M: Montes - Morandi
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Buddy Montes came to Britain in 1967, the highlight no doubt being a disqualification victory in a tag match over Johnny Yearsley and Danny Lynch at the Royal Albert Hall.
Mexican Charro Montes came our way in 1951 and 1954 and returning in 1967. It was claimed that Carro and Buddy Montes were brothers, but doubts have been cast on this.
Francois Monteverdi (Also known as Monte Verdi)
The publicity may have proclaimed “The Italian Wonder” but we have found no evidence of a distinguished career for this London born heavyweight of the late 1930s.
Ron Historyo discovered that Monteverdi was neither Italian, Swiss, French or Argentinian as was claimed, but born Frank Monteverdi in Lambeth on 14th July, 1911. His father had been born in Holborn whilst earlier generations were Italian.
We came across Monteverdi for the first time in June, 1934 taking on Douglas Clark in Hull, a J.J. Tooth Promotion. Monteverdi was said to be a powerful, strong and capable18 stone wrestler. Not powerful, strong or capable enough it took Clark five of the scheduled twelve rounds to win by two straight pinfalls. During the following five years he wrestled around the country with opponents that included Carl Reginsky, The Iron Duke , Bert Assirati, Margerich Anaconda, Bert Mansfield and Bulldogn Bill Garnon. All top class opponents but with the outbreak of war he disappeared from our rings, we last find him in action on 26th August, 1939.
In the 1939 census Frank Monteverdi described himself as a carpenter’s labourer and we have found a newspaper report from 1942 where he is selling fruit from a barrow, and obstructing the highway!
"The Master of Masters" was the nickname of the Spaniard that visited Britain for the first time in 1955, and returned in 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1968. Was it the food or the weather he found appealing? Although the majority of his matches were in southern England he did travel extensively and worked for all the Joint Promotion members.
French heavyweight Marcel Chauveau made a fleeting visit to northern England and Scotland at the end of 1966 for Relwyskow and Green Promotions, tussling with the likes of Kendo Nagasaki, Jim Hussey, Bill Howes and even challenging Mike Marino at Sheffield for the World Mid Heavyweight title. He was back in Britain again for a May 1971 tag match at the Royal Albert Hall, partnering Vassilios Mantopolous against the Hells Angels. With a background in boxing and Greco Roman wrestling Marcel Montreal was an accomplished technical wrestler well known throughout Europe wrestling the likes of Andre Bollet, Jack Lasartesse and Andre Drapp. He retired from wrestling in 1990.
Yes Clayton Moore was the man who played The Lone Ranger, the black and white tv series we watched when children. We are not talking about that Clayton Moore but wonder if the fictional masked Texas ranger was the inspiration for his ring name? Or maybe it was just his name! Welterweight Clayton Moore had a background in booth wrestling before he turned professional in 1971. Reported at the time to have been born in Canada Clayton moved to Great Britain whilst young and settled in Wiltshire. He was a promising young wrestler in the late 1960s and featured as a "Likely Lad" in The Wrestler magazine but we heard little else of him.
A real old timer and one of those pioneers who kept British wrestling alive during the wilderness years of 1910-1930, wrestling great wrestlers such as Tom Rose and Billy Riley in legitimate matches in front of thousands of fans.
Billy was a master of Lancashire style catch-as -catch-can, a legitimate style of wrestling that was the specialism of Lancashire that had influenced the development of the sport across the world in the 19th century. Forum discussion of Billy established that Billy won the world middleweight title in 1927. Legend has it that 11,000 turned up to watch when he wrestled Billy Riley at Springfield Park, Wigan. David Mantell was quick to remind us, “This was legitimate Lancashire Catch-as-catch-can wrestling and not pro wrestling as such - hence why the bout took place in a field/pitch and not in a ring.” Not pro wrestling as we know it, but the thousands of fans paid entrance money and wrestlers received their reward.
Billy was born in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, on 9th June 1891, one of eleven children, and consequently forty years old at the time of the 1930 wrestling revival. All the more surprising that not only was he prolific worker in northern England during the 1930s but had a sufficiently combative style to become known as the Lancashire Terror, and challenged the heavier Bert Assirati, Jack Pye and Atholl Oakeley to meet him with £100 sidestakes.
Billy was a very aggressive fighter. Newspapers reported that on 7th March, 1932, when Billy beat Scottish champion Alec Munroe in the main event of the first ever All-in wrestling show at Hull the crowd were in uproar. Three times the two wrestlers fought outside the ring, kicking, biting and gouging, with Billy eventually getting the winning fall whilst his foot was on Alec Munroe's foot. Following the match Billy struggled to shout above the jeering crowd to explain that he was the middleweight catch-as-catch-can champion but was now fighting All-In style.
A relative has told us that Billy married Mary Donnelly, the niece of Billy Riley, and in the 1920s they moved to Stainforth in Yorkshire where they opened a greengrocery with some of the produce sourced from his own farm.
Billy Moores died in 1964.
The strut to the ring, the arrogant dismissal of opponents and fans, and the breaking of the rules demonstrated the inappropriateness of the name “Gentleman Geoff Moran.” The London based wrestler and promoter worked for independent promoters in the 1950s and 1960s. His greatest claim to fame is possibly that he was the first opponent of Tony Scarlo and Adrian Street, both of whom went on to considerably greater wrestling success. We'd like to know more.
Rocky Moran (Also known as Lee Hippie)
Northern Ireland ex boxer turned professional wrestler initially a favourite in the north and midlands of England using the name Lee Hippie and dressed in judo garb. His birth name was the less colourful Dennis McMillan.
Based in Birkenhead, Merseyside, he later changed his ring name to Rocky Moran.
Working initially for the independents he was signed up by Max Crabtree to work for Joint Promotions.
He worked on television in the 1980s, appearing in around a dozen contests including tag partner to Dave Finlay.
Moran was Heavy Middleweight champion for a couple of months in 1986, taking the belt from Chic Cullen in January 1986 and losing it to Kung Fu Eddie Hamil in March of the same year.
Rocky Moran sadly passed away, aged 53, in 2005.
Many wrestlers have alternative professions, but Frenchman Jean Morandi is the only pastry chef we know of, working at the prestigious Midland Hotel in Manchester. Those delicate hands could do many nasty things to opponents during the years that light heavyweight Jean was a popular wrestler in British rings.
Jean left his native France in the early years of the Second World War, fled to Britain and served in the parachute regiment. Jean turned professional shortly after the end of the war and was to become a regular feature of wrestling bills on both sides of the English Channel for more than twenty years. Like many others he learned the trade on the wrestling booths of Matt Moran and the technical aspects at the Manchester YMCA. One man who told us of the great influence Jean had on him, and introduced him to professional wrestling was Lou Ravelle.
Another wrestler who remembers his encounter with Jean Morandi is Tony Bates, "Regrets? The only regret is that I didn’t duck when Jean Morandi hit me in the mouth with a forearm smash and knocked my three front teeth out.”
05/07/2021 Francois Monteverdi added