WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

Midge Cowan

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Midge Cowan

Midge Cowan, there’s a name from the past. 

Only those with memories like Sam Betts that go back to the late 1950s and early 1960s have recollections of this battler.  " Aye, 'e wur only little" Sam told us, a mighty atom indeed. Sam knew Midge in the days he lived in Leeds, where he worked as a body guard for Jimmy Savile (dare we mention him these days?) and would accompany the DJ as he carried the takings from the Mecca Ballroom to the bank. Another memory from Sam. At a time when most wrestlers wore old fashioned full length dressing gowns Midge would enter the ring in a kilt and a personalised jacket with his name embroidered on the back. Sam remembered how proud Midge was of that jacket, even wearing it in public on occasions.

Midge was only 5 feet 7 inches tall, but very powerful, with daughter Kirsty recalling how he would flex his muscles to portray Popeye.  He was a proud Scot, known in the wrestling halls as the Flying Scot, and was born in Larkhall on 24th June, 1931. The name on the birth certificate was Robert Cowan. Midge started wrestling in the late 1950s and worked mostly for the independent promoters and Relwyskow and Green. 

Opponents included Alan Dennison, Sid Cooper, Bernard Murray and El Greco. Whilst they all went on to television wrestling fame Midge was not so fortunate, yet appeared on tv many times where he was a member of the cast on the Ken Dodd show. 

In the early 1960s Midge moved to Devon, living in Brixham and Dartmouth. In December, 1964, Midge was one of a group of British wrestlers that toured Poland. In those days there was no professional sport in the Eastern bloc, but permission was granted for the wrestlers to tour as entertainers, working only with other members of their professional team.  

A return to Britain and nightly visits to the wrestling halls, until ... It wasn’t long afterwards that fate dealt a cruel blow. A serious ring injury necessitated a hip operation that went badly wrong. Midge was left with a metal hip joint, one shortened leg and the end of his professional wrestling career. He continued to make occasional ring appearances in Mickey Kylie’s fairground booths. No doubt the challengers thought they were picking an easy fight when they chose the small one. They were in for a shock.

Midge continued to work as a doorman, building labourer, fisherman and at the end of his days worked on Brixham Fish Quay. Those days ended prematurely. More tragedy. Rumours are that it was the fear of ending wheelchair bound that led to Midge Cowan taking his own life, aged 57, on 29th May, 1989. His death was reported in the national press with tributes led by Jimmy Savile.

"Aye, 'e wur only little" . But one worth remembering. 

Page added 28/02/2021