H: Herdia - Horvath

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

Gypsy Fernando Herdia

Spanish heavyweight worked in northern England during the winter of 1956-7, with opponents including Francis St Clair Gregory, Jim Hussey and Tony Mancelli.

Robert Herland

French heavyweight Robert Herland is best remembered  for his clash with Bert Assirati in 1957 at the Brighton Sports Stadium when he failed to grasp Assirati's European Heavyweight Championship. An 18 stone powerhouse standing over six feet tall  he had a number of memorable clashes with Assirati during his 1951 tour, usually going down to the Islington Hercules; also squaring up to Alan Garfield, Charlie Scott and Rex Gable. 

Herland was an accomplished amateur wrestler, having represented his country in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, finishing 5th (of 11) in the Freestyle heavyweight competition. Robert turned professional in 1946 having served in the Second World War.

Pete Herman

Welterweight Pete Herman was another of the Barnsley lads, and so unsurprisingly he met Red Devil Charlie Glover as soon as he became interested in boxing. Charlie, father of Leon Arras and a good wrestler himself,  ran a boxing and wrestling gymnasium, The Junction. At the time Pete got involved the gym was in Quarry Street and had not yet moved to The Junction Gym behind the public house of that name.   Boxing was Pete's first love, but at Charlie's gym the lads would mix together and it wasn't unusual for each to have a go at the other sport. When Pete had a go at the wrestling he found he liked it. He liked it a lot and gradually he found himself learning more alongside Dwight J Inglesburgh, Karl Von Kramer and the rest of the Barnsley lads. They all moved to The Junction Gym in 1956 and a year or so later Pete turned professional.  Pete and his friend Sam Betts (Dwight J Ingleburgh) joined the Merchant Navy, based in Goole shovelling coal into the boilers. It was gruelling work but kept Pete in good condition to pursue his wrestling interests. Pete engaged in great matches with  Stoker Brooks, Pedro the Gypsy and Butcher Goodman in those early days, working for the independent promoters. In 1965 Pete joined Joint Promotions, though he was quick to tell us that he much preferred his time on the opposition circuit. One of his first opponents in Joint Promotion rings was Peter Preston, and it was a bit of a shock for Pete as he went down by two straight falls. There were to be many other matches with Peter Preston, fortunately with more favourable results, and Pete  looks back on them as some of his favourites. Others he enjoyed working with were Vic Faulkner, Linde Caulder and Pedro the Gypsy. Maybe not one of the first names that comes to mind when we remember the old days, but Pete is a typical example of one of those unsung heroes who made the wrestling business great.  

Joe Hill

Born in Bradford Joe Hill was a central part of the British wrestling scene for four decades, initially as a middleweight wrestler and latterly as one of the country's top referees. Following an amateur career that he shared with his friend, Les Kellett, Joe turned professional in the 1940s. Whilst his billing as Northern Area Middleweight Champion may not be overly impressive, his narrow loss in Paris to Gilbert LeDuc in a long bout for the latter's world title was more so. Following active wartime service in the RAF Hill returned to the ring, and encouraged his friend Les Kellett to join him. In the 1950s Joe began to cut down his wrestling commitments and gradually moved into a refereeing role. He is the only referee we can think of that was supported by a fan club. the Kelvin Fan Club.

Ron Hinchcliffe (Also known as Leni Robaire)

Ron Hinchcliffe was another graduate from Charlie Glover’s Barnsley gymnasium, where he learned to wrestle alongside Dwight J Ingleburgh, leon Arras, Blackburn Roberts and Pedro the Gypsy. He was born in Barnsley in 1939, Ron Priestley was his name at birth. Now here’s a bit of trivia. In 1961 Ron Priestley married Doreen Flude. Doreen had two sisters. One sister married Pedro the Gypsy and the other married Trevor Hutchinson, who wrestled as Paul Boyne. So we have three sisters marrying three wrestlers from Glover’s gym. Ron was a very fast wrestler who worked mainly in the north for independent promoters. He did have one speciality move, remembered by his friend Dwight J Ingleburgh, “Ron Hinchcliffe was the only wrestler I knew, other than Julien Morice, who could execute a swinging backbreaker to perfection.”  The name Leni Robaire was used occasionally at the start of his career around 1960, the creation of Brian Glover,

In 1984 Ron and Doreen bought the Dove Inn on Doncaster Road Barnsley from Whitbread Brewery. They owned it until 2002 when they sold it to the Merry Monk Pub Company.

Ron Hinchcliffe died in 2019.

Dave Hines

Dave "The Ratcatcher" Hines made his professional debut in 1968. The twenty-one year old had been learning the professional ropes for a couple of years at Bruno Elrington's Portsmouth gymnasium, alongside Bruno, John Kowalski and Tarantula Alan Turner, under the special guidance of Crusher Mason. Outside the ring Dave worked for his local council in the pest control department, hence his nickname "The Ratcatcher." A good villain who knew how to upset the fans, as much by his verbal abuse as his rule bending antics  Dave Hines remained part of the British wrestling scene for over thirty years, a good run by anyone's standards. He had  his final bout, against Adrian Finch in 2000.

 Dave Hines passed away in May 2012.

Jim Hipkiss

James Hipkiss was born on 20th June, 1897. He was a renowned judoka  who turned to wrestling in the 1930s to earn a bit of money. He could be found on wrestling bills between 1934  and 1938     Opponents included Stan Stone, Costas Astreos and Steve Szalay.  We find him firstly at the Palais de Danse in West Bromwich in May 1934, wrestling Johanfesson. With both men wearing judo jackets and using wrestling rules it took Hipkiss less than eight minutes to extract two submissions from Johanfesson.

It was jujitsu in which Hipkiss excelled, winning the British Open Ju Jitsu Champion by beating Alf Morgan in a tournament held in Blackheath, London in March, 1927. Jim Hipkiss ran a judo club in Small Heath which was frequented by numerous renowned exponents.  In 1941 he wrote “The Complete Ju-Jitsuan and Unarmed Combat”  for the Home Guard.

James Hipkiss died on 26th April, 1979.

Gray Hobman

We remember Gray Hobman as a muscular, bearded light heavyweight who looked the part but ran up an impressive sequence of losses against run of the mill domestic opposition.  He came from New Zealand, more precisely from Rotorua, the town of boiling hot mud pools and spurting geezers. He was said to be the  heavyweight champion of New Zealand, having taken the title from Luke Graham in 1968. Gray toured Britain, or rather Dale Martin land, for three months during the summer of 1970.

Jess Hodgson

Bradford heavyweight Jesse Hodgson was quite a force on the heavyweight scene in the first half of the 1960s. With a bushy  ginger beard many fans likened him to the Manchester veteran Man Mountain Benny. Training at the Windmill Club and later the Hill Top clubs in Bradford Jess was an amateur for ten years before turning professional in his early twenties.  Dave Sutherland remembers, “He used to arrive in his van which had his name emblazoned on the side and his occupation of plumber.”  A light heavyweight in his early days Jess soon filled out into a full blown heavyweight. Much of his early career was dogged by cartilage injury and this may have led to his short career.

Horst Hoffman
The classy German made it across the Channel to Britain in 1958, returning for a longer visit in 1959 and facing Texas Jack  Bence at the Royal Albert Hall. A man of immense technical ability he more than held his own with Britain's best, and faced most of them during his numerous visits. The promoters didn't allow him to remain completely invincible, Joe Zaranoff, Ian Campbell and Georges Gordienko being amongst his vanquishers. He was back at the Royal Albert Hall in 1963 for the annual International Heavyweight tournament, going out in his semi-final match against Josef Zaranoff.  Last seen in Britain in 1965 Horst Hoffman went to Japan in 1972 and on to the USA in 1974, where during the following three years he wrestled the top men Verne Gagne, Dory Funk Jr and Billy Robinson. This wasn’t quite the last we saw of Horst Hoffman. In the early hours of Saturday morning 26th June, 1976, a transatlantic transmission of his match against Bruno Sammartino was broadcast live from New York to cinemas across Britain.  In the 1970s the man known as great shooter was invited numerous times to Japan to exchange holds with legends like “Destroyer” Dick Beyer.  Hoffmann retired in 1988.

Gerry Hogan
Clean cut Blackpool based light heavyweight Gerry Hogan was a familiar figure throughout the Midlands and the north for ten years or so. Following a stint in the merchant navy and training as an amateur boxer Gerry learned the wrestling trade in Wigan before making his debut against Alec Bray in 1958. In the decade that followed he swapped holds with the biggest names from middleweight to heavy but was destined to remain a preliminary bout performer.

Kenny Hogan
A blond haired, lanky middleweight who flew around northern rings in the 1970s and 1980s. A good technical wrestler from Ashton in Makerfield who sadly didn't go on to great things, though made a few impressive television appearances. One was a sizzling bout with Bert Royal, sadly followed by a six man tag match in which he partnered Tally Ho Kaye and Black Jack Mulligan that unsurprisingly failed to display his talent!

Jim Holden 
Jim Holden was another of those hard as nails Wigan northerners, respected by fellow professionals, but never producing the spark to make him into a big name. He was, nonetheless, a more than competent career light heavyweight wrestler who was a mainstay of northern and midland shows from 1946 until the mid 1960s. We come across Jim for the first time in January,1946, wrestling Cliff Beaumont in Birmingham, and last saw him in a show at Chorley Town Hall around 1966. He worked full time for Joint Promotions until 1959, up and down the country for Morrell & Beresford,  Wryton and Relwyskow Green Promotions. In the twilight years of his career Jim moved across to the opposition promoters where he continued working until the mid 1960s.

Al Hollamby
Whizz kid of the 1970s and 1980s Judo Al Hollamby looked the part in his white judo outfit. He could wrestle too, against the likes of Bob Courage, Adrian Street and Alan Sargeant. Often seen in tag action alongside Roger L Sandilands, collectively known as Les Diaboliques. Apart from wrestling extensively Al was also one of the major southern independent promoters of the 1970s, in 1979, Verdun Leslie Promotions  promoting the first ladies match in London for many years.

Dutchy Holland
Our attempts to uncover information about Dutchy Holland have proved fruitless. This is unfortunate as his son would like to know more about his father. Patrick Henry Holland was born on 3rd February, 1931, served in the navy and then wrestled from 1950 to 1954 approximately.

Mike Holt
Worked on independent promotions in the 1960s and 1970s.

Robin Hoode
Wearing green tights, short, ragged jacket and the sort of haircut that makes seventies nostalgia such a hoot Lincoln’s Robin Hoode was a welterweight performer on the independent circuit in the 1970s. Fans mocked as he entered the ring, but mockery turned to boos and jeers as this bag of dynamite was not quite the same sort of  people’s hero as  his namesake. Described as the “Mighty Atom” Robin Hoode was a mainstay of the independent scene in the east of England, training at Brian Trevors Gym and appearing regularly on Trevors’ Anglian Promotion and the Clark brothers Star Promotions  bills.

Following his retirement Hoode gained international success in a second sport under more challenging circumstances.  After tragically going blind he began playing bowls and won a Silver Medal in the World Blind Singles Championships.

Bob Hooton (Also known as The Black Knight and Tommy the Demon)
The Black Knight was another man behind a mask who enraged the fans in the late forties and early fifties. Finally unmasked in 1952 the Black Knight was revealed as Bob Hooton, who then wrestled as Tommy the Demon. Not an exclusive name by any means, even in the 1930s the name Tommy the Demon was also associated with Tommy Mack and used again by independent promoters in the 1960s.

Len Hornby (Also known as Big Bill Schultz)
A gentle giant to his friends the Barrow rugby player Len Hornby moved to Salford where he based a flourishing wrestling career and worked on Salford Docks.  His wrestling career began in 1950 with early matches against Tony Baer, Bob McDonald and Jack Atherton. In the mid 1950s he joined the merchant navy sailing the north and south Atlantic, but his interest in wrestling continued. Len continued wrestling for the independent promoters as his navy duties permitted, mainly in northern England against opponents that included Man Mountain Bill Benny, Harry Bennette and Hans Streiger. In the late 1950s, now weighing over twenty stones Len assumed the identity of the villainous  American Big Bill Schultz.   Len retired from wrestling in 1961. He remained living in Salford until his death in 1999.

Janos Horvath
Janos (born Jeno) was an amateur wrestler in Hungary, following in the footsteps of his father before he came to Britain in December, 1956.Twenty-two year old Janos was living in Luton when he turned professional in 1958, wrestling Chic Purvey in his debut.  Jack Dempsey, Bernard Murray and Archer O’Brien were quality opponents who suggested some class before he disappeared abruptly in November of the same year.