M: Manto - Mariani
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Frank Manto (Frank Mantovitch)
Barnsley heavyweight Frank Manterfield was the younger brother of Bert Mansfield, and like brother was destined to become one of Britain's top heavyweights, using the name Frank Manto. Frank was born in Monk Bretton seven years after his brother.
He came into wrestling around 1940, following a short stint in the boxing ring. He established himself against the likes of Cordite Conroy, Billy Riley, Dick Wills and Karl Reginsky. Frank was a busy worker, mostly in the north of England, throughout the 1940s.
In the early 1950s he began working for Atholl Oakeley. Oakeley was attempting to re-establish his wrestling promotions through high profile tournaments at Harringay Stadium. Frank became a mainstay of Oakeley's tournaments and Oakeley said of him in Blue Blood On The Mat, "I saw at once that here was the post-war British heavyweight whom I had been looking for....Most weightlifters only think they are strong, and so they are for thirty seconds at a time. But the work this man has to do, which consisted of heaving coal from the pitface for hour after hour, would have given all the weightlifters I knew a coronary."
Working for Oakeley Manto won the British heavyweight championship and challenged for the European championship. He had high profile matches against Ed Don Virag, Jack London, Alex Cadier, Mario Matassa and Rudy Redvern.
In 1954 Oakeley abandoned attempts to re-establish himself as one of the country's top promoters. With his disappearance as a promoter wrestling fans had the loss of seeing the disappearance of the near fifty year old Frank Manto.
Another from the famous Barnsley clan who came onto the scene in the early 1950s, considerably lighter than his famous father and uncle, Derrick Manterfield was the son of Frank Manto. He worked in British rings, sometimes for Atholl Oakeley, during the 1950s.
The hugely popular Greek lightweight champion made his first visit to Britain in 1960 for the independent promoters. Now stop right there those of you that still undervalue the independents. How can you after everything you have read on Wrestling Heritage? In those days working for the independents were class acts that included George Kidd, Eddie Capelli and Eric Sands, and developing stars Zoltan Boscik, Jon Cortez and Peter Rann. All were opponents of the young Greek who visited our shores, with some spectacular matches against Kidd and Joyce around the south of England.
In December 1961 Dale Martin realised what they were missing out on and brought the flashy high flying lightweight over to Joint Promotions. A Royal Albert Hall debut followed in January 1962 with a win over Jim Breaks, though a 1963 outing against Mick McManus at the Kensington venue was less rewarding. For the Greek.
Vassilios remained a regular fixture in British rings until 1965. He made further short tours in April 1969, dutifully going down to Jackie Pallo at the Royal Albert Hall, and returned to the same glamorous venue in May 1971 to partner Monsieur Montreal and draw with the Hells Angels.
We have ten matches recorded for this heavyweight between June and October, 1946, all of them at Belle Vue, Manchester. Opponents included Charlie Green, Sonny Wallis and Ernie Baldwin.
See the entry for John Savage
See the entry for Ron Marino