C: Jon Cortez, Peter Cortez

Jon and Peter

The Co rtez Brothers

A flip over the top rope and landing lightly on their feet was all it took for the fans to know what they were in for – speed, vitality, action, a dynamic and exciting wrestling bout. And that's what they got every time, whether it was Jon or Peter in solo action or the pair of them  in the fastest tag team in the country. Two lightweights of the 1960s, Jon was a few pounds lighter than his brother, and must have been one of the lightest lightweights in the country. Consequently most of their matches were against heavier opponents, the Borg twins being a notable exception.  Such was the speed and technical ability of the two brothers from London that giving weight away was of little consequence. They had exciting, closely fought matches with all the top teams, amongst them the Royal brothers, McManus and Logan, Hells Angels, Black Diamonds and the Dennisons.

Both were born in wartime Britain with Peter the eldest and less than two years between the brothers. Their careers followed a similar path for the first ten years. Their amateur training was at the United Amateur Wrestling Club in Brixton, following which they turned professional around the same time in 1959,  working for the independent promoters. We have uncovered a few early matches with Jon billed as Jimmy James (confusingly, a northern wrestler had the same name).  Peter's career had a stuttering start as he was called up for two years national service, that slight age gap saved Jon from that fate. Although our earliest sighting of Jon was a 1959 outing for promoter Jack Taylor the two brothers will be forever associated with promoter Paul Lincoln. When Lincoln assembled an assortment of wrestlers to include on his wrestling programmes Jon and Peter Cortez were to play a leading role. They were certainly a contrast to the colourful characters that Lincoln often relied on, but the brothers played an important role in Lincoln's promotional success. Working for Paul Lincoln they were in regular combat with Zoltan Boscik, Johnny Williams, Bobby Barnes and Leon Fortuna. In 1962 Peter featured in the Paul Lincoln promotional film "The Wrestling Game," which included sequences from his match with Zoltan Boscik.   We were surprised to read reports of the two Spanish brothers (that was no surprise) being "hot headed" and arousing the ire of the fans. By the time we watched them in Joint Promotion halls they could do no wrong. 

That move across to Joint Promotion rings came sooner than for most Lincoln men. Dale Martin Promotions could see potential in the two boys and signed them up in 1964.

1964 also brought national exposure. Peter was the first to be given his tv debut, but with Mick McManus in the opposite corner he was given no favours. The following month Jon was given an easier ride with Stefan Milla as his opponent. The two brothers were to become popular with television audiences, with around 70 of Jon's matches shown on ITV, fewer for Peter due to his shortened career. Jon was a winner of the ITV Cloak of Gold awarded to The Wrestler of the Month chosen by readers of the TV Times magazine.

December 1964 was also the month that Jon was given his biggest booking to date, a night at the Royal Albert Hall and a win over visiting Spaniard Vincente Castella. The two brothers were to have numerous big nights at the Albert Hall.  Although both were popular and very talented Jon did tend to overshadow his older brother. Fellow wrestler Adrian Street said of Jon: "Jon had a great appearance, wrestling knowledge and ability, skill, agility, timing and ring psychology second to none."  Nevertheless, just about every descriptor of lightweight favourite Jon could equally be applied to  Peter.

The tag pairing was cut short when Peter moved to Australia in 1972. Jon went on to gain equal, if not greater success, as one half of the Jet Set, partnering Al Miquet.  

Whilst it is not unusual for a wrestler's career to span twenty-five or thirty years the last ten years or so are often a continuation of the old routines, looking increasingly tired and requiring little effort.

In this respect Jon Cortez stood out from the crowd. His wrestling style continued to develop during the entire thirty years or so of his career. For us he will always be the lightning fast lightweight who zipped over the top rope and bewildered us with his speed. For a later generation he became a  more mature, rounded, harder edged fighter. Whilst fans of the sixties still talk about Jon Cortez with Zolly Boscik, Jim Breaks and George Kidd those of a later generation discuss his classical 1980s encounters with Hurricane Keith Haward.  This must have been one of the most repeated matches of the time – classical British wrestling at it's best.

Page added 04/07/2021

Reviewed 25/06/22