WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Linde Caulder


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Linde Caulder


South Shields is a long way from Antigua, and not just geographically. Now we've nothing against South Shields. It's been a popular North East of England holiday destination for years, complete with promenade, lighthouse and pier.

With a consistency rarely found in wrestling the posters proclaimed Linde Caulder a native of the Caribbean island known for  friendly people (like South Shields), sandy beaches (like South Shields), and a satisfying and enjoyable climate (oh well, you get the drift).

As was often the case the posters were not entirely accurate. Linde Caulder was born in South Shields on 9th May, 1936. The name on the birth certificate was Henry John Caulker, named after his father, a merchant seaman.

As a child he developed a keen interest in many sports, including cycling, soccer, boxing  and swimming. Growing up in Tyneside it was natural that on Saturday evenings he would gravitate towards the New St James Hall in Newcastle to watch the weekly wrestling shows. Little did he imagine that one day he would be one of the stars in that ring. Linde's interest in body building led to membership of the South Shields Barbells Club. It was here that he developed his phenomenal physique,  maintained to this day more than seventy years  later. 

When he was around eighteen Linde took an interest in wrestling as a participant. He went along to see an old time wrestler called Walter McRae. Walter ran a gymnasium  in Dean Street in Newcastle city centre. It was was a primitive place underneath the railway arches. A ring would have been a luxury and training took place on mats with the concrete floor beneath, which was admittedly not uncommon at the time.. That floor made learning to fall correctly a matter of some urgency. This was where Henry Caulker learned his trade.

Like all young men Henry was required to complete two years national service. Shortly afterwards he turned professional wrestler and Linde Caulder from Antigua came into existence. Just when and where he made his debut we cannot confirm, but 1958 would not be far out. Our earliest find is in November, 1958, an independent promoter's show in Cardiff wrestling Peter Rann.  Right from the start Linde received bookings most nights of the week and travelled the length and breadth of Britain working for the main independent promoters Paul Lincoln, Jack Jefferson, Cape, Tommy Whelan, Devereux and Jack Taylor. At that time some of the country's best lighter men, such as George Kidd, Eric Sands, Frankie Hughes and Eddie Capelli were working for the independents and Linde gained a great deal of experience in a short time. Working with the independents gave him the opportunity to make frequent wrestling visits to France and Spain.

By the end of 1962 Linde had been noticed by Joint Promotions and was working in their rings. Linde's big night came shortly afterwards, and was probably to remain the highlight of his entire career. In May, 1963 Linde was selected to wrestle at the Royal Albert Hall in a televised tournament. If that wasn't enough his opponent was none other than Mick McManus and this was wrestling's night of the decade, possibly all time, when Royalty, in the form of HRH Prince Philip, took up a ringside seat.

Whilst there was no surprise at the choice of McManus at this illustrious occasion Linde's seclection was a surprise choice of opponent. Unsurprising drama was created by Caulder out-manoeuvring McManus and taking the opening fall in the second round. The predictable knock-out win for the Londoner came in the following round. 

After that night Linde must have felt he had made it. As indeed he had if the measure is bookings and popularity. Yet like all lighter men he was destined to remain in a mostly supporting role, reaching that glass ceiling of heavyweight bias, outlandish gimmicks and office bookers that protected star names such as McManus and Pallo.

None of which can take anything away from the enjoyment Linde gave to the fans who paid his wages. Over the next seven years Linde appeared on television more than twenty-five times with Alan Colbeck, George Kidd and Jack Dempsey amongst his opponents.

In November, 1966 Linde was one of eight wrestlers selected for the televised elimination tournament to anoint a new British welterweight champion following Jack Dempsey's temporary retirement. In the quarter final Linde defeated Welsh champion Adrian Street. In the semi-final he was beaten by the eventual champion, Alan Serjeant.

For the remainder of the decade Linde continued to entertain fans, mostly in supporting bouts but more than capable of stepping up to Main Event status when matched against the likes of Pallo and McManus. He was described by the press as "The Perfect Wrestling Machine" and it would be hard to disagree as here was a wrestler that combined skill, agility, flair and strength. In tag matches he is remembered for his partnership with Johnny Kwango and Leon Fortuna.

At the end of 1972 Linde Caulder disappeared from our rings. So many of our favourites drifted away unheralded.  Unknown to wrestling fans at the time Linde was moving on to another stage of his life, emigrating to Canada.

In Canada Linde continued to wrestle for a short time, but his serious interest lay in the return to his first love of physical culture. From the mid 1970s until the early twentieth century Linde was one of the outstanding body builders in North America, winning the IFBB North American title in 1977, taking 2nd and 3rd place in the CBBF Canadian Championships of 1977 and 1978 respectively, and 2nd and 3rd in the IFBB Mr International  championships of 1980 and 1981.  

At the time of adding this tribute we believe Linde is still pumping iron at his home in Kelowna,  British Columbia, Canada.

Page added 09/05/2021