H: Hoffman - Houseman
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
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.
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.
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!
Read our extended tribute: Iron Man of the Lakes
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.
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.
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.
Worked on independent promotions in the 1960s and 1970s.
Tug Holton’s unspectacular wrestling career was marked by continual underlining of the fact that as a boxer he had faced Dick Richardson, Brian London and Henry Cooper, even decking 'Enery. Unfortunately there were no equivalent highlights of any kind in his wrestling during the sixties and seventies. Rather oddly this Waterloo heavyweight seemed regularly to face much smaller opponents such as Kellett, Torontos and Kwango, rather than similarly weighted contemporaries such as Tibor Szakacs or Steve Viedor. Most frequent opponent was skilful Clayton Thomson at two or three stones less. Thomson would outwit Holton and win every time, thereby illustrating to all spectators the apparent validity of catchweight bouts.
He is remembered for his tag partnership with Ivan Penzecoff, the black tighted villains menacingly opposing the good guys such as The White Eagles, The Saints and The Royals.A familiar figure on television he made around twenty-five television appearances against opponents as diverse as the aforementioned Thomson, powerful Geoff Portz and stylish Steve Viedor.
Holton's unremarkable villainy and unathletic shuffling do nothing to diminish our affection for this reliable undercarder.
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.
Len Hornby (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.
See the entry for Roy LaRue