British wrestling history 

has a name


I: Isdale - Istaz

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Bobby Isdale (Bobby Belle)

The eldest of the Isdale brothers was Bobby Isdale, who combined his part time wrestling commitments with running a mobile grocery. Bobby ometimes worked under the ring name of Bob Belle, not to be confused with another non Scot of that name. Bobby joined the Mossblown gym around a year later than his younger brother.

He was heavier, performing as a Heavy-Middleweight and was more of a comedic worker. He had the rare gift of perfect timing, both as a mat-man and also as a witty grappler, with  his often right off the cuff witty ring remarks, would often have an audience in stitches.

Sadly Bob like the youngest Isdale brother; Ronald "Moon" (sometime stand-in Ring Second and also Referee) both departed this earth as younger men and they are well remembered and sadly missed in their native Ayrshire and also in Scotland as a whole. As a Tag Team Bob and Jim were always a popular addition to any Bill, and their performances were enjoyed by everyone who paid their hard earned cash. 

Jim Isdale

Jim Isdale was the taller and the younger two wrestling brothers that enlivened the Scottish wrestling scene in the 1970s. He started at The Old Mossblown Wrestling Gym as a sixteen year old in the late 1960's. At that time he had just started an apprenticeship in the motor trade in a Volkswagen Agents near Prestwick Airport.

He progressed under the tutelage of Dale Storm and eighteen months later had his first professional bout. Having pursued a busy grappling career for a few years, then having finished his Mechanical Training Jim joined the RAF Regiment and served in many theatres including Northern Ireland.

Subsequent injury meant he was invalided out of the armed forces and he returned to civilian life, where he helped out, when able, in and around local shows run by Spartan Promotions. Jim was a Welterweight of some considerable ability and were it not for his decision to enter military service there is no doubt he would have developed into a star of some note. At the Inaugural Wrestlers' Re-Union Scotland meeting in Ayr in June 2017,  Jim the only surviving sibling graciously accepted Awards in Remembrance of both Bobby and Ronald.

Buddy Isles

We have records of Buddy Isles between 1948 and 1952, five contests against Stoke's Jim Mellor. Further information is welcomed.

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.

Karel Istaz

Many readers of Wrestling Heritage are of an age when they have vivid memories of American magazines of the 1960s, where they read of the exploits of Thesz, Sammartino, Gagne, and a man called Karl Gotch. In those days the magazines arrived weeks after their American publication but nonetheless contained details of matches that appeared more exciting, and far more violent,  than anything we saw on our tv screens or in the halls.

Few at the time were aware that  less than a decade earlier Karl Gotch had been a regular feature of Northern rings. In those days he was still known by his Belgian birth name of Karel Istaz.  Istaz came to Britain in 1950, bringing impressive amateur credentials as a Belgian representative in the 1948 Olympics. He had competed in both the freestyle and Greco Roman styles in the light heavyweight division.

Two years later Karel Istaz turned professional, using the name Karl Krauser in Germany. Soon he  headed to Britain. His  mission when he came to Britain was to learn to really wrestle in the old fashioned professional style developed in Lancashire, Catch as Catch Can. He was destined to become one of the last great exponents of the style.  He became a regular at the Billy Riley gymnasium and he was a devoted student.   For much of the time he spent in Wigan Karel lived with Billy Joyce, who was also making his way in the professional ring at that time. Karel was destined to remain a student at Wigan for eight years before emigrating to the USA in 1960, adopted the name Karl Gotch, and  became one of the few Europeans to reach the top of the profession. In the 1970s Gotch wrestled in Japan for a prolonged period, meeting up with his good friend Billy Robinson. 

In no way attempting to discredit Karl Gotch we repeat these wonderful memories of young teenager Bernard Hughes, "I saw Karel Istaz at Newcastle,late 40's early 50's.

Quite honestly I wasn't too impressed with his style but I remember that at the time I was amazed at the strength of his wrestlers bridge. Nothing else stands out except for his new brown leather holdall.He asked me to show him the way to Newcastle Central station and I remember the holdall more than his performance."

In retirement he returned to America, where he died on 28th July, 2007.