WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

The Taylors of Lancashire
Jack Taylor & Ray Taylor

The Quiet Mover & Shaker

Jack Taylor

Many of the stars we remember in Wrestling Heritage seemed to loom large wherever they went. No one missed Jackie Pallo walking into a room. Pat Roach had a less dramatic but equally imposing presence. Big Daddy on an economy flight would be noticed.


There were others, though, who quietly got on with things, making their mark and having an often dramatic impact on those around them. These were the quiet men.  


The men who gained respect from those whom they met and made a difference to the lives of many. Such a man was a welterweight wrestler and independent promoter going by the name Jack Taylor.  


It’s easy to fall into the habit of using all the usual adjectives to describe another old pro. The fact remains that words like tough, tenacious, cunning and skilful fitted Jack Taylor just as much as his local rivals Jack Dempsey, Fred Woolley, Tommy Mann and Mel Riss, though Lancastrian Taylor has spent most of his adult life living in Leicestershire.


Although less well known than many of his peers it would be totally wrong to think that this quiet man was any less significant in the history of wrestling than any of those more famous names. Indeed, Jack Taylor must rank as one of the most influential post war wrestlers. Not only was he a first class wrestler and promoter Jack Taylor was also a regular contributor to wrestling publications using the name Charles Street.  


It was reassuring to see Taylor’s influence acknowledged by Pat Roach in his autobiography, “If.”  Pat was always quick to point out that his entry into the paid ranks, and all his subsequent successes, would have been very unlikely without the encouragement and knowledge of Jack Taylor.


Not unlike a modern soccer scout Taylor would travel around the country seeking out promising young athletes to invite along to his gym in  Leicester. In Leicester they would be given a try-out against an established professional before a decision was made whether or not they were worthy of further investment. Very few made the grade, and Taylor himself said that no more than a handful made it to the top. 


Training at the Taylor gym gave a good foundation for a professional career, and for most that meant starting out on the independent circuit. Taylor himself was a well established promoter, using the name International Promotions.  


He promoted regularly throughout the North and Midlands, with the Granby Hall, Leicester being one of his main venues for over twelve years. His influence spread further afield by matchmaking for other independent promoters.


When Birmingham promoter Lew Phillips became disillusioned with boxing he chose to go into the thriving wrestling business. Well aware of his own lack of experience in this field he turned to Jack Taylor for advice.


Although a respected and hard-edged businessman Jack Taylor is also respected as a generous and caring individual. In his book, “Two falls, two Submissions or a Knock-out,”  Al Marquette recalls the night Jack towed his broken down car from Birmingham to Stockport, in the opposite direction of his own Leicestershire home.


Following the demise of the Mountevans era Jack’s love of the sport never faltered. Despite advancing years he continued to train youngsters, promote charity shows and produce a journal of the golden years, “Wrestling Whirl.”  When recalling the golden years of wrestling we ask you to find a place in your memory for one of the quiet men, Jack Taylor.      


Related article: Men In Suits: Wrestling Federation of Great Britain on www.wrestlingheritage.com

Ray Taylor 
(Also known as Young Raymond, Farmer Raymond)
Another Taylor, one from the Lancashire side of the Pennines. Our memories of Ray go back to the mid 1960s  when he never failed to please, be it in skilfull contests against Danny Flynn or rugged affairs against villains such as Killer Ken Davies.

Young Raymond, that was the name on the posters in the sixties, was born in the small Lancashire textile town of Accrington, famed for its football club, the "Accrington Pals," and a family of wrestling brothers. Ray Taylor was the younger brother of Accrington's Jack Taylor; a third brother, Doug, was referee and office manager for Jack Taylor Promotions. 

Ray was a youngster when older brother Jack moved away from Accrington to pursue his wrestling career from his new home in Langley Mills, Nottinghamshire. One night Jack took ten year old Ray along to the Victoria Baths, Nottingham. Ray was smitten. Like so many Heritage readers he still has vivid memories of the first time he watched a live professional wrestling show.   "The main bout was Gentleman Jim Lewis versus the Farmers Boy. Little did I know one day I would have the pleasure of wresting Jim at Granby Halls,  Leicester one of the greatest venues in England."  The Granby Halls was a huge, cavernous hall which fans packed out every Saturday night during the 1960s.

In his early teens Ray started working on a farm when not at school, hence the Farmer Raymond and Farmers Boy names. Leaving school when he was fifteen he went to work down the coal mines. During those teenagers the thought of becoming a wrestler could not be resisted. It wasn't until he was twenty that brother Jack began to teach him the ropes "It was the most harshest punishment I've ever endured."  His professional debut was against a man with a reputation for hardness, Killer ken Davies. "He hit me from pillar to post i still have the bruises to prove it, A nicer guy you could never wish to meet outside the ring, I wrestled him many times after but  I always gave as much as i got."

Other great matches remembered by Ray include those with Butcher Goodman and Cyril Knowles, "I wrestled Cyril several times but I was never in the same league."

Ray supplemented his wrestling earnings  as a HGV driver for a local milk depot. 7.00 am starts didn'c come easy having arrived home from a wrestling engagement at any time up to 3.00 am. Working for Jack (as well as other independent promoters) meant that Ray had to make himself available for work just about anywhere in the country.
It was hard work, but rewarded with many happy memories, and Ray was generous with his compliments for those he worked with, mentioning particular admiration for Gentleman Jim Lewis, Mick Collins, Al Marquette, Ken Davies, Randolf Turpin, Eric Sands, Dominic Pye, Jim Green, and the list goes on.