British wrestling history 

K: Kidd- Kimura


Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Johnny Kidd

Influenced and trained by the great ken Joyce we believe Johnny Kidd had the misfortune to be born a few years too late. Had British wrestling not been removed from our television screens in 1988 we are sure that Johnny Kidd would still be one of the biggest names that would be entertaining us every Saturday afternoon. His potential was apparent from his 1981 television debut, though a succession of losses against Jim Breaks, Johnny Saint, Mick McManus, his trainer Ken Joyce and others may suggest otherwise. Losing to vastly more experienced men the agility, speed and skill were always evident. Success came  only in his sixth planned appearance, a win over Blondie Barratt, quickly followed by the disappointment of the match not being broadcast. As Johnny was added to this website in 2009 he was still entertaining the public over thirty years after making his professional debut against Tony Scarlo in Salisbury. Incredibly, two years later, in 2011 Johnny made his debut in the United States when he wrestled Johnny Saint in a British rules contest. In May, 2016, Johnny announced that his fight against American Mike Quackenbush would be his last. Forty years is a long time in wrestling, and we have a lot for which to thank Johnny Kidd.

Dave Kidney

When the name Dave Kidney came to national prominence we were as surprised as anyone. Questions were asked on internet forums as to, “Who is Dave Kidney?” The question arose when, in July 2009 the BBC broadcast a documentary,”Dave Kidney Superstar,” about a 78 year old wrestling grandfather. A bit of Heritage digging discovered that Dave did have a wrestling history.  Born in 1930 in Dundee Dave began his wrestling training when he was nine years old and joined the Northend Club in Dundee, the same club that trained George Kidd.  Lack of entrance money did nothing to deter the youngster and he would sweep the floor and light the fire in return for his lessons. Dave turned semi professional shortly after the war, though the earliest recorded matches we have uncovered are in the 1950s.  In 1959 he defeated George Allan at the Caird Hall, Dundee, to win the BWA British Featherweight Championship which he never lost. The fight was reported in  the Dundee Courier. Although credible challengers were in short supply, and the weight division was not recognised  by Joint Promotions, Dave did defend his title around the country: Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, London and Bradford. He worked for numerous independent promoters, including Universal Promotions, Ace Sports Promotions and Jack Casey, as well as for Joint Promotions.

Jules  Kiki (Also known as The Black Owl)

When Jules Kiki descended onto the British wrestling scene in the mid 1930s he was said to be a famous Spanish bullfighter embarking on a world tour. As always with professional wrestling the truth was less romantic but no less interesting.  Kiki was not Spanish but came from an East End of London family, born Moses Mercado. on 5th October, 1911. The family had migrated to Britain from Amsterdam in the 1860s, settling in Spitalfields. 

George Isaac Mercado was a bookmaker known for many years as Captain Kiki until his death in 1930. Presumably this was the source of Moses’ wrestling name. Jules was a regular feature of the British wrestling scene from the mid 1930s until the late 1950s, adding muscles and poundage as the years passed. An imposing figure and reputed to be a skilful wrestler.  Jules  served in the Royal Air Force during the war and continued wrestling when service commitments permitted. We found him at Preston in 1940 wrestling as the Black Owl and unmasked by The Red Devil. In 1951 he sailed to South Africa where he wrestled. Around 1958 he drifted over to the independents and we last spotted him on a Paul Lincoln show in 1959. 

Jules Kiki died in 1998.

Related article: On the Trail of Jules Kiki at www.wrestlingheritage.com

Alan Kilby

Whenever wrestlers and fans meet together none are more popular than Alan Kilby. If prizes were given for longevity then the Sheffield light heavyweight  would have a sideboard full of them because his professional career  spanned over forty years. In the 1960s and 1970s Kilby was a regular on the nation's television screens, often partnering Harry Kendall, Mike Eagers or Tim Lomas in the Silent Ones tag team.  Whoever the partner Alan was a darling of the fans. He was a more than competent wrestler, who made it as British champion and did not allow his deafness to get in the way of a long and successful career.  In the 1980s Alan had a rivalry with Dave Finlay that saw the Heavy Middleweight title pass between them over a two year period. Alan then went up a weight division to light heavyweight  where he won the British championship on five occasions and retired as undefeated champion. In July 2009 Alan received  a lifetime achievement award from Birmingham’s Deaf Cultural Centre  for his work as an ambassador for the deaf community.  His son Adam has continued the families contribution to the British wrestling scene. 

Related article:  Clout Rather Than Token Placement  in Armchair Corner  at www.wrestlingheritage.com

Gordon Kilmartin (Also known as Tommy Kilmartin)

The  heavyweight from Pontefract was liked by fans and fellow wrestlers. He had the look of a bruiser and fans expected action when Gordon Kilmartin got into the ring, and they usually got it. 

Gordon was one of Charlie Glover's lads, learning the business at Charlie's gym behind the Junction Public House. We have been told that Gordon was one of the hard men of the gym, and would be called upon if any of the youngsters needed a bit of come-uppance.   

His entrance to the ring in a colourful red and gold coat belied a gritty, tenacious wrestler who knew all the moves.    Gordon boxed as an amateur going on to learn the professional trade in the boxing and wrestling booths of the north. Other sporting interests included rugby union which he pursued during his national service. It might have been fifteen years of pit work that gave him courage, but it was hard work and natural ability that gave Yorkshireman Gordon the skill to become a popular heavyweight of the 1950s and 1960s. He retired from the ring in the mid sixties and became a pub landlord at the Gardeners Arms in Pontefract.

Masahiko Kimura

A combination of judo and wrestling holds from this Japanese visitor in 1957. He was considered one of the greatest judoka of all time, becoming the youngest ever 5th degree black belt in 1938, aged just eighteen. At the Royal Albert Hall he defeated Judo Al Hayes in May 1957, returning to the Kensington venue to knock out Jim Hussey the following  October. Other British opponents included Vic Hessle, Alan Garfield, Black Butcher Johnson, Dai Sullivan and Tony Mancelli. He famously lost to Japanese legend Rikidozan and later claimed he had been double-crossed as the bout was planned to end in a draw. Masahiko Kimura died from lung cancer on 18th April, 1993.