WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C:John Cox


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Mighty John Cox


Big John Cox, now there's a man remembered with fondness. Nineteen stones, surprisingly nimble, forever hovering around the division one names of Wall, Davies and Nagasaki, and certainly giving them a fright on many occasions and a defeat on a few. Even Nagasaki, the invincible one, is reported  to have been felled, literally by Big John. It was 15th October, 1966, and results listings compiled by fans list a knock out, or technical knock out win for John, though we have been unable to verify this. One of Nagasaki's most knowledgeable fans, NagasakiGoldthorne told us that John was quite a threat to Nagasaki in the mid 1960s. In 1966 he had results of the two meeting on numerous occasions with Kendo winning at least ten times, several draws and inconclusive finishes, and the win for John by a knock out on 15th October at Hanley.

Another fan was Dave Sutherland, "John Cox was by far the most friendly and approachable wrestler that I have encountered. Right from the first time I saw him, in a tag with Earnest Baldwin against Leon Arras and Tommy Kilmartin, he always had time to sign an autograph or stop for a word with the fans or us lowly St James Hall staff."

Should one of John's opponents suffer an injury there was always a man close at hand to take care of him. That's because John was a paramedic, a public service career of forty years no less, that spanned both sides of his very successful wrestling career.  John's interest in wrestling began when he served as a first aid volunteer at the SS Empire shows in York. After getting involved in martial arts through judo  John Cox trained as an amateur wrestler at the Tingley Amateur Wrestling Club as an apprentice of former heavyweight champion, Ernie Baldwin. 

John Cox turned professional in the early 1960s, initially for northern promoters Morrell and Beresford. We have been told that his first pro match came  in October 1962, against fellow Yorkshireman Jim Armstrong, at Grantham. Two more contests quickly followed, against Jesse Hodgson and Ken Manning. By then John realised that if he was serious about wrestling he needed to learn a lot more, and so he took a break of about a year whilst he really learned the business. 

He returned on a part time basis in October, 1963 and  devoted his full time to the sport from 1965 until he returned to part time wrestling and ambulance driving in 1970. It was during those five years that John made his biggest impact against the top heavies, including those still discussed matches with Kendo Nagasaki. He took the opportunity to travel extensively in Europe, the Middle East and Japan. We can't help but wonder that if he had devoted his life to wrestling just what might have been. 

He was a familar figure to armchair fans, with almost fifty televised appearances between 1964 and 1986. A Gogglebox Hero he was once described as, and we wouldn't argue with that. Television opponents included top men Count Bartelli, Tibor Szakacs, The Outlaw, Geoff Portz, Mike Marino, Bill Howes ... the list goes on and on; the promoters did Mighty John no favours. Indeed, on that television debut in March, 1964, Norman Morrell matched him with Bill Robinson. Plucky he was, but went down by two straight falls.

As a paramedic John provided assistance in a number of major incidents. On one occasion he was airlifted by the RAF from Pocklington to Lockerbie to assist with the Lockerbie air disaster. 

Following his retirement from John Cox was involved in local politics as an independent councillor for many years. 

Page added 30/05/2021