WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

E: Jackie Glitterboy Evans


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Jackie Glitterboy Evans


As the grainy black and white pictures of our 1960s television sets brought us our weekly fix of professional wrestling many Heritage readers dreamed that one day they too would follow in the footsteps of Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo and Les Kellett. For the vast majority of us it would remain a dream. There were so many obstacles. Where to learn? Who to ask? What would our parents say? 

Martin Gillott had all those obstacles, but he wasn't going to let such small details get in his way. Martin was born in Stroud in 1953. Like so many of us he watched the Saturday afternoon wrestling on the television. 

Then the wrestling came to town. Mum and dad were well and truly nagged by their persistent eleven year old and off they went to the Subscription Rooms in Stroud.  There was a Red Indian (as they were known in those days) called Thunderbird and a Cowboy called Cassidy. Unsuspecting Martin little realised their Wild West credentials came from no further west than Manchester and they had probably travelled to Stroud together along with that nice West Indian Jumping Jim Moser. It wouldn't have mattered to Martin anyway. This was wrestling in colour. Much more exciting than anything he watched on television. Well and truly hooked; there was little else to talk about at home or school for the next few days.

An announcement to his parents that he was going to be a wrestler came as something of a surprise to say the least, and dismissed as if he had said he had plans to be an astronaut. Family links with wrestling went no further than mum shouting at the dirty wrestlers on television, and no one knew how or where to learn. Older brother Peter did invite Martin along to a boxing gym, but that hardly had the excitement of the wrestling and he did have the habit of losing so gave that up.

Wrestling it was to be. If a bit of luck was needed Martin would make his own by grasping an opportunity when the fairground came to town. At the fairground Ronnie Taylor's booth invited locals to take on his colourful array of wrestlers. Martin's wrestling experience at the time went no further than putting on "shows" in his village aided by two mates, a rope and one of his mother's bed sheets.  That was enough for fifteen year old Martin who was eager to volunteer to take on Taylor's champions.  

One of the wrestlers on the booth was Killer Ken Davies, a hard no-compromising welterweight who was well known around the halls. With the audacity of youth Martin's hand shot up to try his chance.  Martin told us: “After the bout Killer Ken came up to me and asked if I would continue to wrestle in the future? I told him 'Yes of course.' He patted me on the head and told me that I had impressed him. I felt quite chuffed. 'Was I okay?' I asked?  'No,' came the reply, 'you were rubbish, I was referring to the fact that not many of you boys carry on with it after a few rounds with me.' ”

Enthusiasm more than talent led Ronnie Taylor asked the youngster if he would like to work on the booth, "He said he needed wrestlers with our talent, but I think he meant cheap."  This was the luck Martin had created. Of course, he would.  His parents dismay at his aspiration to wrestle paled into insignificance with the horror of their young boy joining the travellling circus. And that was before he told them about his sleeping arrangements with the bearded lady and two strippers! You'll have to buy his book to find the details.

After two seasons  he left the fairground life behind him and started to work in the halls for independent promoters. The luxury of a changing room with a ceiling, heating and a hot shower if you were lucky.  

It was around this time that he travelled from Gloucester to Birmingham and back again every Sunday morning to train at Hadley Playing fields alongside well-known names such as Reg Yates, Johnny Diamond and occasionally that great ambassador of wrestling, Pat Roach. 

It was time for a new name.

New name, new image. Martin is the first to admit that his wrestling ability alone would never be enough to make him stand out. Two of his favourites were Ricky Starr and Adrian Street. They seemed to be doing well enough so Martin decided to fill a similar niche for the independent promoters.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Jackie Glitterboy Evans. 

The long hair was authentic, the blond colouring wasn't. The camp act was fake too! This was the early 1970s. Homosexuality had only been decriminalised in 1967. Brave stuff. The flamboyant persona of blond hair, brightly coloured gowns, face glitter and make-up, made Jackie a valuable commodity for any promoter and bookings started to come in from all parts of the country. There were enough bookings to work more or less full time, just taking on occasional labouring jobs when the need arose.

Naturally Glitterboy had to play the villain, and he certainly did it well. Wrestlers asked about memorable moments often mention a particular opponent or venue. When we asked about his  most memorable moment the reply was unexpected: " There were several memorable moments but the one that sticks in my memory is the night I took my mother to see me wrestle.  She took exception to my antics in the ring and hit me with her handbag, saying, 'I never brought you up to act that way.'" Martin still laughs when he tells this story and has immortalised the occasion in a poem, "Lady at the ringside.”

Most of his twelve years in the ring were working for the independent promoters. Although initially thrilled to be offered work by Joint Promotions he discovered the grass was not always greener on the other side. As many others have told us, the money was better for the independents and “The trouble was that they wanted to own you and you couldn’t work for other Promoters, yet they only gave us a couple of fights a Month.” 

Jackie Glitterboy Evans returned to the independent scene where he stayed until the early 1980s when he called time on his wrestling career.

Retirement was far from the end. Martin shared memories of his wrestling career in his autobiography, "Confessions of a Wrestler," and is a generous supporter of the Wrestlers Reunions in Ayr, Blackpool and Kent.

Page added 19/09/2021