P: Jackie Pallo & Jackie Pallo Jr

The First Celebrity of Professional Wrestling

Jackie Mr TV Pallo

One of the biggest names ever created by televised wrestling was born into Islington's Gutteridge boxing family in 1926 and had scaled no particular heights as a 1950s professional wrestler when he made his television début against Cliff Beaumont.  In this bout, a failed posting resulted in Pallo spreadeagling the corner and seemingly hurting his private parts.  The switchboards were jammed with viewers wanting to know how he was, his name became known, and Pallo needed little more encouragement to establish the persona of the pigtailed bombastic middleweight with for the time outrageous hair, ribbon and striped trunks.

His wife Trixie and young son were often to be seen at ringside and were worked into his bouts if at all possible, with kisses from Jack - and once, memorably, from his opponent.  Years later Trixie’s contribution would be honoured when Wrestling Heritage awarded her the accolade of First Lady of the Heritage Years.

Pallo’s feud with Mick McManus from 1962 to 1973 was the greatest in wrestling history, but what remains rather unclear to this day is just how deep the rivalry went;  Pallo beat McManus once only during this feud. Read our review in A Year of Wrestling 1972.  However, even the very basic facts about the feud are widely misreported, and were so as early as 1970 in the Mick McManus Wrestling Book, which introduced the myth that the pair had fought a 1965 Cup Final Day grudge match.

In April 1962 at a televised presentation from Wembley, Pallo came to the ring apron after McManus had just defeated his opponent and challenged him to a match with £100 side stakes.  The all-action affair duly took place and was aired on Cup Final Day, ending in a fall apiece draw, with Stan Stone refereeing.  A year later, they had a rematch again on Cup Final day, McManus a lucky winner, and thereby retaining his Southern Area Welterweight title, with Lou Marco officiating.

The next four bouts all took place at the Royal Albert Hall and had no national television coverage. In 1967 McManus again claimed a controversial decision, Max Ward stopping the bout due to cuts to Pallo’s forehead.  Then in December 1972, Pallo claimed his only victory in the series, which led on to two unsuccessful 1973 challenges for McManus’s European Middleweight Championship.

Sure the pair had other encounters:  several 1950s match-ups included a 1959 televised victory for McManus in Ipswich, but the feud had not started at all at that point.  From the 1962 bout to 1967, they had only one other match, in Westbury. This lack of frequency in their encounters will astonish younger readers who would imagine that the pair would have been wrestling nightly around the land.  Even more astonishing is that in spite of the lack of in-ring action, the feud was very much alive throughout this period.

To complete the record, we point out that after the 1967 bout, Pallo and McManus fought each other a total of 17 times in the years 1967 to 1969, at a total of 11 venues, all well away from Dale Martin rings, and at venues in Scotland and Wales, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and Nottingham and Leicester.  Pallo was allowed controversial verdicts only where a return bout had already been booked at the same venue when McManus would generally triumph.

The innermost details of the feud in and out of the ring have been described clearly by Pallo himself.  We can only wonder at what McManus's version might be.  Early sixties Mr TV genuinely had a high opinion of his own status in the business.  But McManus was carving his own niche at the same time, becoming a director of Dale Martin Promotions, and living the part he created in the ring.  Unrest had just been put to bed after several years of strike threats and unionisation, and it is probable that Pallo's persistent dressing room tirades of how He would run the business and He would eventually set up his own promotion were enough to make the promoters treat him as a loose cannon.  Tellingly, in his peak years, Pallo wrestled on tv only about five times a year from 1963 to 1968, while McManus appeared more than double that.  The limited number of Pallo v McManus clashes during their feud may also have been a sign that the promoters wanted to keep a lid on this ever expanding personality.

McManus, however, was not Pallo’s only rival.  Throughout the late sixties Bobby Barnes was a regular opponent and the pair had a series of grudge matches centred mostly around venues close to the Lewisham wrestler’s home.  In tag, it was surprisingly European Welterweight Champion Alan Colbeck from Wakefield who proved Pallo’s most regular partner – until Jackie Junior appeared on the scene in 1972.

Unlike McManus, Pallo regularly faced much heavier opponents including Mike Marino, Andy Robin, and Judo Al Hayes.

When Eamonn Andrew sprang his big red book surprise in This Is Your Life, Colbeck was one of a handful of wrestlers to pay their respects, others being Steve Viedor, Les Kellett, and Mick McManus.

The Mr TV tag came after a late fifties appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, and for 6 or 8 years from 1958 he was seldom out of the limelight.  Let it not be forgotten that he used his fame for the benefit of wrestling as a whole, typically getting his Avengers co-star, Honor Blackman, to a 1964 Royal Albert Hall show when she was at the height of her Goldfinger fame, and having her presented in the ring.

By way of illustration of how times have changed and what big names our sixties heroes were, when Pallo was billed to appear at Bishops Stortford in 1964 all tickets were sold out within 3 hours of the box office opening.

Never underestimate the skill of Pallo the wrestler, and the highpoint of his "competitive" career when on 12th April 1969 he defeated Bert Royal to become only the third holder of the British Heavy Middleweight Championship.

Possibly as a result of real rivalry with Mick McManus and his fellow directors at Dale Martin Promotions, Pallo was the biggest name to break away from the dominant Joint Promotions and for a while successfully lured big stars and promoted colourful bills - "The Stars you cannot see on television" -  plenty of big names were content to follow him.

His 1985 exposé "You Grunt, I'll Groan" gives a poignant portrayal of the business difficulties he faced as a promoter.   Some within the business were disgusted at this betrayal, but in truth Jack wasn’t revealing all that much that the previous ten years hadn’t made us aware of already.  Re-reading the book  in the twenty-first century, this exposé of exposés still leaves many murky secrets of professional wrestling to reveal.  Pallo was at war with the rival promoter but still had great loyalty to his co-workers and wrestlers as a whole.

In the ring Jackie Pallo was a risk-taking athlete on the one hand (see our Feature Speciality Manoeuvres) but unsettlingly pushed believability to the limits at other times owing to his over-the-top cockiness.  We rejoiced in his sit-on back breaker and arm lever, his aeroplane spin, and his cross-shoulder backbreaker, but we winced at the regularity of his walk-outs when fans had paid top dollar to see him face bill-toppers of equal standing such as George Kidd or Masambula.

A great traveller, Jackie Pallo took the game reliably nationwide and made numerous television and stage appearances as well documented elsewhere.  This willingness to put his neck regularly on the line at wrestling venues notoriously hostile to cocky Londoners, such as Liverpool Stadium, King’s Hall Belfast and pretty much anywhere in Scotland, has been much appreciated by Heritage Members.  In fact we can scarcely remember a bad word about Jackie Pallo from fans or wrestlers on our Talk Wrestling forum.

In Wrestling Heritage's 2014 interview with Jackie Pallo Junior, we finally got to the definitive bottom of how and when the Mr. T.V. nickname started, after numerous guesses in the Talk Wrestling forum. JJ relates:  "One night when he was wrestling, MC Francis Blake introduced Dad as "one of the television wrestling stars", whereupon Dad grabbed the mike and said "Not one of, MR TV". Soon after, early in 1961, Dad appeared on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.  It was a walk-on appearance and host Don Arrol introduced him as Mr TV.   And it stuck."

Jackie Pallo died 11th February, 2006

Related article: The McManus - Pallo Feud

A Chip Off the Old Block

Jackie Pallo Jnr

For young Jack Gutteridge wrestling was the centre of life from the time of his earliest memories. Inevitable really, 

because his dad was one of the most famous men in British wrestling, Jackie MrTV Pallo. Mother Trixie called the two men in her life Big Jack and Little Jack, the JJ tag was a purely wrestling invention suggested by American Ricky  Starr.

For the Gutteridge family wrestling was very much a family affair, with MrTv's wife, Trixie, often seen at ringside, and Jackie Junior accompanying his dad to matches from a young age. Wrestling was a family affair.

Trixie was our First Lady of Heritage wrestling for her contribution  over many years, both by making the ever more outlandish gowns of her boys, and principally through her ongoing ringside presence. Anyone that knew Jackie, knew Trixie and Junior. The Ring-a-Long with the Pallos disc featured the whole family.Family holidays became a part of dad's wrestling commitments on the Continent as work and leisure merged into one.  

Following dad into the wrestling might have seemed an inevitable step, but it wasn't Jackie Junior's first choice of career. His first love was another kind of theatre, and Jackie started out as an Assistant Stage Manager, working with Bob Monkhouse, Dickie Henderson, and Brian Rix. It was a life he loved, but the money wasn't great and the future was uncertain. Not often has anyone chosen to enter wrestling because it offered a more secure future, but that was the decision made by Jack Junior.

Dad was supportive, of course, proud that his son wanted to follow in the family business, but, was insistent that he went about it in the right way. If young Jack was going to use the Pallo name he would need to learn to do the job properly. Junior wasn't going to coast along on a reputation painfully built up by Senior over many years. Little Jack had learnt the rudiments in dad's garage gym, but that wasn't enough for a real wrestler.  So began a year of intensive training at the Dale Martin gymnasium, working under the watchful eye of Bernard Murray and other hardened professionals, including Kendo Nagasaki. No compromises or excuses were made for young Jackie; if he wanted to wrestle he would have to learn the hard way. It was a wise, if painful, move.

In the summer of 1971 when he was considered ready to be unleashed on a receptive British public Jackie worked initially alongside Jackie Senior in tag matches. That was dad's idea to guide his son, and keep a protective eye on the new arm of the family business. On 21st June Pallo the younger made his professional debut and stepped into the ring at the Music Hall, Shrewsbury, alongside his father. In the opposite corner were the Dennisons. Three villains and a blue eyed newcomer. Fans took to the uncertain youngster, Senior was the proud father and  the Dennisons did the decent thing, working towards disqualification.

Jackie Junior had one of the hardest acts imaginable to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious father. Talk about walking in the shadow of a mountain. It was a mountain for Jackie to climb to establish his own personality in the ring which he did with a contrasting, less bombastic style from his illustrious dad.

JJ may have had his father's looks but his temperament was a contrast to the arrogant persona of Jackie Senior. Young Jackie's presence had a profound impact on Senior and it was inevitable the man we booed and jeered would have to mellow. No longer could he be quite so bombastic and boastful. Now he was a man with responsibilities, the protective dad.

It was a baptism of fire for Jackie Junior. His famous father put him in the limelight from the beginning; there were no easy matches away from the inquisitive fans. The Dennisons, The Sepia Set, The Magyars and the Royals were early opponents. A balance had to be kept between tag matches, where Jackie was supported by a protective father, and singles matches which allowed him to demonstrate what he had learned from Bernard Murray. Al Miquet, Jon Cortez and Micky Sullivan were great opponents, though Leon Fortuna and Ironfist Clive Myers were also amongst his most regular opposition.

It was instant success. The one team missing from the list of opponents facing Pallo and Son was, understandably, Jackie Senior's arch rival, Mick McManus and partner Steve Logan. The emergence of Jackie Jnr re-energised the Pallo-McManus rivalry. For all concerned this was to be a match made in heaven, revitalising the rivalry between the two Londoners. Mick played his part by forever making threats about what he and his partner would do to Pallo and son.

Inevitably the match was finally made and only one venue would do for “the tag match the wrestling world has been waiting for,” the Royal Albert Hall, London.

It was 31st May, 1972.  JJ Pallo, less than two years into the business, was set to top the bill in the most prestigious of venues, with a supporting cast that included a British heavyweight championship match, Kendo Nagasaki, Brian Maxine and Adrian Street. Not surprisingly Jackie was very nervous before the contest and that night at the Royal Albert Hall remained forever the highlight of his career, the only regret being that as the only good guy in the ring he didn't manage to get himself disqualified – that would have really got the crowd going!

All was going well for young Jackie. He had been accepted by colleagues, was a popular and rising star with the fans; but circumstances were about to change the direction of the course of events. To the fans JJ was a younger, more likeable, version of Jackie Senior. He seemed destined to go on and fill his father's boots and become one of the top stars of wrestling in the final quarter of the twentieth century.

But wrestling was changing. The old time promoters, Morrell, Beresford, Green, Wright, Best, Jack Dale and Les Martin were no longer around. A new breed were taking over, attendances were on the decline and many of the seasoned pros were leaving the business. In his book, “You Grunt, I'll Groan” Jackie Senior admits that his wider show business commitments caused tensions with the wrestling promoters, but it was the barriers seemingly placed for Pallo Senior's This Is Your Life appearance that caused the final break. JJ worked closely with the tv people to prepare the story for This Is Your Life and was shocked when Dale Martin promotions suddenly switched Jackie's booking at Croydon to Aberdeen, forcing the programme to be jeopardised. Eventually the programme was re-arranged, but the damage had been done.

Oblivious to the background goings on Jackie Senior was less troubled than JJ, who was furious. For JJ this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Despite decades in the business, and a top of the bill star for twenty years, he was appalled at the way his father was being treated by the management. The confidence of youth … JJ was the driving force that led to him and his father breaking away from Joint Promotions, Pallo Enterprises were in business.

This was a new direction for JJ. No longer was he a worker following the orders of his employer, now he was part of the management side of Pallo Enterprises, matchmaking, booking halls, sorting out the publicity. Naturally JJ and father were regular bill toppers with other famous names coming across from Joint Promotions to work with them – amongst them Ricky Starr, Les Kellett, Adrian Street, and the Borg twins. For a short time JJ wrestled as masked man Solitaire until he passed the role on to his friend from school days, Steve Serene. At their height Pallo Enterprises were putting on 15 shows a week. These were probably the happiest days of JJ's professional career, working alongside his father in the family business doing a job he loved.

Of course, anyone with an interest in British wrestling knows that even the name Jackie Pallo could not prevent the decline in British wrestling. By the mid 1980s there seemed little point in carrying on and Jackie Senior began writing his book, published in 1985.

Jackie Junior packed his bags and was off to America. During the winter of 1986-7 Jackie wrestled in Florida, meeting up with one time colleague Adrian Street. He liked America, but was none too keen on the style of wrestling, though he did pursue other long term business interests.

Back in Britain the wrestling business had changed beyond recognition. Big Jack and Little Jack made one final attempt to break into the television market in 1988 with the formation of a company called Wrestling Around the World. The intention was to promote and record wrestling tournaments for sale to television companies around the world.

Buyers failed to materialise and only one show was ever recorded, featuring Johnny Kincaid, Jackie Pallo Jr, and the masked Solitaire. Lesser men would have been broken. In an earlier age Jackie Junior would have been reaching top of the bill status. By the end of the 1980s there were few bills to top, and few fans to watch. Things would never be the same again, but JJ Pallo remained optimistic, a chip off the old block, and continued wrestling until 1999.

Jackie Pallo Jr died on 10th October, 2018.

01/04/2007 Page added
01/06/2014 Addition of Jackie Pallo Jr