British wrestling history 

J: James - Jones

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Eddie James

Popular northerner (billed from either Rotherham or Newcastle) Eddie James began his professional wrestling life in the independent rings around 1960 facing the likes of Alan Sergeant, Pedro the Gypsy and Brian Maxine. In 1965 he transferred to Joint Promotions, although our records show him working only for Relwyskow and Green Promotions. He made it to the back cover of The Wrestler magazine (alongside tag partner Ron Davis) in January 1967.

Jimmy James (Manchester)

Jimmy James was a wrestler working for independent promoters in the north of England in the late 1950s. Opponents included Johnny Mack, Red Callaghan, Monty Swann and Tommy Bailey. His career was cut short when he was killed in a car crash at Shotton. A memorial show in his honour was held at Ellesmere Port in 1962. See also the entry for Jon Cortez.

Mick James (Also known as Mike Jackson)

In the latter half of the 1960s Mike James (who also wrestled as Mick Jackson) seemed to be just about everywhere, well in the North and Scotland he seemed everywhere at least. A popular welterweight ho was a regular worker on Morrell and Beresford bills and seemed to have a very bright future. Hardly surprising as the young Leeds based wrestler was trained by erstwhile British champions Eric Taylor and Ernie Baldwin at Jack Lanes Wrestling Club in Leeds . His professional debut followed four years in the amateur ranks. Fast and  skilled we thought he was really going places, but lost sight of him in the early 1970s.

Akala Jan
Born in Calcutta , Jan wrestled in India before she came with her family to Scotland. Her first appearance in Britain  was for Ace Promotions when  in May 1975 at Pudsey Civic Centre she was in a mixed tag contest partnering Billy Donnegan against Sue Brittain and Mike Demain  losing by straight falls.

In  November 1957 in   Bradford   she defeated Sue Brittain, a regular opponent, for the BWA title losing it to Brittain  ten days  later in Huddersfield.

Throughout her career she worked across the country in singles, tag, mixed tag and no rules contests .  After a short retirement, in the 1980s she again worked regularly with Brittain who was by now Lady Satan.

Known as a good and loyal worker whose speciality was a nerve hold and who could brawl with the best,  Jan died after a stroke following routine surgery in 2005. She was fifty-eight years old.
Contributed by James Morton

Carl Jason (Also known as Carl McGrath)

Carl Jason (the family name is McGrath)  is a Merseyside wrestler who trained at Crosby Amateur Wrestling Club before turning professional in 1972. His career endured into the 1990s, though his involvement in training youngsters endured much longer and only a few years ago we heard he was still teaching wrestling on his summertime return visits to Britain from his home in Spain.  

Alf Jenkins (Also known as Jimmy Johnson)

One of the pre war wrestlers of the All-In style Alf Jenkins began appearing on northern bills in 1938. Alf was the first professional opponent of Wigan maestro Jack Dempsey in Belfast on 19th July, 1946. In the months and years following the war  Jenkins became a regular feature on bills in the North and Midlands, wrestling the likes of Tommy Nelson and Tommy Demon. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he could be seen regularly at “The Bloodtub,” formally known as the Ardwick Stadium, Manchester. We also have record of Alf using the name Jimmy ,Johnson in the 1950s, always in Ramsgate and Margate. He was  certainly a man who knew what he was doing, with wins over Mel Riss and Carlton Smith, and draws against George Kidd and Bob Archer O'Brien.

Taffy Jenkins

Leicester's John Taffy Jenkins was one of the youngest wrestlers in the country when he began wrestling professionally in 1962. That first bout was against his friend Mick Collins, and both youngsters had been trained by Jack Taylor, wrestler and owner of International Promotions. He was just 14 years old at the time, and Jack Taylor put on a schoolboy match between John and Mick Collins in the cavernous Granby Halls, Leicester.  John and Mick didn't receive any pay for that match but he recalled to us that  they both benefited from the coins thrown into the ring by appreciative fans.

In the two years that followed Taffy and Mick travelled the country with Jack Taylor learning the trade and putting on their bout as much as five or six times a week., ”In the meantime we had both left school and were working for Jack travelling around the country putting up the rings and wrestling at nightime,taking down the ring and travelling home.”

As he grew in size and experience Jack put Taffy on with more experienced wrestlers, including Eddie Capelli, Ken Joyce,Cyril Knowles, Eric Sands,Reg Ray, Spike O'Reiily,Brian Maxine,Johnny Saint, and many,many more. We saw him in action for the first time in 1965, wrestling a fast and furious eight tound draw against Doncaster’s Earl McCready, who was the son of Dai Sullivan.
In his late teens Taffy  attracted the attention of Joint Promotions through an introduction by  Pete and John Lapaque. During his  time with Joint Promotions Taffy  wrestled all over the country and came up against all the top men at the time including Jackie Pallo (6 times), Pete Roberts, Rollerball Rocco,John Naylor, Marty Jones, Alan Sergeant, Catweazle, Johnny Czeslaw,Tally ho Kaye, Bert Royal, Vic Faulkner, Alan Dennison,Alan Kilby,John Kowalski and many, many more.

Never losing his love for wrestling John did become disillusioned that the promoters' respect for him as a worker did not lead to top of the bill status and took a sabbatical from wrestling during which he  joined the Leicestershire Constabulary whilst having a young wife and a new baby.  He stayed in the job for four years and  returned to the ring working for Brian Dixon.

Taffy drifted out of wrestling in the mid 1990s, but that wasn't the end of the story. He returned to the ring in 2005, and had his final match three years later, at sixty years of age!

John “Taffy” Jenkins died on 21st April, 2020 following a car crash.

Gentleman Jim
A busy worker in the 1930s Gentleman Jim was a hairdresser of Finchley, London. Born on 25th March, 1908 with the name of James Patrick Mooney. We have found him wrestling throughout the country from 1932 until 1938.

Ron Johnson
A first rate heavyweight from Hartlepool who worked on bills throughout the north from 1946 until 1961.  Ron was small as a youngster until he joined the Horden health and Strength Club. This built him up to a well proportioned, muscular teenager. He took up amateur boxing and was the middleweight champion of his station whilst serving as a P.T. instructor in the R.A.F.  On leaving the army he took up wrestling and turned professional shortly after the war. For well over a decade Ron wrestled mostly in northern England and Scotland against first rate opponents that included the likes of Billy Joyce, Francis St Clair Gregory, Eric Taylor and Billy Howes. Following his retirement he went on to become a referee in Joint Promotion rings. 

Barry Jones (Also known as Seaman Tommy Watts)
1970s Portsmouth wrestler Barry Jones was trained by Bruno Elrington alongside the Wilson brothers, one of whom he faced, and went down to,  at  the Royal Albert Hall in October 1979. Barry also used the name Seaman Tommy Watts (previously used by Mal Kirk).

Gorilla  Jones
One of the pioneers of 1930s wrestling. Advertised variously from America, South Africa, London and Wigan the frequent wrestling commitments of “The Cave Man of the Ring” suggest the latter is, unsurprisingly, closest to the mark. With a reputation of a very strong wrestler he was reported to have given class acts such as Harold Angus, Richard Wills and Jack Dale a hard time.  On  one occasion having defeated Jack Dale on falls Dale was reported to have attacked referee Phil Meader, with first Jones, and then members of the audience intervening before order was restored.
Page revised 31/05/2020 Akala Jan added