H: Hardy - Hayden
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Birmingham lightweight Richard Hardy worked for the independent promoters in the 1970s.
The light heavyweight from Heywood turned professional following the second world war. In the late 1940s and 1950s he travelled up and down the country from Edinburgh to Plymouth wrestling the likes of Danny Flynn, Alf Cadman, Reg Williams and Jack Beaumont. Following the formation of Joint Promotions Bill was signed up by Joint Promotions and even made it to the Royal Albert Hall. Bill remained a busy worker until our last recorded match in 1964. He left one very worthwhile legacy, training the classy welterweight Terry Nylands.
Another “Irishman” on the independent circuit of the 1960s. Chances are he was more familiar with the streets of the West Midlands than any Irish town, because Cobber was from Nuneaton in Warwickshire. He learned to wrestle under the tutelage of Freddie Barnes at his gym in St Peters School in Yardley Street, Hillfields, Coventry. Cobber could, at times, be seen tag partnering another of Freddie’s men, Mick Macalasky (who wrestled as Sheamus O’Reilly), claimants of the Irish Tag Team Championship!
Pro wrestler George Harris of Preston was a heavyweight with a career spanning around ten years. He should not be confused with the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestler of that name. George Leonard Harris was born in Preston on 3rd May, 1930. A heavyweight who worked for Joint Promotions he turned professional in the mid 1950s. Opponents included top men such as Norman Walsh, Geoff Portz and John DaSilva, He retired in the early 1960s when he went into club management at Preston's Flamingo Night Club and then Club Royale. He died suddenly in 1971.
There was a short lived wrestling career for Glen Harris, the youngest son of the Plymouth Rock, Jackie Harris, and kid brother of heavyweight Judd Harris. Unfortunately for wrestling fans he was lost to the British army, serving for twenty years, initially in tanks and, following a road accident in Germany in a British army Land Rover, served in the medical corps. Glen Harris passed away in 2007.
Jackie Harris (Also known as Zoag Ffeiner)
Jackie Harris was “The Plymouth Rock.” Not of big stature he was certainly a very hard man who was held in fear by men twice his size. The exploits of Jackie Harris are talked about when wrestlers gather together to this day.
Although billed from Plymouth Jackie was actually born in Yorkshire, in Hebden Bridge, towards the end of the first world war before moving to the West country.
He began wrestling in 1935, adopting the name Bombardier Harris during the 1940s. He became even more exotic for a time in the early 1950's, using the name Zoag Ffenier.
His long career ended in 1963 when a ring accident resulted in a broken neck.
After retiring from active wrestling Jackie Harris became a popular referee, working for promoter Max Crabtree amongst others.
He was the father of Glen, Judd and Mike, all of who made their way in the wrestling world.
Jackie Harris died in 1968.
Big Jim Harris
The muscular and powerful American heavyweight, known also as The Mississpi Mauler came to Britain in 1981 to develop the skills learned in his apprenticeship years following a professional debut(as Sugar Bear harris) in 1978. He was a significant and powerful presence on the British scene developing some of the characteristics that were to take him on to greater fame when he returned to the United States as Kamala, the Ugandan cannibal. Whilst in Britain Harris defeated most of those in his path, many of whom were hardly top notch, but did come a cropper when facing more robust opponents such as Marty Jones, Pat Roach. Big Daddy, Mal Kirk, Wayne Bridges and an unfortunate March 1982 ending against Kwik Kik Lee when he broke his ankle. A sad footnote to Jim Harris' visit is that he was due to meet Mike Marino at Folkestone on 24th August 1981, the night that Marino was taken ill and died.
Judd Harris (Also known as Gunboat Harris, Baron Von Schultz)
Our memories of Judd Harris in the 1960s are of him reappearing sporadically when we were told that he had just returned from various exotic parts of the world. Fans of the late 1970s remember him as Gunboat Harris, and in the1980s he was transformed into Baron Von Schultz . Either way he is remembered as a bigm bruising heavyweight who turned to wrestling following a dalliance, like his father, with boxing. Father was the Plymouth Rock, Jackie Harris. Born in Plymouth Judd was brought up in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. On leaving school he joined the Royal Navy which not only enabled him to see the world but did add to his ring persona as the heavily tattooed, globe trotting wrestling sailor. On leaing the navy Judd turned professional, making his debut against Lee Sharoon.
Another of the famous wrestling family from Plymouth and latterly Hebden Bridge, Mick is the eldest son of the Pymouth Rock, Jackie Harris, and older brother of Judd. He emigrated to Australia where he wrestled under the name Peter Gabb.
No, not the film star. This Rex Harrison was from Doncaster, Yorkshire. Rex was a well known figure amongst wrestling enthusiasts of the 1940s and 1950s. He was trained by Doncaster's Chic Booth at Chic' gym in Balby, Doncaster. Rex wrestled extensively throughout the world thanks to his “day job” as a crew member of the HMS Orion. Mixed it with the big names like Count Bartelli and Billy Joyce.
Bernard Hughes told us, "I remember Rex Harrison,a heavyweight, wrestling at Newcastle in the early 1950's. I once asked Norman Walsh why Rex's legs appeared to be much less well developed than his upper body. The answer was that Rex had been in the merchant navy for many years and had done lots of bodybuilding exercises at sea.This meant that it was much easier to do presses etc on a bench rather than squats or other standing leg work."
Londoner Ron Harrison turned professional shortly before the outbreak of world war 2, and it was to be a career that lasted more than twenty years. One of the craftsmen of the ring Ron was well respected amongst fellow wrestlers. In the 1940s Ron was a lightweight, though over the years his weight increased to put him towards the top end of the light heavyweight division. Ron had a reputation as a calm, evenly tempered wrestler who would not become ruffled whatever the provocation. Opponents included just about everyone - Kidd, McManus, Logan, Dorazio, Howes, Hussey the very best in the business. Ron travelled extensively throughout the country and further afield to India and the Far East. He continued wrestling until the early 1960s, attracted to the opposition to work for Paul Lincoln Management. Ron passed away in 2001, aged 88.
Founder member of the Black Knights tag team with Honey Boy Zimba, Ezzard Hart was a sixties mid-heavyweight from St Andrews, Barbados and on the way up when he sadly passed away after illness in 1971. Hart was the first black wrestler in Britain to dye his hair blond, fashioned after the famous American wrestler, Sweet Daddy Siki. Ezzard was a versatile wrestler who, until he stepped into the ring, fans were unsure whether he would be wrestling clean or dirty. Falling naturally in the mid heavyweight division he was comfortably matched with the fastest and cleverest of middleweights to the roughest and toughest of heavyweights. Like so many others his in-ring experience began in another ring, that of the schoolboy boxer. Ezzard had a swagger that some would call arrogance and a hard edge that would always prevent him from being a fans' favourite. None of that could detract from his not inconsiderable skill and fans knew that here was a man who knew the business. But they still booed him! Despite his illness fans were genuinely shocked when his untimely death was announced in September 1971
Not the most readily recalled wrestler of the Mountevans era, but certainly one of the hardest; we have heard no less a man than Billy Robinson talk in respectful tones of this skilful and ruthless Lancashire heavyweight. Jimmy was born in Bryn in 1924 but lived most of his life in Wigan.
Here was a man who learned all that he could from the hard days at Riley's Wigan Snakepit. The journey from school to coal pit to wrestling ring was a well trodden one by the young men of Wigan, and it was one that Jim Hart chose to take. After learning the trade alongside Ernie Riley, Karel Istaz, Billy Joyce, and Jack Dempsey, trainer Billy Riley unleashed the latest of his boys on an unsuspecting wrestling public. For the next decade the young light heavyweight gained a reputation as a highly respected, more than capable worker who failed to catch the imagination of the public. As soon as the opportunity arose Jim gave up his job in the pits and took over a grocery shop, (in the street where Billy Joyce lived) which he ran with his wife, Margaret. Jim appeared on television eleven times in the early 1960s. After retiring from wrestling Jimmy took over management of the Monaco Ballroom in Hindley, venue of many a wrestling event.
Not a lot to report, maybe others can add more. Nick Hart was a wrestler from Kirby Sandall, a village near Doncaster. We have found a handful of contests all in Doncaster, between 1938 and 1940. Most notable opponents were Johnny Summers and Tommy Pye.
Norman Hart (also known as The Whistler)
"Norman Hart was a very hard man," according to one of his contemporaries, Jimmy Boy Devlin, who has nothing but praise for his hard of hearing colleague and friend. Heavyweight Norman, who worked the 1950s and 1960s rings of the North East, came from Stockton on Tees and was trained by Jim Stockdale. On occasions he would pull on a mask and assume the identity of The Whistler. Norman's career was curtailed when he emigrated to Australia where he pursued his involvement in wrestling by opening a gymnasium and training youngsters for the professional ring.
A young looking Roy Hart was featured in the last ever issue of The Wrestler magazine in October 1972. Roy was a lightweight from Norwich who trained with his friend, Robin Howard. We wonder what became of him?
Abdul Kader Hassouini (Also known as Abdul Kader)
Moroccan born lightweight based in France made two short visits to Britain, the first in the 1960s. During his 1977 tour he unsuccessfully challenged Johnny Saint in a World Lightweight championship clash that was televised from Maidstone.
Kid Hawaii was born in Belgium before moving to California whilst young. He took American citizenship and returned to Europe to pursue his wrestling career. Kid Hawaii made a short tour of Britain in 1972, losing to Tibor Szakacs at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1972.
Our knowledge of Jack Hayden is limited, but we have uncovered a substantial number of contests between December, 1936 and December, 1943 to make him worthy of inclusion and further investigation. Said to be a heavyweight and usually billed from New Zealand or Australia, though we have one reference to Manchester. In the seven years of wrestling almost all matches were in Northern England, and suggest a Manchester abode seems likely. Searches for an Australian or New Zealander of that name proved futile. An Australian boxer of that name can be ruled out due to an overlap of dates.. We do find a Jack Hayden wrestling in Australia in 1952. Irrespective of any connections we can tell you that reports suggest Jack Hayden was a rough wrestler, frequently disqualified. One report tells of Jack attacking the referee repeatedly as early as the first round.