M: Murphy - Myers
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Cornelius Murphy was a Salford based Irish welterweight who worked for the independent promoters of the 1960s and 1970s. A fiery little tough 'un who was on our first live wrestling show. We didn’t consider Murphy a villain, but he was a hard wrestler in some lively encounters with the likes of Dennis Tracey, Ray Charles and Kevin Conneely. Certainly a man about whom we would like to learn more.
A Dublin tough guy and legitimate welterweight title contender during his early sixties heyday. Even though we may remember him as a seventies undercarder it is notable that in opposition to Jack Dempsey he drew both in a well-recorded British Championship bout in 1962 and again in a 1965 televised bout, surely a measure of thoroughbred standing.
Starting out with the independent promoters Joe is remembered as an out and villain, but mellowed somewhat after moving to Joint Promotions. Joe Murphy was the hardest forearm smasher of them all! And one of the shortest wrestlers around.
Seemingly a part-timer in the seventies but he had a memorable run when tagging with Sid Cooper in the Roughnecks, and later tagged with Mick McManus. His tag pairing with Jim Fitzmaurice in The Shamrocks seemed not to take off. The tag partnership that brought him the European Tag Team title was perhaps the least well known one, alongside Fred Van Lotta. "What a pairing!.I don't know which of them was the worst rule breaker," commented Tom H.
David Franklin recalls, “I saw Joe Murphy in some really good matches throughout the 1960's. He was someone I looked out for on a bill, knowing it would be worth seeing.Everyone except me seems to remember him as a villain. However when he wrestled in my area and (on TV as far as I can remember) he always stuck to the rules. He was a hard man, no doubt about that, and he enjoyed an all-out battle, but always within the rules. When he came back in the 1970's and tagged with Sid Cooper he was no longer "Iron Jaw" Joe Murphy, he was the villainous "Maddog" Murphy.”
Another fan was Ballymoss, “I was fortunate enough to see "Iron Jaw" Joe Murphy on several occasions in the early to mid 1960's and can confirm he was a very tough character indeed. He was a very competent wrestler who could hold his own with anyone at his weight. He also had the ability to switch from "blue eye" to "heel" and I particularly remember his bouts with such formidable foes as Peter Rann and Pasquale Salvo, a pair he defeated, which confirms his class. “
A Scottish heavyweight, born in Glasgow but living most of his life in Coatbridge turned professional in the mid 1960s. He was often seen on Scottish promotions defending the honour of his country against invaders from the south. Defending the honour but not always within the rules as John usually played the part of the villain we loved to hate. John worked for both independent and Joint Promotions, meeting many of the top heavyweights of the 1960s and 1970s. His reluctance to travel far from home on overnight trips limited his career prospects. John worked for around fifteen years until he disappeared from our rings around 1980. Away from the ring John and his wife, Anna, managed a succession of public houses.
John Murphy died in December, 2015, aged 75.
As soon as he made his television debut in April, 1968 against Mike Eagers the fans warmed to Plymouth’s Steve Young, sometimes billed as Dave Young. Further television appearances followed against Colin Joynson, Alan Dennison, Pete Stewart, Les Kellett and a tag partnership with Adrian Street that lost to the Royal Brothers. Little did we guess in those faraway days that the blond haired Steve Young would metamorphosis into something not unlike his dad, Roy Bull Davis, and become known to us all as Skull Murphy. . That is not to say that Murphy was in any way a mere imitation. Certainly not. We loved to watch dad wrestle, but Skull more than competently kept up the family traditions in the world of professional wrestling. He filled out to become a leading figure in the heavyweight division, at one time partnering Dave Fit Finlay in tag action. For more than thirty years he enraged fans as one of the greatest bad men of the late twentieth century. His unpredictable nature made all his bouts all-action affairs, and one of the few wrestlers able to please fans of the Mountevans era and those of the new millennium.
Murphy the Surfy
Better know as “Brian” to his friends, Brian McClung started training back in the mid 1960’s at the Old Mossblown Gym in Ayrshire Scotland. Under the tutelage of Dale Storm and Bruce Welch of Spartan Promotions he progressed quickly before joining the pro-ranks as a light welterweight. His persona was that of a long blonde haired, normally multi-coloured trunks wearing lover of the beach and a surfboard.
A maintenance engineer at Grays carpet Factory in Ayr the conflict of better paid regular employment on the tools or the prospect of having to try and make a name for himself and gain the move away from the Independents over to TV’s Joint Promotions proved difficult. So Brian eventually decided to seek out better life prospects in Canada, and emigrated in 1979. Scotland’s loss was the Dominion’s gain and he never looked back, working as a trainer for Brandon Steel in Brampton, near Toronto. Among his tougher opponents he lists former Harlequin Tag Team member Dave Morgan and Johnny Powers as strong, capable workers who gave their all in the pursuit of always endeavouring to give the fee paying public good value for money!!
The smiling bald headed Yorkshireman, one of the most popular characters in post war wrestling, was born in Bradford in 1927. He was destined to become famous for performing his duties with good humour, was a popular figure in the nation's living rooms initially as one of the top lighter men in the country and latterly as a third man.
In fact Bernard was at one time appearing on tv more often than that man McManus as he featured in the opening sequence of our weekly wrestling fix.
An amateur career led to a professional debut, under the guidance of Norman Morrell, shortly after the end of the second world war. Along the way he swapped his birth name of Moran for that of Murray. It was a career in which Barnard carved his own niche with a touch of comedy that many suspect was the inspiration for Les Kellett.
We first come across Bernard in 1947, wrestling in Scotland, and in December of that year in a tournament for the Scottish lightweight championship. The Scottish connection remains a mystery to us, but his earliest appearances seemed to be in Scotland.
As a professional Bernard brought fun to the sport we love, remembered fondly by fans decades after he graced our rings. Fans like Bernard Hughes: ""I had the pleasure of watching Bernard Murray a few times and he never disappointed. Very skillful and he could dish it out a bit if he felt like it. His match with Gentleman Jim Lewis was a pleasure to watch from the time that the wrestlers got into the ring, right to the end," and colleague Peter Preston, "Bernard Murray was one of the all time greats. As a wrestler and a very good friend. He had the best Irish Whip in the business, barr none. I have lots of wonderful memories of Bernard and myself together."
Bernard's professional career lasted more than twenty years and was followed by success as a referee.
Following retirement Bernard emigrated to New Zealand, where he died in 2012.
We end with comments from Lisa, the youngest daughter of Jack Taylor (from Bradford) .She tells us she had the special honour of being great friends with Bernard Moran (Murray) "Bernard was a real character and was loved by many I will miss him greatly. Bernard was a great friend to my family. He took me under his wing when I first emigrated to New Zealand in 1996. His wit and funny stories helped me through some tough times and he became like a second father to me and grandfather to my four children. We will miss him greatly and I am sure he will be a shining star in the sky watching over us, as he was my guiding star when he was alive."
Musa The Turk
Geuchichi Moussa was originally billed from Algeria and when he made his televised debut against Mick McManus in 1962 at Kingston, he had Kent Walton waxing lyrical: “He escapes almost before he’s in the holds.”
However, his mouthful of a name proved unsuitable, and promoters quickly fell back on the tried and trusted and frequently Terrible nationality as used in professional wrestling since the days of Hackenschmidt.
Abu Musa the Turk became a mainstay welterweight of the southern wrestling scene through the thriving mid-sixties, and featured on the cover of The Wrestler magazine in action with sixties starlet Adrian Street.
Adrian Street tells us that he made Musa suffer one night following instructions from the promoters that he should let the Algerian have the limelight during a televised match.
The Lancashire seaside town of Blackpool was a hotbed of professional wrestling for more than fifty years and dozens of wrestlers learned their trade in the multitude of venues, Tony Francis recalls fifteen! It was into this hotbed of activity that a young Keith Myatt made his tentative first steps in the 1980s, having been trained by John Wilkie and learning tough lessons at the hands (and feet) of hard men such as Dave Duran. A couple of years later he was working for Joint Promotions, sharing a ring with the likes of Big Daddy, Johnny Saint and Brian Maxine.
The Belgian mid heavyweight made his first visit to Britain in 1969 but was set to return again during the 1970s. He finished 12th and then 11th respectively at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics in the Greco Roman welterweight class.
At times he lived up to expectations as an Olympic representative by giving Mike Marino a tussle in a World Mid heavyweight championship clash at Nottingham, and drawing with both Tibor Szakacs and Marino again on their home turf, the Royal Albert Hall. Less impressive was a televised draw with Barry Douglas and losses against John Cox and Leon Arras.
Clive Myers (Ironfist)
The slick welterweight who turned pro in 1970 after successful amateur wrestling and weightlifting experience took little time exciting the public in any bout he was involved in.
The token Welterweight Championship of the West Indies was awarded to him, but had all but the most gullible fans questioning its validity. By the mid-seventies word was out of his arm wrestling prowess and championships. Then we recognised him immediately for a brief masked spell as Iron Fist, so obviously he that no mystery was ever intended.
He adopted a colourful and exaggeratedly acrobatic martial arts style and seemed a serious threat to opponents of all weights as his career peaked in unmasked combat. He teamed with the likes of Kung Fu and Chris Adams, and had memorable battles with Rocco and Nagasaki.
He also featured in one of ITV’s most spectacular finishes to a bout, a review of which can be read in Armchair Corner under Spring heeled and surly.
Another review is of the controversial tv début of Kung Fu. We understand that Clive turned his back on all wrestling ties and lives in the West Indies as a Jehovah's Witness.
Related article: Roman Trilogy in Armchair Corner on www.wrestlingheritage.com