O'Hagan - O'Neill
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
That was the word for Mad Mike O’Hagan. When he stepped into the ring no one was quite sure what would happen. The fans, the opponent, the promoter … we are not sure even Mad Mike himself knew what was going to happen next. Whatever it was the fans would love it and go home having enjoyed a good night out.
Michael O’Hagan was born in Donegal, in the West of Ireland, and whatever his persona suggested there was nothing nonsensical about him. Michael and his family crossed the sea to Scotland and ended up living in Ayshire. He befriended wrestler Dale Storm and became one of Dale's stable of fighters at the Mossblown Village Gym. The "Wee Leprechaun" was what Dale called him, "A lovely fellah, and very funny too,"
Dale told us the story of a car that Mike had bought, a car that was the love of his life.
"I can't for the life of me remember the make, but it was green, and it was one of those classical European designs, with the big kind of Bug Eyed Head Lamps! Anyway, he was telling me he'd been home to visit his old dad in Donegal. He couldn't believe his son could afford such an expensive car! regards the big head lamps!. 'Be Jesus Michael, those lights are so big, you could see right out of sight and right over that hill, up the road there!...With the likes of one of them, and that’s for sure!...But you’re even luckier, because you've got two O’ them!' Whether that story is true or not, I don't know, but you've got to admit, it is funny! "
In fact when Dale opened the doors of his gym in the Ayshire village of Mossblown it was only made possible by the help of quite a few of his trainees and Michael donated many of his own sets of weights to the club, supplementing those bought by Dale and his brothers.
Mike was never going to be one of the big names in wrestling. He was a part timer whose day job restricted his work to the west of Scotland and the independent promoters. But he was none the less a successful and enjoyable for that.
As he entered the ring Mike would wear a black tailed morning coat and top hat. We told you this man was a bit on the unusual side. Once the bell sounded the fireworks started and Md Mike lived up to his name.
Fellow wrestler Eddie Rose described Mike's sense of humour as "impish." We are unsure if this would be the first word that sprang to mind when he entered the ring at the height of the IRA troubles carrying a large parcel with the letters IRA written on the side. We understand the management of the hall were none too pleased.
"I just loved his ring persona." Eddie Rose told us.
A fervent republican, Mad Mike often teamed up with Teddy Bear Taylor, a strong loyalist, which demonstrates once again the boundaries broken by wrestling. Fans were prepared for the unexpected when Mike took to the ring against the likes of Dale Storm, Big Ian Miller and Farmer John.
Popular around Scottish independent rings in the 1960s and 1970s Mad Mike wrestled part time and consequently rarely ventured across the border into the country south, which was our loss and the Scottish fans gain.
Pat O'Keefe was a sturdy, strong heavyweight, weighing over 15 stones, who appeared regular on the wrestling shows of the midlands and south in the early post war years. Reported to be a colourful character with long sideburns and the appearance of a Victorian prizefighter he was billed as the "John L Sullivan of wrestling." O'Keefe seems to have disappeared from the wrestling circuit in 1951.
Derek Oldham (Mike McGurn)
Read our extended tribute: Local Hero Derek Oldham.
Jose Olivera (Jim Olivera)
Jim Olivera was a rough, tough, bad tempered wrestler, and legend has it that on one occasion he knocked out the teeth of the referee. His mistreatment of referees is certainly well documented. Hopefully he was a little more mild mannered when involved in his other business concerns, running a souvenir shop and ladies' hairdressers in Palma Nova. Following an amateur boxing career in which he represented Spain in the 1948 Olympics, and a short professional career, he turned to professional wrestling. He fared far better as a wrestler, despite being banned for a year in his home country, and took the European Mid heavyweight title in 1948. In 1961 he lost the European heavyweight title to Billy Joyce at Belle Vue. However, we can find no record of him having won the belt and some might even suspect he was given the belt in order to lose it to the British champion. He wrestled throughout Europe, and was a regular in the UK, until he retired in 1964.
Tony Olivera (Toni Olivera)
Tony Olivera was the younger brother of Jose Olivera and one time Spanish welterweight champion. By the time he began accompanying brother to Britain in 1956 he had filled out and was matched against heavyweights in single matches as well as partnering big brother in tag matches. Tony's wrestling exploits took him around the world, travelling extensively throughout Europe and South America
See the entry for Marty Jones
Another tough Northerner, born in Scotland to Irish parents, but latterly from Southport, and one half of the Liverpool Skinheads tag team. Terry and partner Roy Paul entered the ring wearing denim shorts held up with braces. He combined the courage and stamina of days as a coal miner with the discipline developed as an amateur boxier and put it all to good use to become a professional wrestler with a career spanning twenty-odd years.
He was an all action wrestler with a career that began in 1956 and spanned both the independent and Joint Promotion organizations. We remember him on the northern independent circuit of the 1960s but he went on to much greater things and was a frequent worker at the two big North West venues, the Liverpool Stadium and Belle Vue, Manchester. He was also the second opponent for a young Kendo Nagasaki, following in the path of Jim Hussey and losing by the KO route at Birmingham's Embassy Sportsdrome on 17th November, 1963
In the 1960s he would sometimes pull on a mask and adopt the personae of Doctor Blood, a villain who was finally upended, and unmasked by that other good doctor, Death.
Page revised 23/06/2019: Revision of Mike O'Hagan entry