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P: Palmer - Parky


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Bobby Palmer 
Mostly remembered by fans as one of Dale Martin Promotions top referees and dapper M.C. Bobby Palmer had a previous life as a professional wrestler. Robert Thomas Palmer was born in Bow, London, on 21st October, 1914, He was the son of Rebecca and Thomas "Pedlar" Palmer, a boxer known as the "Box of Tricks." According to journalist and boxing expert Peter Grundy Thomas Palmer was one of the cleverest boxers of all time, winning the world bantamweight title from  Billy Plimmer in 1895, successfully defending it five times before losing to Terry McGovern in New York.

The family moved to Brighton whilst Bobby was a schoolboy, and it was here he learnt to wrestle at the Brighton and Hove Athletic Club. His youthful appearance in later years made it hard to believe that here was a man who had combined wartime service with wrestling, Corporal Bobby Palmer on the posters.

In 1936 Bobby became a steward on the passenger liner, The Orford, As a young lightweight Bobby gained initial success, including a visit to Australia, before his career was interrupted by service as a parachutist in the R.A.F during the war.  He joined up on 7th September, 1939, four days after war was declared

Bobby resumed wrestling activities full time following the war. We find him refereeing from 1947 onwards, whilst also continuing to wrestle. In 1952 he wrestled George Kidd for the world lightweight championship at the Caird Hall, Dundee. Bobby took the opening fall before succumbing to falls in the eighth and ninth rounds.

When not in the ring Bobby worked as a film stuntman, was an antiques dealer and car delivery manager. As a referee, and later Master of Ceremonies, dapper Bobby brought dignity to occasions that would otherwise have been less so and helped to build the credibility of the wrestling days we celebrate on these pages.

He died on 26th January, 1999, aged 84.

Jim Pantobe
Flore Alfred Joseph Pantobe was born on 24th November, 1915 in the French overseas territory of Guadleoupe, a Caribbean island in the Leeward islands. He was a successful professional boxer before turning to wrestling, where he was a big name in France and Spain. He came to Britain in 1951 and again in 1952 with opponents that included Jim Armstrong, Bert Assirati, Ernie Baldwin, and Bill Verna. After retiring from the ring Jim Pantobe became an optician in Paris.

Con Papalazarou 
A Greek technician who was a favourite of Greeks around the world. Hold and counter hold was the style of this wrestler who visited the UK during the winter of 1963-4 whilst allegedly the World Junior Heavyweight Champion. He came to Britain following visits to France, Germany, Lebanon, Australia and the United States. The Wrestler magazines assertion that he had remained undefeated for ten years seemed less than credible to us as he notched up a sequence of British defeats, not just against the usual suspects Georges Gordienko, Bill Robisnon and Josef Zaranoff but against lesser lights that included Johnny Czeslaw.

Our suspicions were confirmed by  Australian historian Ed Lock: “While Con Papalazarou was a fine wrestler, his alleged "undefeated for ten years" record contained losses to Angelo Savoldi (on Thursday 11 February 1960 in Sydney, Australia), Leo Garibaldi (on Thursday 18 August 1960 in Sydney, Australia), Baron Von Heczey (on Friday 12 July 1963 in Sydney, Australia) and Sheik Wadi Ayoub (on Saturday 17 August 1963 in Melbourne, Australia and again on Monday 19 August 1963 in Adelaide, Australia). I imagine that Papalazarou also suffered a number of defeats during his North American tours. “

Papalazarou visited Australia three times, the first two for George Gardiner and the third for WCW. Usually a main eventer he was, as everywhere, popular with the Greek community, with impressive victories over Tosh Togo, Lucky Suminovich, Dr Jerry Graham and Tony Galento. Australian wrestler John Marshall recalled Con in the dressing room habitually standing in front of a mirror flexing his muscles. So habitually that referee Ron Hansen wheeled a full length mirror into the dressing room. Intended as a joke but Con Papalazarou loved it.

Wrestling historian Phil Lions  also reported that Papalazarou lost the Greek Heavyweight Title to Dimitris Karystinos in 1954 in Athens, and that Haralambos Karpozilos also beat Papalazarou in 1958 in Greece.

Angelo Papini
We know very little about Angelo Papini, but the little we do know suggests he was a hard man, reputed to be a difficult opponent who was hard to handle.  Always billed as Italian we cannot confirm this and neither can we find any records of an Angelo Papini in the UK birth records of the appropriate period. So whether or not he was Italian, or whether or not that was his name we don't know.  We first come across him in 1951, wrestling the Golden Arrow. Appearances become more frequent the following year, suggesting a capable wrestler meeting the usual cross section of lighter heavyweights like Mike Demitre, Count Bartelli, Spencer Churchill and Dennis Mitchell. These and the other opponents we find suggest nothing out of the ordinary. He disappears from our records in 1953, believed to accompany Bert Assirati on a tour to India. He returns to Britain in 1957, this time working for independent promoters.

Ray Parkes
Craggy faced Darlington heavyweight active for Joint Promotions during an intensive three-year period from 1969 before, like so many before and after him, disappearing abruptly and without trace. Born in 1940, Ray was an amateur boxer who later turned to wrestling and enrolling at the Gladstone Street Youth centre in Darlington. In his early twenties Ray turned his attention to making a bit of money from his talent and decided there was no better way to learn the rougher rudiments of the professional ring than follow in the footsteps of Bull Davis, Kincaid and many others; dedicating 4½ years to learning the trade in fairground wrestling and boxing booths.  He then graduated to independent promotions on his way to meeting Judo Pete Roberts at the Royal Albert Hall in 1971 and other top heavyweights such as Gwyn Davies, Tibor Szakacs, Wayne Bridges and Rocky Wall in Joint Promotion rings. 

Parks, Roy
See the entry for Mr Big

Bill Parky 
When it came to muscles Manchester's Bill Parky had them in abundance. Yet it hadn't always been that way. The muscular Bill Parkinson, who came into wrestling after winning the Mr Britain competition, was not particularly muscular or strong when he served in the R.A.F. It was there, in 1951, he and a friend, Henry Downs joined up as training partners. They devised their own training routine and the results were remarkable. Working with weights and eating a naturally high protein diet Bill, who began the routine weighing just 8 stones 10 pounds,  gained almost nine stones of pure muscle. Just four years later Bill Parkinson won the Mr Britain competition. For the following four years Bill toured Britain posing and demonstrating his strength in halls and on television. In 1959 he joined the ranks of the professional wrestlers, working for the independent promoters, opponents included Jack Rowlands, Earl Maynard, Flash Lee Edwards and Terry O'Neill. Name recognition from his body building pursuits gave him instantaneous top billing.In 1962 he was signed by Joint Promotions. For a year or so he worked with big names such as Billy Joyce, Gerry DeJaeger and The Mask before returning to the independents in 1963 and fading away.

Page revised 22/02/2020: Entry for Con Papalazarou revised
27/12/2019: Entries for Bobby Palmer,Con Papalazarou, Angelo Papini and Bill Parky revised