WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

M: McRae - Mendoza

Wrestling Heritage A-Z


Walter McRae
Old timer Walter McRae from Newcastle had a short career in the early 1950s yet had a more lasting impact on the wrestling scene. We have found him working fairly frequently in 1951 and 1952 in North Eastern England and Scotland against a wide range of opponents that included Les Kellett,  Joe Hill, Geoff Portz, Alan Colbeck, Eric Taylor  and Dennis Mitchell amongst others. Walter opened a gymnasium  in Dean Street in Newcastle city centre. The gym 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. Amongst those trained by Walter and going on to some fame were Frank Robb and Black Jack Mulligan.

Duncan McRoberts
We know very little about Duncan McRoberts other than we enjoyed watching him and he's given us a bit of a headache.  Billed from Scotland we suspect Manchester was closer to the mark. Our memory is of a solid, leotarded heavyweight who we watched in matches with the twenty stone Ed Bright and The Outlaw (independent promoters version). The headache started when Eddie Rose wrote  that Duncan McRobert only weighed around 12 stones.We were surprised to say the least, but Eddie knows best so thought we must have been mistaken, or that the dastardly indie promoter had slipped in a different Duncan in the way those indies did on occasions. That all changed when Ron Historyo discovered advertisements for our heavyweight Duncan McRoberts working with Cowboy Cassidy, Dwight J Ingleburgh, The Ghoul and other independent heavies. We  found our heavyweight Duncan working for Jack Cassidy, Dominic Pye and Cape Promotions. So, case solved? Well not exactly. Those matches were all in the 1960s. In the 1970s we found Duncan McRoberts still on the bill, but with lighter men that Included Ian Wilson, Pete Lindberg, Ian St John and Eddie Rose, "I worked with him often in the 70s both in solo bouts and tag matches. He was a regular on shows in the North West,particularly Jack Cassidy's shows where he met the likes of Roy Fortuna, Mark Wayne, Ian Wilson, Mike "Flash" Jordan and featured in tag matches versus the Red Devils. A very solid wrestler and a good guy out of the ring."  So, were there two Duncan McRoberts? For even more confusion there was second or third wrestler, Duncan Roberts.

El Medico (Also known as Dave Finch)
Billed from Portugal the tanned skin and moustache made the popular light heavyweight look the part. Central Lancashire was  more likely to be the place he laid his head because El Medico was Preston's Dave Finch. 

A regular worker for most of the independents Dave Finch was overshadowed by his friend and frequent opponent Bill Tunney. When not in opposite corners the two of them did join forces in a formidable tag partnership.

A Preston North End fan Eddie Rose tells the story of the time Preston played Bolton in the FA Cup and Bob Sherry managed to get Dave into the ground by passing him off as a disabled person in a wheel chair. Good plan, until Preston scored that is, and the over-excited Dave leaped out of the chair.


Reggie Meen
Quite a few professional boxers took advantage of the flourishing professional wrestling scene in the 1930s, and one of them was former British heavyweight champion Reggie Meen, holder of the belt for eight months in 1931.  Not regarded as one of Britain's greatest heavyweight champion the opportunity of having a big name sportsman to attract the fans proved irresistible. Newspaper reports reveal that Reggie wrestled and boxed simultaneously, retiring from both boxing and wrestling in 1939.

Reggie Meen made his professional wrestling debut in March, 1935,  making his debut against a veteran of thirty years, Johanfesson, at the Granby Halls, Leicester.  Six thousand fans were reported to have  witnessed the match, with hundreds more left waiting outside, twice storming the doors of the hall to gain entrance to the already full stadium. Meen won the match when Johanfesson retired at the end of the first round. 

It was a different story in July, 1936, when he faced the American Jack Sherry at Leicester, with Reggie lasting less than twenty seconds. 

His success as a boxer made him a high profile and novel wrestler, but he was never destined to re-create his successes of the boxing ring in a wrestling career that lasted four years. 

Chris Melissovas
Chris Melissovas may only have spent a short time wrestling in Britain but in every sense he was a giant of the wrestling world.  A muscular and powerful Christos George Melissovas made a short visit to Britain in 1950, facing the likes of Ray St Bernard, Ron Jackson and Bob McMasters. Top class opposition that indicates the stature of the man. This was not his first time in England as Chris had been in London for the 1948 Olympic Games.  London was a far cry from his birthplace in 1919. That was  in northern Greece, a small village, Protopapas, near Ioannina. In 1991 more than 80 years after his birth the population of Protopapas was recorded as just 463.   During a long career he wrestled all over the world. Following his visit to Britain in 1950 he sailed from London on 5th July, 1950, heading for Quebec, Canada. Chris was soon established in North America, though by now mostly using the name Chris Averiff. Our friends at wrestlingdata.com pick up his career in 1952 wrestling in the Chicago area. A long North American career ended around the mid 1960s.Chris Melissovas died in Atlanta, USA, in 1974.

Jim Mellor (Also known as Brian Aherne, Young Aherne)
Most readers who saw Jim Mellor in action will remember a veteran of the ring with a career that spanned  three decades. He was a veteran who stood out from the crowd not just by wearing black tights (which was unusual in those days), but by cramming a huge amount of strength and wrestling ability into his small frame.   

The Stoke On Trent hard man’s interest in the sport began shortly before the war and he started learning the business in 1938, a regular at the boxing and wrestling gym behind The Black Boy Public House in Cobridge, Stoke On Trent. The outbreak of war put paid to hopes of a quick route to professional success. Nevertheless, Jim did get offered professional bouts during the early years of the war, meeting in those days wrestlers such as Bully Pye, Ray Raymond, Jack Santos, John Hall, Kid Dickson, Buddy Isles, George Goldie, Bill Ogden and Tiger Woods. Enlisting in the army and being taken prisoner of war proved something of an inconvenience, but no doubt gave Jim the determination, strength and courage that made him such a successful wrestler. 

Much of his immediate post war experience was in the Far East, where he became the South East Asian Welterweight champion. In those days Jim was often known by the name Young Aherne, or Brian Aherne; maybe army superiors disapproved of his nocturnal wrestling activities! On returning to Britain in 1947 Jim was immediately matched with latter day greats such as George Kidd, Alan Colbeck and Tommy Mann. For more than twenty more years he remained a regular feature of wrestling bills, mainly in the midlands and north. During that time he wrestled just about every other welter and middleweight in the country, and held victories over most, if not all. 

Promoters relied on him to put on a great performance whether against another well established mat man or helping to enhance the career of a promising young star.  In latter years Jim combined Jim took over as landlord at two public houses in the Stoke on Trent area, The Brown Jug at Cobridge, and then the Holden Bridge Hotel on Leek Road. 

Jean Menard
Skilled French middleweight visited Britain during the winter of 1965-6. In his mid twenties at the time he lost on television, and again at the Royal Albert Hall, to Mick McManus. Tagged on occasions with fellow French man Jean Corne.

Norman Mendez
Manchester based wrestler trained by Grant Foderingham, the Black Panther at his Manchester gymnasium. Wrestled around the north for independent promoters in the 1970s

Ricky Mendez
Manchester based wrestler trained by Grant Foderingham, the Black Panther at his Manchester gymnasium. Wrestled around the north for independent promoters in the 1970s

Don Mendoza
The hairiest chest in wrestledom. 

Maybe, maybe not, but certainly hairy enough to gain him the nickname Gorilla and make a lasting impression on us as young fans in the 1960s. 

Work as a cake decorator may seem a surreal springboard to a life in the ring, but it was this and army service during the Second World War which preceded Don Mendoza’s wrestling career. 

Towards the end of the 1940s his first professional contest was against Wigan wrestler  Jack Sheppard. It was the start of a career that was almost short lived, with a ten month lay off following a contest  in which he was injured after being thrown over the ropes by  “Whiskers” Larry Laycock.  

He was told he would never wrestle again, but come back he did and Don Mendoza went on to become a popular  post war heavyweight  from the war until the 1960s, when he handed the family laurels to his son, Al Miquet. 

Billed from Huddersfield or Venezuela according to the whim and imagination of the promoter, Mendoza spent much of his life living in Southport, where he owned a shop in Duke Street, and no, it wasn’t the name Don Mendoza over the door.

He was big, tough, a welcome addition to any bill, and missed when he retired from the ring.

28/02/2021 Walter McRae added

11/04/2021 Duncan McRoberts updated