R: Rowe - Royle
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Eric Savage was just 16 years old when he became Steve Rowe, a fast moving lightweight who the fans took to straight away.
That was in 1968 following a grounding in the rudiments of the professional ring by wrestler and promoter Terry Goodrum. At the same time the youngster was training as a nurse and working in a hospital. Between shifts he would be travelling around working for the independent promoters.
He made a good impression and in March, 1972, was featured in The Wrestler magazine where he was named one of the most promising wrestlers on the scene.
Although he worked mostly for the independent promoters, such as Terry Goodrum and Allan & Taylor, Steve was signed up by Joint Promotions and the youngster was soon sharing a dressing room with the idols he had watched on television only a few years earlier - Les Kellett, Shirley Crabtree and the Cortez brothers amongst them.
For Steve it was a short lived career, though one he enjoyed immensely, as he took the decision to concentrate on work outside the ring and retired in 1975.
Digger Rowell (Also known as Black Mask, Dr No)
Not the most skilful wrestler in the world, but an all action style and thorough wrestling knowledge made this globe trotting Australian (born in Sunderland, England) a favourite around Europe. Charles Rowell, that was his real name, began wrestling whilst a PT instructor in the Australian army. In 1954 he won the “Mr Sydney” title. His style was one that excited fans, combining strength, speed and ruggedness with the aim of wearing down opponents and winning by submission. Moved around continental Europe, the UK with the odd visit home throughout the first half of the 1960s decade. Occasionally donned an appropriately coloured hood and wrestled as The Black Mask or Dr No.
Jack Rowland (Also known as Beau Jack, The Ringer)
Stockport heavyweight Jack Rowlands, whose athletic build and dark, handsome features led to an alternative billing as "Beau Jack" graduated through the 1960s independent rings into Joint Promotion territory. As a youngster Jack watched the wrestling near his home at the Levenshulme Ice Rink, where his favourites included Jack Pye and Tommy Mann. He trained at the Manchester YMCA, encouraged by the Canadian Carl Van Wurden, before turning professional in 1960 for the independent promoters. In those days there were sufficient independent shows every night in southern Lancashire and Yorkshire to give a youngster an excellent grounding in the professional business. We always felt that those early matches in which we saw him against villains such as The Ghoul, Lord Bertie Topham and Dai Sullivan were the ones where we enjoyed him the most. On Monday 10th October, 1966, he moved across to Joint Promotions, losing to Don Vines at Carlisle. For the following fifteen years Jack remained a popular figure in British and overseas ring, holding his own against the top heavyweights but never really making it into the big league. His career extended into the early 1980s.
Tony Rowney (Tony Rowley, Ring Gladiator)
Proud Yorkshireman Tony Rowney wrestled in the latter part of his career as the Ring Gladiator out of Kettering, where he had a parallel career as an unarmed combat instructor, both in the forces and in civilian life. Northamptonshire was of course Ken Joyce territory and the two had an ongoing feud, with Rowney ever the one booed by the fans. We had first become aware of him in the very early seventies with tales of wrestling lions inside their cages at the zoo His first televised bout was in 1977 against Dynamite Kid. Due to his daytime job at a steelworks, Tony was greatly limited travel-wise throughout his career, but we are sure he would have become a big name had he chosen to dedicate himself full-time to wrestling.
Tony died on 25th June 2009.
Photos exist of a young Bert Royal as a masked wrestler, which surprised us as much as his other fans. Bert Royal was one of the big name middleweights from the 1950s until the mid seventies, a Middle and Heavy Middleweight champion of long standing. Herbert Faulkner chose his ring name to avoid confusion with his father Lew Faulkner, who latterly wrestled as Vic Hessle.
Very popular, though we would dare to suggest that much of that popularity rubbed off from his far more youthful looking brother, Vic Faulkner. Nonetheless, he was exceedingly well-liked, and an acrobatic, skilful wrestler, albeit criticised by Jackie Pallo for an unwillingness to allow opponents look good. In balance we have to report that others have not shared Pallo's views and quite a few wrestlers have reported the joys of wrestling Bert Royal. A Bert Royal bout was certainly full of joy for fans also, whether it be a clean, scientific affair against another technician or bringing about the come-uppance of villains such as Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus or Chic Purvey. Forty years on whenever fans discuss the wrestling of old the name Bert Royal is usually one of the first to crop up.
Related article: On The Trail of Bert Royal on www.wrestlingheritage.com
Wrestling Heritage member Duncan remembers 1960s independent wrestler Roy Royal billed as “A famous wrestler from a famous family.” Duncan posed the question, which famous family? Please get in touch if you can provide more information.