WRESTLING HERITAGE

S: Johnny South


Johnny South


Johnny Southern, Legend of Doom


In the late 1960s Wryton Promotions went scouting for new talent to boost audiences which had gone into slight decline from the mid 1960s peak. Johnny Saint, Al Marquette, Bill Connors were among those poached from the independent promoters. Another was Salford's Johnny South. Johnny had a harder edge, the sort of style that woke up the fans. Wrestling fan Main Mask told us, "I really liked his rugged style of wrestling, hard-hitting and solid that always made for my type of bout!"


Having trained at Barton Athletic Club Johnny had around four years experience when Martin Conroy tempted him across to Joint Promotions, having worked previously for promoters like Don Robinson, Grant Foderingham, and Jack Cassidy against fellow middleweights Ian Wilson, Brendan Moriarty and Eddie Rose. In July 1969 he entered Joint Promotion rings and showed that he could stand up against more high profile names like Linde Caulder and Colin Joynson.


Television exposure came his way in October, 1970, a rather gritty battle with the temperamental Hippy Bob Anderson ending with a win for Johnny. Wryton Promotions were less kind for his next outing. Wonderboy Steve Wright was the opponent this time from Bolton's Wryton Stadium. Now let's not take anything away from Steve Wright; he was a talented, skilfull and agile wrestler who excited us at the time. The stark reality was that he was being given a big push as one of the bright young kids on the block. There was no way this could end well for Johnny South. This was the start of around twenty ITV wrestling appearances right up to 1988, with opponents that included Iron Man Steve Logan, Les Kellett and Count Bartelli. Life was never easy.


Johnny was a prolific worker for all the northern promoters, but mostly Wryton, which left time for only the occasional jaunt south of Worcester.


He formed a good tag partnership with fellow Salfordian Paul Mitchell. They called themselves The Broughton Rangers, bringing fame and glory to the suburb of Salford. The original Broughton Rangers were a rugby union club, founded in 1877, later to become a rugby league club and one of the founder members of the Northern Rugby Union (forerunner of the Rugby League) in 1895.


By the time ITV dropped wrestling from their schedules Johnny South was working simultaneously for independent promoters and his link with Orig Williams in particular led to television exposure that at least equalled his ITV success with appearances on Screensport and the S4C Welsh language channel in their Reslo programme. By that time he had long since filled out from the middleweight we had watched in the 1970s and was now holding his own with the big boys, as noted in his Screensport encounter with Big John Quinn and Reslo matching with Tony St Clair.


In the 1990s he worked overseas and in Britain with a new identity, the Legend of Doom, a ring crusader eradicating the villains of the ring.


The end of the road came in 2005, around forty years after making his debut. He was inducted into the British Wrestlers Reunion Hall of Fame in August, 2019.

Page added 24/07/2022