M: Mantopolous - Maximiliano
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
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.
One of his country's top wrestlers, and political activist in his native South Africa, Manie One of his country's top wrestlers, and equally famous as a political activist in his native South Africa, Manie Maritz was the son of General Gerrit Maritz who played an important role in the Boer War.
Manie visited Britain in the spring of 1948, encountering opponents that included Tony Mancelli, Flash Barker and Mike Delaney.
Gypsy Gino Marlow
Standing well over six feet tall Gino was billed as champion of the gypsies in the 1930s. Tangled with other supersized heavyweights such as Scot John Bell and Exmoor's Carver Doone. A rough and energetic fighter in one match against Jack Pye he dashed from his corner at the opening bell grabbed Pye and took the first fall in the opening seconds.
The high flying dropkick specialist from Madrid toured Britain frequently during the late 1950s and 1960s. We first discover him during a 1958 visit, working around the country against the likes of Johnny Kwango, Chic Purvey, Jack Dempsey and George Kidd. Highlight of the tour was, no doubt, an apperance at the Royal Albert Hall with Mick McManus in the opposite corner. He was back to Britain in 1960 and each year until 1967, filling out until he was tackling fully blown heavyweights. He gained nationwide admirers during his 1962 television clash with Dai Sullivan in 1962, considered unlucky by viewers to go down by the odd fall. A tall dark heavyweight with a pleasing technical style he won lots of fans even if he didn't win lots of matches.
A protege of Brian Trevors East Anglian Clive Marshall worked for both the independent and Dale Martin Promotions in the second half of the 1970s. He was followed into the wrestling business by his daughter, who wrestled as Little Lulu.
Martin Burdett was another of the Jack Taylor lads who was trained by the Accrington born promoter at his gym in Leicestershire, changing his name to the American sounding Brett Martin. Worked for the independent promoters from the mid 1960s and retired in the early 1980s.
Cast-iron Caswell turned professional in 1970. He immediately struck us with his agility and La Savate k.o. kick, and prospects looked bright of a new black star amidst his ageing peers. But Cas seemed to get stuck in a rut somewhere down the line in spite of his athleticism, still going down rather unbelievably to a limited Steve Logan in 1974, and surprisingly even for the commentator against Tom Tyrone. Whether this stifled potential was his own choice we will never know ... probably. He certainly looked capable of taking on and beating any of the top heavyweights who were around when he was.
This impression is confirmed by a far higher success rate in the principal German tournaments in the mid-seventies where he featured as one of the highest ranked foreign stars, outstripping many who enjoyed more clout in the UK. In Austria too he was winner of the 1976 Viennese All Nations Trophy, entertaining huge crowds over 40 nights. Caswell returned to Vienna to prove victory was no fluke by completing the double in 1977.
Promoters uncertainty as to how to capitalise on this great talent can be demonstrated through his near fifty television appearances. Fifty outings showed they valued him, but there was no pattern or consistency to his professional development. A tv debut against southern England heavyweight champion Judo Al Hayes was a clearly impossible task for a novice. They brought him back to shine against Ivan Penzecoff and then threw him to the lions again, well top heavyweight Steve Veidor to be precise. And so the pattern continued for the next seventeen years: Kevin Conneelly, Butts Giraud, Bob Abbots, Mike Marino. In 1983 finally a win over Steve Logan, then that loss to Tom Tyrone.
When tv wrestling ended in 1988 the final main event was between Pat Roach and Caswell Martin. Now if these two had typified wrestling in the 1980s we might still have been watching today.
Jack Martin (Also known as Al Martin, Buster Martin)
The Wrexham tearaway who rarely bothered with niceties but gave a great mid-heavyweight villain's performance unfailingly every time. Here was a man who really looked as though he wanted to win. Billed as Jack Martin in the north and Al Martin at other times, be him Jack, Al, Buster or Rough House Wrestling Heritage members have fond memories, “One of the real unsung heroes, a most convincing villain," recalled Frank Thomas. Graham Brooks: "I saw "Roughouse" Al Martin (as I recall him being billed) on various occasions and he had some great bouts with Les Kellett in particular."
He was a long time independent stalwart with a successful Joint Promotions run in the early seventies and even a couple of Royal Albert Hall appearances to his name. Another great favourite of ours.
Tagged unusually with Keith Martinelli in The Martinis, a pairing forced through by name rather than style. A regular and ideal television and halls opponent of Masambula and Les Kellett. Featured in our "Favourite" Autographs.
Heavyweight Allen Martin from Castleford in Yorkshire, was a burly 16 stoner who could certainly looke after himself in the ring. Professionally he was known as Al Martinelli and worked for independent promoters. His father, also Allen, was a referee and ring man for promoter Cyril Knowles.
Colombian heavyweight Rudo Martinez worked for Dale Martin Promotions in the autumn of 1965 with an undistinguished record against domestic opposition that included Johnny Czeslaw, Ray Fury and more powerful forces such as Gordon Nelson
The Danish heavyweight, and one time European Heavyweight champion, is best remembered for wrestling his way through to the final of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament held at Harringay in 1947. In the final, held on March 4th 1947, he lost by a KO to Britain’s Bert Assirati, in a bout refereed by Lou Marco. On the way to the final he had beaten Phil Siki, Karl Reginsky and Bert Mansfield. Martinsen In the return contest, fought in Paris in October of the same year, Martinsen took the title from Assirati. In 1952 Ivar defeated Felix Miquet to claim the European version of the World Heavyweight Championship. He is said to have taken part in the first ever tag match in France, around 1955, partnering Francois Miquet against Eddie Brush and Jack Wentworth. Ivar Martinsen passed away on 22nd July, 1975.
Billed as the “Dockland’s strong boy” 1950s and 1960s heavyweight working for independent promoters mainly in the south and midlands of England. Opponents included top opposition men such as Tiger Ed Bright, Mike Demitre and Ron Harrison.
Ah, the Masked Marvel. There were so many of them over the years, one of them was a driver on our local buses in the 1960s! We wouldn't know where to begin (or end), but it is certainly a name with a place in Britain's wrestling heritage. Wrestling historian Charles Mascall claimed to have known at least thirty of them.
To be added soon
Italian and European heavyweight champion visited Britain for the first time in 1951 and returned just about every year until 1962, with wins over top class opposition such as Joe Cornelius, Frank Manto and Mike Marino. Here was a man who knew every rule in the book, and a good few more besides it seems. Always associated with Italy, he was born in Genoa, Mario actually lived in Belgium, where his family owned an ice cream business.
A few wrestlers had the charisma to charm the fans as soon as they entered the ring. That was the case when we saw Bobo Matu bounce energetically into the ring to wrestle Casey Pye. We first came across Bolton's Bobo Matu in the mid 1960s and by then he had more than half a dozen years under his belt, having turned professional in 1959.
Straight away we could see that here was a man with an effervescent character who would bob, weave and smile his way around the ring; and the fans loved him. The professional career followed a grounding in the amateur sport at the Bolton Harriers Amateur Wrestling Club.
As to his family heritage of the pacific islands we cannot confirm. Although we can say that his real name suggests more links to friendly Lancashire than the Friendly Isles! We have uncovered an advertisement from 1958 with Bobo wrestling under his family name against Henri Pierlot. Whatever, he had a radiant personality that made him a popular wrestler around the rings of Britain. A popular wrestler but a man who could look after himself, according to those who crossed him in the ring.
In January, 1962, having worked for the main independent promoters Bobo was signed up to work for Joint Promotions, where he found himself with a new class of opponent including Billy Howes, Gerry de Jaegar, Les kellett and Billy Joyce.
The highlight came on 11th April, 1962, when he appeared at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time, losing to Bradford's Eric Taylor. This was a relatively rare venture south, most of Bobo’s career being spent working in the north and midlands for Wryton Promotions. 1962 was also the year, in March, when Bobo made his television debut against Bert Royal.
All of this was a few years before we came across Bobo in our local ring. Work for the independent promoters meant that Bobo was absent from television for six years. Return he did, a little bit heavier when he faced Honey Boy Zimba. Bobo and Zimba were to go on to form a regular tag team partnership. In all Bobo Matu appeared on television a dozen times, with opponents including Billy Joyce, Kendo Nagasaki and Andy Robin.
Bobo Matu remained a regular throughout British rings until the mid 1980s, but by then wrestling commitments were competing for his time with television and film parts, as well as running a scrap metal business in Bolton, and he gradually slipped away.
Magnificent Maurice (Also known as Colonel Brody)
The name may not have been an original, and we should not confuse this gentleman with the extrovert we read about in those 1960s American magazines that eventually made their way into our newsagents.
In the 1980s the British version of Magnificent Maurice was an impressive figure as he stood shaven headed. moustachioed and totooed centre ring. Here was a man who knew how to upset the punters; not just by disregarding the rules but by his ring presence and camp gimmick. Strutting around the ring, taunting his opponent and jeering at the audience, let alone his rule bending tendencies, led to him being hated by fans throughout the world.
Steve Regal (William Regal) praises the colourful character who was his first professional opponent. The villainous heavyweight was solid northern. His name was Shaun Arnott, a bricklayer by trade, and he went on to wrestling reincarnation as Colonel Brody, the shaven headed bad boy of the 1980s heavyweight scene.
Whilst the shaven head and the handlebar moustache remained the same the distinguished military figure of Colonel Brody was a stark contrast with the camp Magnificent Maurice, but none the more popular.
We think we are safe to say that back in the 1960s most wrestling fans knew very little about the distant land of Peru. They did know a powerful man with long black curly hair who went by the name Gomez Maximiliano, or Ernesto Conde Maximiliano to give him his family name. By the time he set foot in Britain, his first visit being in 1961, he had left Peru and set up home in Spain.
It was from here that he made his annual 1960s jaunts to Britain to rough it with our top heavyweights, almost always for Dale Martin Promotions. A sturdy sixteen stoner, with his long straggly hair reaching halfway down his back, Maximiliano was a colourful addition to British rings. By the end of 1961 he was known to television fans and had beaten Johnny Yearsley at the Royal Albert Hall. No one was safe – Earl Maynard, Gordon Nelson and Joe Cornelius all went down to the wild Peruvian on occasions; though promoters used him increasingly as target practice for domestic talent from 1965 onwards.
Visits to Britain were often alongside appearances in the major tournaments held in Austria and Germany. Gomez Maximiliano was last seen wrestling in Britain in 1967. We are told he moved to Vienna where he lived until his death.