WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

I: Iffland- Israel

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Hermann Iffland
It was reported that the German heavyweight champion from Bochum whose first claim to fame in the UK  was the unfortunate fifties hospitalization of Gwyn Davies. Whether or not that was reality or wrestling hype we don’t know, but we do know Hermann Iffland was a class act who made his way over to the UK in January 1955, where we first find him wrestling Shirley Crabtree. Charlie Green, Mike Marino, The Ghoul and Pat Curry at the Royal Albert Hall were amongst those opponents during that first tour. A three month visit established Hermann as one of Europe’s top heavyweights.

He was back to Britain in 1958 with wins over a novice Bill Robinson, the experienced Alan Garfield and Mike Marino and Royal Albert Hall victories over Dai Sullivan and Norman Walsh.

In 1962 achieved the accolade of numbering amongst the lucky 14 wrestlers to appear on the first Royal Show in front of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1963. His opponent was Dazzler Joe Cornelius, arguably the most popular of all Albert Hall heavies.  That Hermann went down by the odd fall in three is no reflection of his ability. It could have been no other way on a Royal occasion.  A respected wrestler throughout Europe Hermann Iffland was  a  regular winner of West German tournaments on his home territory.

He last appeared in Britain in 1963. Hermann Iffland died on 6th July, 2004.


Fazal Ilahi

Born in Pakistan in 1932 Fazal Ilahi was in his mid twenties when he came to Britain in the 1950s and settled  in Bradford. He took up work as a spinner and weaver at British Belting and Asbestos in Cleckheaton.

One of his interests was wrestling and by 1959 was wrestling professionally part time. Contact with the Crabtree family brought him his early matches for independent promoters Max Crabtree, Norman Berry and Jack Taylor.  Our last sighting of Fazal Ilahi was at the end of 1962. A father of seven children Fazal also enjoyed walking and was very active in his local community and known for his charity work, mostly through connections with his local mosques.

Fazal Ilahi died in November, 2019. The cause of death was mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure.


Buddy Iles
A lightweight billed from Levenshulme we discovered Buddy Iles in February, 1948, wrestling Jim Mellor in Hanley. We find no further references until 1952 with contests against Chris Londos, Young Atlas, and three more against Mellor. Then he disappeared again. Please get in touch if you can help.


Syd Ingleson

Okay, not the biggest name in wrestling, but definitely one worth reading about. “The Adonis of the North” Syd Ingleson  was born in Hull  and moved to Bradford whilst a child. He was Principal of the Sydenham Physical Culture Club in  Bradford and mostly celebrated for his success as a physical culturalist. That success reached a climax with winning the 1933 Mr Britain competition outright. In 1934 he began wrestling professionally, mostly around northern England against the likes of Fred Unwin, Les Stent and Jack Alker.. We have found matches between 1934 and 1938.  In 1939 he was living in Bradford with his wife, Mary, and declared his occupation as a masseur and physical training expert.


Sydney Ingleson, born 16th October, 1900, died 2nd September, 1954.
Mitsu Inoue
Bouts involving this 1971 Japanese visitor, Sueo Inoeu, began in such good humour. Twenty two years old when he came to Britain the Japanese heavyweight would offer a half smile before bowing deeply to the audience, his opponent, and seemingly anything that moved.  The first round or two were usually fought within the rules, with the obligatory pauses for the occasional bow. The initial signs of irritation, when things were not going the Japanese wrestler’s way, would be the unleashing of a flurry of chops. Their force stopped his opponent in his stride, temporarily at least, but when they weren’t enough Mitsu Inoue would discard the rules and use any tactic to win. In his 1971 Royal Albert Hall bout against Steve Veidor he dragged the Cheshire heavyweight from the ring o start a rare ringside brawl amongst the fans.

Dave Ireland
Seven years of wrestling activity deserves more than this. We have records of Dave Ireland working for independent promoters between 1958 and 1965. We would welcome further information.

Iron Duke
One of the true pioneers of all-in wrestling  James  William Welsh was the Iron Duke and was born in London on 6th May , 1901  to a family of Irish heritage. His father had begun working life as a labourer but by the time of William's birth was working as  a crane driver.  William Welsh went on to work in London's Surrey Docks as a stevedore and joined the merchant navy in 1921, serving on the battleship Iron Duke. 

It was from here that he took his fighting name, The Iron Duke. It was a name which reports suggest suited a no-nonsense rugged style. In a contest against Francis St Clair Gregory it was reported, “The Iron Duke opened with heavy punching and the second round was only half through when the Cornishman was beaten to the mat with blows on the back of his neck. He was apparently dazed and the referee counted him out.” 

On another occasion the Iron duke “secured the first fall in the second round by punching his opponent to the boards.” The opponent was none other than the giant 7 feet tall, 22 stones Carver Doone! 

We have read of other equally rumbustious encounters with Jack Pye and Bulldog Bill Garnon. Whoever the opponent the Iron Duke could give as good as he got. In fairness we should add that there are many reports of the Iron Duke wrestling skilfully and within the rules, such as a match with Sam Rabin, in which “the encounter was notable for the sporting way in which it was contested,” and against Carl Reginsky, “One of the finest and cleanest wrestling bouts seen in Plymouth.” Iron Duke wrestled mainly, but not exclusively, in the south of England against all the well-known names of the All-In era, finally disappearing from our rings around 1945.

The Iron Duke died on 15th September 1970.

Isha Ismail
Our references are all for Isha Ismael working for Jack Taylor's International Promotions in the early 1960s. Most likely capitalising on the more famous Judah Ischa Israel (see below)..

Juda Ischa Israel
Clever and stylish the Jewish welterweight Juda Ischa Israel was introduced to British audiences in January, 1955. Starting out facing the tough nut of Scotland Chic Purvey we were impressed by the relentless quality of his opposition. 

There were no easy rides for this clever wrestler moving on from George Kidd to Cliff Beaumont, Jack Dempsey, Ken Joyce, Alan Colbeck, Eddie Capelli, Jim Lewis, Mick McManus, Jack Cunningham, Eric Sands, Cyril Knowles, Pat Kloke; opposition could come no harder than this. His style was  most suitable for opposition to scientific wrestlers, and George Kidd was a frequent opponent. 

He left British rings after four months but was welcomed back in January 1956  for another short visit. Further visits were made in 1958 and 1959. Between 1960 and 1964 he was back in Britain, this time wrestling for the independent promoters, and returning to Joint promotion rings in October, 1964. Last seen in Salisbury in October, 1965.
21/04/2021: Hermann Iffland updated, page reviewed
24/11/2019 Fazal Ilahi added