H: Kung Fu Eddie Hamill
Occasionally a wrestler comes along who creates a real buzz of excitement amongst fans.
Such was the case when Kung Fu emerged on to the scene in 1971, though tv fans had to wait another three years before they saw the face of this masked man with a difference.
For a start, unlike most masked men he was not a heavyweight, and moreover he was a good guy!. He had speed, agility, and wrestling skill. We just weren't sure about the good looks, not until his unmasking which was not to come for some time.
Here was a hero of the fans vanquishing all before him, until his defeat (and unmasking) at the hands of Kendp Nagasaki at the Royal Albert Hall in March, 1976. One month later it was another defeat, and another unmasking, on television, in a bout against Mick McManus.
We all now knew that Kung Fu was Belfast's Eddie Hamill, a pupil of Milo's gym in the city. Born in 1943 Edwin had turned professional using the name Judo Mike Hamill following three years of training with Darkie Arnott. His father worked in the Belfast shipyards but with a judo background Eddie had his sights set on a life in wrestling. He wrestled his way around Ireland before crossing the Irish Sea, initially to work for Orig Williams and the opposition promoters. No sooner had he arrived in Rhyl Eddie was off on his first international trip to Turkey.
The transition from Judo Mike Hamill to Kung Fu came in 1971. The judo outifit adorned with a golden dragon and semi-mask concealing the upper half of his face made Kung Fu an intriguing addition to the British wrestling scene. He was an immediate success with fans in the halls and gained more popularity on television against Sid Cooper, Mark Rocco, Bert Royal and dozens of others.
His unmasking in 1974 was far from the end of his career. Like Count Bartelli before him he proved that he had the charisma and the skill to pursue a career without the mystery of his concealed identity.
Eddie continued as a highly successful wrestler and matches with Rollerball Rocco, Fit Finlay and Johnny Palance were talked about by fans long after the event. He was one of those wrestlers who didn’t need titles, but that didn’t stop him winning the British and Commonwealth Middleweight championships for short periods.
Eddie toured Canada for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling (re-acquainting himself with the mask) in 1981. Eddie was a success in Canada during his three month stay and returned the following year. Other tours included Turkey, France, Zimbabwe, Italy, Qatar and Bahrain.
With wrestling in decline and more than twenty years of giving Eddie retired from the ring around 1990 to take up work as a lifeguard with the Lifeboat Institution.
Page added 01/04/2022