N: Ramon Napolitano

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

Ramon Napolitano

The international star was everything that the fans anticipated ... big, muscular, skilful. But all was not as it seemed. The exotic sounding name was genuine enough, but the man from North Carolina had a family heritage just a bit closer to home. Ramon Napolitano was born in West Ham, London, on 2nd February, 1928.  Those fans with memories going back to 1951 may even have remembered him the first time around.

When he was three years old Ramon's family emigrated to Australia, where he lived until just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939, when the family returned to London.

As a young teenager during the early 1940s Ray took an interest in wrestling, which had been very popular in Britain before the war. He was called up to the army in 1946, spending much of his time overseas in the Far East, Middle East, and Malta. It was whilst in the Far East that Ramon began wrestling professionally. We have read that he used a pseudonym, Tinker Todd, to protect his status as an amateur boxer. We can't verify that, but we have found the name Ramon Napolitano on the wrestling bills of Singapore in 1947.

On his return to Britain he continued wrestling, again using his birth name, Ramon Napolitano. Our earliest British appearance can be found in June, 1951, with opponents that included Docker Don Stedman, Charlie Fisher and Vic Hessle. The following year Ramon plied the Atlantic as a crew member of the Queen Mary.  

At the end of the year he settled in the United States, wrestling in North Carolina under the name Tinker Todd. Well, Tinker Todd at times. Ramon worked North America in the 1950s using a variety of names that also included Daniel Knapp and Jerry Mace.

With his wanderlust and family members still in Britain the old country was never too far away and Ramon returned to Britain in September, 1958. By now he was an "American heavyweight" who the Liverpool Echo proclaimed was making his British debut when he wrestled Dominic Pye at the Stadium. Little did they know. Ramon remained  a  familiar figure until 1962, dodging from one side of the Atlantic to another.  He was a main eventer wrestling only the biggest names in the heavyweight division. The highlight, though, must have been the night he wrestled Gideon Gidea at the Royal Albert Hall, suffering one of his occasional defeats. In 1962, back on the other side of the Atlantic Ramon (as Oliver Winrush) tagged with Alan Garfield on his American visit.

Our last sighting of Ramon Napolitano in britain came in 1965. A planned visit to the Royal Albert Hall in December, 1966 failed to materialise, his place being taken by Nick Barone to lose to Judo Al Hayes.

Ramon Napolitano was credited by Billy Two Rivers as the man who encouraged him to visit the UK.  

In Britain he was a fine heavyweight who tangled with the best. Elsewhere he remained a mid carder in America, wrestling as Tinker Todd, Danny Knapp around North Carolina, one time partner in the Kangaroos tag team as Ray St Clair and stereotypical British villain as Sir Oliver Winrush. Ramon retired from wrestling in 1972.

He died on 14th July, 2013. At the time of his death Canadian Wrestling Heritage member and erstwhile Wrestler columnist Bob Leonard wrote, "We'll miss seeing him sit in his chair, with barking little dogs on his lap, at his feet and on his shoulders as Danny spun another yarn. We'll miss his stories and his irreverent sense of humor."

Page added 12/07/2020