WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 
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Heritage


Jock Campbell



This Mad Scot's An Englishman


Jock Campbell


(Jock Cameron, Harry Strickland, Hal Strickland)

Big, bearded and brutish Mad Jock Campbell (or Cameron if you prefer)  looked the part of a great wrestling villain, which he was. Nineteen stones and six feet tall proclaimed the publicity, and it was probably fairly accurate. He was born Harry Strickland in November, 1934 in the Lancashire seaside town of Fleetwood, and he has always returned to the Fyle coast despite travelling the world as a great British wrestling export.

Following two years national service Harry took up work as a gardener at the giant ICI factory. He'd already taken up amateur wrestling, encouraged  by Dominic Pye who lived a few miles along the coast in nearby Blackpool. Harry's interest was weight lifting, but Dominic who trained wrestlers and would shortly begin promoting his own shows, saw potential in the big, strong youngster as a wrestler.

Yet it wasn't wrestling that brought Harry to the public's attention, it was swimming. I was his strength as a swimmer that led to a moment of dramatic real life  heroism. In June, 1955, as twenty year old Harry was returning home, he saved the lives of three childen, aged six, seven and nine. The three children had been cut off by the incoming tide on Lighthouse sandbank a mile and a half from the shore. Harry found super-human strength to carry the three children simultaeneously to safety through a 400 channel of water.

Harry turned professional in the late 1950s, though our earliest finding was in 1961, a Max Crabtree show in which he defeated Ezzard Hart. By then he'd gained a couple of years experience, working for various independent promoters. In those early days he was known by the name Hal Strickland.. The name  remained on the posters until 1964, but early in the 1960s a new name appeared. Harry Strickland of Fleetwood was transformed into Jock Campbell of Inverness. It was a matter of convenience, or rather genius, as Jock Campbell was paired with his "wrestling brother," another Dominic Pye creation, Wild Angus Campbell, who had started his wrestling life as Cecil Logan.

The pair were a sensation, topping wrestling bills around the country. Often the villains, our favourite memories are of watching Angus and Jock as the heroes as they tackled the likes of Dominic and Casey Pye and The Monster and The Ghoul. On one memorable occasion Angus was fighting Dominic in a singles match. Dominic's skulduggery resulted in Angus staggering around the ring with a blood covered face. If that wasn't enough Casey Pye darted through the ropes, shoved the referee out of the way, and joined Dominic in another ferocious attack on Angus.

Such was the commotion that few fans noticed a movement from the back of the hall.  A heavily set figure emerged and hurried towards the ring.  Despite the heat inside the hall the man was wearing a thick overcoat.  He pushed his way through the crowd. It took a moment or two, but slowly a few, and then many, recognised the man and encouraged him to climb into the ring.  Here was someone who could bring justice to the night. This was Angus' wrestling brother, Jock Campbell, arriving to save Angus from further punishment.

The crowd cheered ecstatically as Jock climbed into the ring to distribute his own brand of justice. It took less than a minute for the Pye brothers to get the message and make a dash back to the safety of the dressing rooms. Jock and Angus stood centre ring to receive the acknowledgement of the fans. Angus was bloodied, the fans were jubilant and the promoter was satisfied with the prospect of a ready-made top of the bill tag match to begin the autumn season.  We never saw wrestling like this on the television.

Soon the services of Angus and Jock were called upon by European promoters. It was during this period, the mid to late 1960s, that we enjoyed watching Jock the most, though in terms of career success the best was yet to come.

In January, 1968, Jock was signed up to work for Joint Promotions, Angus preceded him by a few months. As a career move it was a big step, but as we have commented about many others, and we mean this as no disrespect, Jock now seemed less colourful and more restricted in his temperamental ways. He assumed another name, now Jock Cameron, presumably to protect the distinctiveness of their Scottish champion Ian Campbell; Angus Campbell became Wild Angus. Angus and Jock were rarely seen together as a team and it seemed that Joint Promotions struggled to find a niche for their giant Scot from Fleetwood. Nevertheless, he was in great demand by all the constituent members of Joint Promotions; as likely to be seen working in Southend on the one night and Aberdeen the next.

Nonetheless, from a career point of view this was a step up for Jock. Working for Joint Promotions meant television appearances, starting with a loss against Judo Al Hayes in a late  Wednesday night show broadcast from Croydon in December, 1968. There were no easy rides for Jock where his television appearances were concerned, with other opponents including Tobor Szakacs, Bruno Elrington, Pat Roach, Andy Robin, Mike Marino and Steve Viedor.  

It wasn't just promoters in Britain that appreciated Jock. He travelled the world, working in Canada and Japan as well as much of Europe, a number of African countries and the Middle East. Wherever he travelled he did his job well; another of our great wrestling ambassadors.

Page  added 19/01/2020