British wrestling history 

K: Ketchell - Khan


Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Leon Ketchell

Poland's Leon Ketchell. Leon Grabowski to give him his birth name, was a big man, claiming to be 7'2" tall, but that seems to be  on the generous side.  We find him reported in the British press from 1935 onwards, said to be  a professional wrestler in Poland.  He came to Britain to improve his boxing skills, going on to the United States for a short lived boxing career. Claims of seventeen fights seem unsubstantiated, with www.boxingrec.com listing only one match.   His wrestling in Britain seems to have been limited to December 1936 and January, 1937.


Half Nelson Keys

Fred Keys was a prolific star of the 1930s rings, wrestling up and down the country against the likes of Len Franklin, Carver Doone, Atholl Oakeley, and Bulldog Bill Garnon, and all went down to Keys at one time or another. Admittedly, Half Nelson's results were a mixed bag, but he was definitely one of the busiest workers of the period. Acknowledged for his strength he was labelled "The Hendon Hercules," and tipped the scales at around seventeen stones. He was a significant part of the British wrestling scene from the start of the 1930 wrestling revival, with an impressive draw against Bill Garnon at Belle Vue, Manchester, in January, 1931. This was a powerful man who could beat the best of them all. the 1930s wrestling scene.

Ghalib Khan (Also known as The Great Khan)

We saw Ghalib Khan only once, an independent show in the 1960s when he defeated a bruiser (who we also never saw or heard of again) by the name of Killer John Dillinger. 

Well the Killer just wasn't, but we do recall Ghalib as a muscular giant of a man with the more imposing presence of the two men in the ring. With his powerful physique it was natural his style relied heavily on strength holds; he was a very strong, which was just as well for the sake of his companions in the photograph.

We later learned that Ghalib (sometimes The Great) Khan combined his 1960s wrestling career with that of a butcher in Pearson Street, Bradford. He stood 6'5" tall, weighed around 19 stones and was immensely strong. 

Ghalib Khan passed away in December, 2008, aged 84, following which his body was transported to Pakistan for burial.

Iska Khan 

Barefoot Mongolian heavyweight who visited Britain annually 1955 to 1962, probably from a Parisian base.  His Royal Albert Hall victims included Portz, Hayes, Garfield and Apollon;  he only lost there twice, once to Mike Marino and once when clear he wasn't returning, to Wild Ian Campbell.  

Dave Sutherland recalls 1962 controversy in his televised k.o. defeat of Johnny Yearsley.  James Morton recalls him being billed as The Wall of China in France.  In the sixties and seventies he appeared in French movies, right.   He was the featured wrestler in the BBC's 1962 Grandstand Sports Book (thanks Palais Fan).  And in the same year he was the key featured wrestler in a TV Times full spread article on dancing wrestlers,  in which Ski Hi Lee and Wild Ian Campbell were also photographed.

Away from the ring he appeared in a number of French language  films, specialising in the role of Oriental villains

Not to be confused with a moustachioed 80s Blackpool wrestler known by the same name.