L: London - Lyons
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Born in West Hartlepool as John George Harper he took his ring name from Jack London, an American author, and made his professional boxing debut in January, 1931. Said to have never been a stylish fighter, and not one of the crowd’s favourites London did box some quality international opponents with some success. In September, 1944, he outpointed Freddie Mills to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight championship. He lost the title in July, 1945, knocked out by Bruce Woodcock.
Jack London fought his last boxing match in 1949. Three years later he was back in the ring; a wrestling ring this time, and fought a number of boxer v wrestler contests in 1952. This adventure lasted for only a short time until the ex boxer took up club management, re-locating to Blackpool where he had been based whilst serving in the army. He was the father of another British heavyweight champion, Brian London.
Chris Londos (Also known as Young Londos)
A young Chris Londos emerged onto the British wrestling scene in the mid 1930s, and he was set to become a permanent fixture in British and European rings for more than twenty years. His clever, scientific style made him a popular figure in Britain and continental Europe. Nephew of American World Heavyweight Champion Jim Londos newcomer Chris had the sort of youthful appearance and athletic build that led to an inevitable billing as “Young Londos, the Modern Hercules.”
Initially facing other preliminary workers the calibre of Chris's opponents had increased dramatically by the late 1930s when he was in combat with the best wrestlers of the day – Harold Angus, Norman Morrell and Jack Dale. A report of a contest with Harold Angus in 1938 shows just how the youngster had progressed in such a short time. Inevitably appearances were severely curtailed during the war years until Chris re-emerged against the best of the post war welterweights, Jack Dempsey, Cliff Beaumont and Alan Colbeck.
By the early 1950s Chris was recognised as European welterweight champion until narrowly losing it to British champion Alan Colbeck in December, 1951. Londos was leading the British champion until an unfortunate back injury robbed him of the belt. A good man could not be kept down, and in the return contest, again at Dundee's Caird Hall, Londos took the title for a second time when newspapers reported him “A worthy winner.” Amongst his Royal Albert Hall matches are included a win over Mick McManus in April, 1953, an Atholl Oakeley Promotion. Following that he began working exclusively for Joint Promotions, usually Dale Martin, and returned to the Royal Albert Hall in 1956 to defeat Cyril Knowles. He faded from the British wrestling scene a couple of years later.
As an aside we can tell you that Chris's famous uncle, Jim Londos, was also born Christos, and in his early career was also known as Chris Londos.
George Longdon (Also known as Harry Longdon)
Nottingham's George Longdon trained under Jack Taylor. He was a very fit and muscular heavyweight. Brave too. Another of Taylor's wrestlers, Al Tarzo, told us of the night that Bert Assirati's opponent refused to go in with the Islington Hercules. “Harry volunteered to go on and saved the day for Jack. After the fight the dressing room door opened and George walked in. His nose was flat on his face which was covered in blood. His first words were "I conthider that an honour to have fought Bert Atherati.", He really meant it but his injuries meant he was unable to say it.”
Les Lonsdale trained with Dave Parfait and wrestled mainly in the North East from 1973 and into the 1980s, working for promoters Cyril Knowles, Don Robinson, and George deRelwyskow amongst others.
Dennis Lord has swapped the world of weird and colourful characters of the wrestling ring with the equally weird and colourful characters of his 007 roadshow, which features Bond movie lookalikes available for hire. Dennis hadn’t planned a life as a professional wrestler, nor as the lookalike Bond villain Jaws come to that. Events just seemed to transpire which brought him to work in Ron Taylor’s wrestling booth. It was a demanding start to a wrestling career, taking on challengers from around the country, numerous bouts a night and never being quite sure what lay around the corner. He was in good company, learning the trade alongside Big Pat Roach amongst others, and has many happy memories of those early days. With experience under his belt Dennis was persuaded to try his hand in the professional ring, a career that was to last the best part of a decade. He was an immediate success and soon began to gain regular work on the independent circuit. Fans loved him in fast, technical bouts, but seemed to like it even more when he gave away weight to tackle some of the best villains on the independent circuit, the Wildman of Borneo, Klondyke Bill and Doctor Death amongst them. Stardom always seemed on the horizon, but Dennis’ aspirations were shattered when a serious road accident in 1976 brought a sudden end to his wrestling career. By now wrestling was in his blood and when Dennis recovered he returned to the business as a promoter, putting on quality shows around the country. Invariably crowds began to fall away, a sign of the times, and Dennis re-considered his business opportunities. He decided to move further into the entertainment business, assembling a group of characters you’d probably prefer not to meet on a dark night, and started an 007 roadshow of Bond lookalikes.
Leicestershire villain came onto the scene in the late 1970s. A man who dressed to impress, adorned in leathers and studs as one half of the Rockers tag team alongside Pete Lapaque. They were everything that the Royal Brothers were not, and consequently the fans booed and jeered them, usually towards disqualification.
Villainy did not make Tommy and his partner and less popular and they became well known nationwide as they made almost a dozen television appearances in the 1980s.
Tragedy struck in 1986. Returning from a show in Holmbeach Tommy and tag partner Pete were involved in a serious car crash. Pete suffered serious injuries and Tommy was killed.
Visiting Panamanian heavyweight during 1970-71 certainly looked the part but had a mixed bag of results against top British stars. Went down to Tibor Szakacs, as most did, wins over Johnny Czeslaw, Bobby Graham and Mike Powers, but often came unstuck against fully blown heavies of distinction such as Albert Wall, Steve Veidor, Gwyn Davies and Bruno Elrington. Challenged Mike Marino for the World mid heavyweight belt, losing by two straight falls in Halifax.
Paul Luty (Also known as Nobby Garside)
The bruising 1960s Yorkshire heavyweight could work a crowd, regularly wrestled throughout Britain and Europe but never made it to the top of the bill status. We remember the blond haired leotarded grappler as a good villain who specialised in skulduggery and thuggery, much to the delight of the fans. He capitalised on his wrestling fame and successfully found roles in television sitcoms and films, mostly remembered for his role as club steward Nobby Garside in the "Love Thy Neighbour" comedy. "Love Thy Neighbour," now deemed politically incorrect, was at the time one of Britain's leading situation comedies. Luty found his way from wrestling into acting through actor and writer. Colin Welland, who gave him his first acting role in "Kisses at 50." In a moment of fiction turning into reality the promoter Max Crabtree had the bright idea of re-naming wrestler Luty as Nobby Garside, his fictional television character.
Brighton’s “Tattooed Terror” Ray Luxford was a trainer, wrestler and promoter. A tv fans from the early days of tv wrestling he aspired to be like the men he watched on the box. He started working professionally in 1963, in the halls of Wythenshaw Promotions and various other independent promoters and on the fairground booths. In 1966 we found him working for Dale Martin Promotions. Trained alongside his longtime friend Ricky Silver by Bert Assirati and latterly by Reg Cooper (father of wrestler Barry Cooper). During his career Ray wrestled some of the big names, including Adrian Street, Bob Kirkwood and Jackie Pallo. He put on his own shows in southern England and trained numerous young professionals. Ray also adopted the persona of villainous masked man Black Panther, complete with an unusual walk to mislead the fans.
In the 1950s Duke Lynch was a useful wrestler working around the north of England, a win over Arthur Beaumont at Belle Vue gives testimony to that. Heritage member Ray Noble asked, “What happened to Duke Lynch? I used to see see him at Manchester School of Building in the 50s when he was an apprentice bricklayer and I was an apprentice plumber. We called him slim but not to his face. The last time I saw him wrestle was at the Whaley Bridge Drill Hall about 1957.” We do know that Duke moved across to the independents in 1957 and our last recorded match for him is in Wolverhampton in 1961.
Page revised 14/12/2020 Jim Londos added
31/05/2020 Lolita Loren added
19/01/2020: Ray Luxford entry updated.