WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

W: Micky Wood


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Micky Wood was another destined for obscurity until the name was recalled by Wrestling Heritage members some years ago. Alexander, known as Micky, Wood was born in Birmingham on 12th September, 1897, the son of shoemaker Harry and his wife Augusta. His name at birth was Alexander Wathen, and the family were still known by this name in the 1901 census. Ten years later the name Wathen-Wood was in use, and this was then shortened to Wood.

Boxer, wrestler, actor, stuntman, he  had an eventful life. One of wrestling's pioneers we find him working professionally in 1934, simultaneously as a wrestler and referee. The Bearded Monarch, Black Butcher Johnson, Steve Szalay and Red Brokau numbered amongst his wrestling opponents. A fractured rib whilst refereeing a match at Coventry in 1935 was followed two years later with  a head injury.  Enforced retirement, a testimonial show at Derby in his honour and it looked as though that was the end of the road for Micky and he would have to settle for being solely a referee.

Two months later he was back in the ring as though nothing had happened. We wonder if those attending his testmonial demanded their money back?    Somewhere along the way Micky acquired the label of British lightweight champion, though we have yet to uncover any evidence of championship matches. Whatever, if such things matter we can line him up alongside  George DeRelwyskow , Johanfesson,  Peter Gotz , Jack Alker, Ginger Burke, Johnny Saint, George Kidd and other more readily recalled names. 

Micky Wood served in the cavalry in the first world war,  and trained commandos in the second. In 1942 he wrote a book "Unarmed Action – A Training Handbook for the Forces," reviewed as "An excellent little book for all who wish to learn unarmed combat." The book was issued to members of the Home Guard and American forces in Britain.

The war seems to have brought an end to his wrestling ambitions. With the outbreak of peace Micky Wood had his eye on other things.

In 1946 he got involved in a  George Formby film as an adviser to a fight scene. He went on to appear in other films including Uneasy Terms (1948), High Treason, 1951 and Gilbert and Sullivan: The Immortal Jesters (1951)

By 1948 Micky was running a gym in London. When one newspaper referred to the poor quality of gyms in general (not Micky's) the wrestler amusingly retorted, "I have one of the cleanest gyms in London and quite a few of our leading boxers have used it. But after a few days they told me they didn't like the atmosphere. They are not used to cleanliness and good conditions."

Micky managed a stunt man agency for films known as Tough Guys. Joe D'Orazio was a member,  as was strong lady Joan Rhodes. It was claimed he went on to have 350 people on his books and one national newspaper stated he was responsible for the majority of stunts seen on cinema screens. In the film Ivanhoe more than 150 of his workers were took part in jousting, fighting and numerous stunts including a spectacular fall from a seventy five foot tall tower. In a stunt in Disney's Robin Hood (1952) Micky was shot by an arrow and his body floated downstream He was also an adviser in Night and the City film about professional wrestling.

Micky Wood died on November 20th 1963 in London.
Page added: 05/09/2021