R: Rasmussen - Raven
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Leif Rasmussed was the blond heavyweight from Copenhagen who was dubbed the "King of the Vikings" when he visited Britain in 1954 and returned for an extensive tour of southern England during the winter months of 1964- 1965. Reality was that the Nordic Viking was Austrian, born in Vienna, with the birth name of Franz Vorhemus.
A six year amateur career led to a professional debut when he was eighteen years old. A liberal interpretation of the rules meant that the King of the Vikings was not exactly cheered by the fans, and disqualification losses were not unknown.
Amongst losses against the best of the natives he was able to claim a surprising Royal Albert Hall win over Steve Veidor. He was one of the many colourful characters who graced British and European rings in the 1950s and 1960s.
The name most often associated with the name Rasputin is that of the wild Irishman Johnny Howard, who is listed under the letter H. Another famed Rasputin, outside of the UK was Frank Hoy, otherwise known as Wild Angus Campbell. We have a couple of other masked Rasputin's for you. Manchester's Harold Wrigley and Leeds' Jim Armstrong took the name in the independent rings of the 1960s, the latter a masked version.
1950s heavyweight Jack Ratcliffe, from Bingley in Yorkshire, turned to wrestling after completing his national service. We have no further information, other than his father collapsed and died at a wrestling tournament in Keighley having just watched his son wrestle.
Lou Ravelle is remembered not just as a pro wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s, oft under the guise of Le Masque Rouge, but also as the owner of one of London's first fitness gymnasiums, editor of Wrestling World magazine, a bookshop owner in Bloomsbury, and in later life a hypnotherapist in Majorca.
Lou wrestled as an amateur at Manchester YMCA before being introduced to fairground wrestling by his friend Jean Morandi. In the fairground booths he learned many of the techniques that would prove essential in the professional ring, “We were paid 15/- for the match. If it was a good match fans would be invited to throw money into the ring, “nobbins,” and forom those we could make another 30/- each.”
When he moved to London Lou began working for Dale Martin Promotions. He befriended a young Australian named Paul Lincoln, and provided valuable publicity for the fledgling promoter through the Wrestling World magazine, “Paul paid me handsomely for the work I did promoting the Dr Death v White Angel match.”
Editor of Wrestling World magazine, which covered both independent and Joint Promotion wrestlers, Lou was adamant when he spoke to us fifty years later that whilst the independent promoters were supportive Joint Promotions “Squashed us and after two years we were forced to fold up.”
Lou Ravelle was a mainstay of the London wrestling scene over twenty years, a member of wrestling's greatest haunt, The Mandrake Club, and was close friends with Paul Lincoln, Al Hayes, Joe D'Orazio, Bert Assirati and many other big names.
In 2004 Lou received the Oscar Heidenstam award for his lifetime contribution to sport.
Ripper Raven (Also known as Iska Khan)
A great 1960s - 1980s villain on both the independent and Joint Promotions circuit, and a man who could rouse the emotions of fans. We first saw him on an independent bill around 1970, when he used the pseudonym Iska Khan.
Said to have been Mongolian, but Blackpool was closer to the truth for the fearsome, shaven headed (apart from a pony tail) heavyweight. John Raven was was a very believable Iska Khan, from Fleetwood in Lancashire. Working for Joint Promotions he assumed the name Ripper Raven, and was good heavyweight toughie. In half a dozen or so televised contests in the 1980s he was matched with quality opponents that included Andy Robin and Tiger Gil Singh.
“I worked with Ripper Raven in his previous existence as Iska Khan from Mongolia - and very good he looked, too. He was accompanied into the ring by a beautiful oriental girl second. As we know, all was not quite as it seemed. Iska was a local lad and he told me the girl was on loan from a Chinese restaurant in Blackpool.
He described to me his trips as a deep sea trawlerman; both of them. He said the first one was so horrendous, to Icelandic waters that he felt he had to try again but the second trip was worse than the first. So he stuck to wrestling and became a real crowd pleaser both as the exotic Khan and as General Ripper Raven. Wrestling's gain and Bird Eye's loss.”
The character changed and the ponytail was lost in the 1980s when he transformed into General Ripper Raven.