion. It was here he was re-acquainted with Al Costello and the two of them formed the Fabulous Kangaroos tag team. From 1957 until 1965, Heffernan and Costello played a leading role in popularising tag team wrestling. When the tag partnership ended Heffernan returned to Australia in 1965 where he continued wrestling for WCW as a villain, appearing in main events on par with the visiting American  stars, with wins over Curtis Iaukea and Karl Gotch. Later demoted, quite wrongly in some eyes, to a preliminary worker Roy was required to do his duty when facing American visitors. He retired in 1972, becoming a referee for the WCW and on the club circuit. A brief comeback in 1973 and began promoting independently in 1975.

Roy Heffernan died of a heart attack in Sydney on 24th September, 2002, aged 67.

Danny  Hegan (Also known as Diarmuid Hegarty)
The highly respected Irish amateur wrestler Diarmuid Hegarty became the popular middleweight of the  second half of the 1960s, Danny Hegan. A one time boxer, and a weight lifter, it was eventually grappling that became Danny's favourite sport and he took up amateur wrestling shortly after moving to England in the late 1950s.  His training ground, like many other prospective professionals, was the Foresters Amateur Wrestling Club in London.  
Danny turned professional in the early 1960s, before moving across to Joint Promotions early in 1968 and making his television debut in October of that year. He was a popular figure on the 1960s and 1970s wrestling scene. Danny was a fast accomplished technical wrestler who is probably remembered mostly by fans as one half of the Silent Ones tag team, partnering both Harry Kendall and Mike Eagers.  
Danny Hegan died on 15th September, 2008.

Karl Heinz (Also known as Nobby Clarke)
The name sounds Teutonic, and he certainly looked the part, but once he begins to talk it is abundantly obvious that Karl Heinz’s roots are closer to Kent than Kiel. Karl Heinz is indeed a Kentish lad, born in Northfleet in 1940. The name Karl Heinz is a wrestling creation, as was sibling relationship with his wrestling brother, Kurt.

Judo was Karl’s first sporting interest, but enthusiasm alone was not enough to buy the required clothing. Times were hard in the early 1950s and so Karl turned his attention to amateur wrestling which didn’t require any expensive equipment or clothing. He spent six years as an amateur at the AEI Sports Club in Gravesend.  Karl was at the time working for AEI Cables as a high pressure tyre fitter.  At the time Karl had no interest whatsoever in professional wrestling. Whilst at AEI he did meet an army instructor known as Smiley Evans, and it was to be Smiley that suggested dropping his family name of Clarke and assuming the identity of Karl Heinz.

Karl Heinz turned professional in 1964,  weighing around 11 stones at the time,  and working initially for independent promoters such as Verdun-Leslie, predictably billed as German. With his move across to Joint Promotions in the early 1970s his abode was changed to the more credible Gravesend, Kent. His first opponent for Joint Promotions was Alan Serjeant, a man for whom he still has great respect and from whom he has learned a great deal.  Working for Dale Martin Karl began tagging with his “wrestling brother,” Kurt.  The pair faced Greg Valentine and Pat Patton on television in June 1987, losing by two falls to one.

For twenty years Karl was a regular worker, mainly in the south, though he does name Belle Vue, Manchester, as his favourite place to wrestle. The wrestling business  took him around the world, through Europe, the Middle East and India.  In the 1980s he returned to the independent promoters where he continued to work regularly until the mid 1990s.

Kurt Heinz
The Gravesend villain of the 1970s looked very much like Karl Heinz. Or at least he did after he shaved his head. The two claimed to be brothers but were not related.  Working for the independent promoters Kurt was looking to be taken on by Joint Promotions. His wish was granted on condition that he shaved his head and became the wrestling brother of Karl Heinz.  He made his tv debut in May, 1980, losing to Keith Haward. Half a dozen  television matches followed, but we can’t find a win for Kurt amongst them. Kurt was one of those fall-guys who played such a valuable part in British wrestling. 

Johnny Hemms
Johnny Hemms was a jeweller from Dudley in the West Midlands. He is remembered by Wrestling Heritage member Mike Richards who watched him in a match in Bromsgrove at the St. John’s Church Fayre, June 1967 in the grounds of the vicarage. A wrestling ring was set up on the large lawn and there were two bouts, Johnny Hemms vs. Dave Scawthorne and Johnny Peters vs, Gorilla Reg Ray. What made it extra unusual, and also turned it into a comedy show, the St. John’s vicar was referee for the first bout! We ponder the possibility that he could have been the Bobby Hemms that faced Dynamite Kid in the Kid's professional debut. 

John Herbert
We find John Herbert bookending the 1950s. From Somercotes in Derbyshire he was renowned for a rather snazzy line in leopardskin trunks.Trained by Jack Taylor opponents included Jack himself (of course), Al Tarzo and Chick Elliott.

Kenny Herberts (Also known as Les Herberts, Mike Powers)
Kenny (alternatively Les) Herberts was a heavyweight from Warrington who turned professional in the mid 1960s and was a popular figure in northern rings during the sixties and seventies. He was trained by Ted Betley at his gym in Warrington, alongside other Betley proteges that went on to gain success, Steve Wright, Mike Dallas and the Karalius brothers.

Kenny made his television debut  in 1966 against Peter Stewart but  for his second bout had the misfortune of facing the giant Japanese fighter Shozo Koboyashi, and getting knocked out in the first round! A strong, skilled wrestler Les remained part of the supporting class and failed to make it to top of the bill status. He tried to add colour and  gain further acclaim with the name Mike Powers. We don’t think it worked. Our assessment an accomplished wrestler who the promoters did no favours.