S: St John - Starr
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
Ian St John
Speed merchant Ian St John was a favourite on the independent circuit in the 1960s and one time tag partner of Johnny Saint. Billed from Scotland Ian's birth name was Harry Walsh and he lived in Accrington where he worked as a joiner and ran a security business training guard dogs. He was most definitely Accrington ‘arry.
When younger Ian was a military policeman in the army. Trained by Bob Bannister at his gymnasium in Accrington. In the ring Ian was a wiry lightweight, very fast and acrobatic, often in action with another speedy lightweight, Andreas Svajik. Those who didn’t see Ian St John in action will probably not imagine just how fast he could move.
Very popular amongst fans Ian was also highly respected amongst colleagues. Eddie Rose told us, "A great wrestler and a very good friend with a dry sense of humour. I wrestled him on quite a few occasions and for quite a few promoters, too, and it was always a pleasure. That is, if you could keep up with him!"
Ayr's Dale Storm also recalled Ian with fondness, "He was quick, he was skilful, and he was above all, very, very generous! And he was always very safe to work with. I really liked the man and I respected his ability immensely. I learned a lot from my time in the ring with him."
Ian moved across to Joint Promotions in 1969, working mainly for Wryton Promotions in the north and midlands. Ian died on 7th December, 2012, aged 83.
Stephen St John
Stephen St John had wrestling in his blood, because dad was John L Hagar, one of the great villains of the independent rings. Dad was a regular worker for promoter Brian Trevors and took his son along to Brian's gym in 1967. For Brian Trevors it was important that all his pupils took their studies seriously and gained a thorough foundation in how to wrestle. For Stephen his training was timely, as Brian's promotional business was just beginning to grow (he hadn't long moved to the area from Yorkshire) and as Stephen's skill grew so did the size of the halls in which Brian promoted! Brian Trevors' contract to provide wrestling shows for numerous holiday camps around East Anglia gave his apprentices the chance to gain a lot of experience in a relatively short time. Stephen St John learned quickly and worked regularly for the independent promoters throughout the 1970s and in to the mid 1980s.
Ex Seaman Stacey
Read our extended tribute: A Wrestling Comedian
Popular welterweight from Witham in Essex turned professional when he was sixteen years old, working for the independent promoters in the 1970s.
We would like to learn more about Mancunian Johnny Stafford. Weighed around 12 stones, Johnny worked around northern England in the 1940s. Said to have been the first opponent of Danny Flynn in the late 1930s the first time we find him wrestling was in 1944.
See the entry for Talio Kid
Red Staranoff (Zaranoff)
See the entry for Josef Zaranoff
The stylish German heavyweight with American citizenship made a good impression on British fans during his visits spanning 1967 to 1970. His methodical textbook style and some rather nifty high flying manoeuvres made a pleasing contrast to the majority of imported heavyweights. Certainly not invincible the popular German matured over time and visibly improved over successive tours, which tended to be southern biased. Notable achievements included three scalps in one night at the Royal Albert in April 1968, cutting through Count Bartelli, Professor Adiwasser and Jim Hussey to take the Royal Albert Hall in his place. Drawn verdicts at the same venu against both of the top masked men of the time, The Outlaw and Kendo Nagasaki, cemented his popularity at the Kensington venue. At other times results were more mixed, surprisingly being held some midcarders on occasions and suffering straight falls defeats against Mike Marino and Billy Robinson. Wolfgang was the son of Rudi Saturski who had held Mike Marino to a draw at the Royal Albert Hall in 1956.
We discover the muscular Dave Starr in the 1950s as Herculean Dave Starr with wins over Doug Joyce, Jack Atherton and (an admittedly young) Gwyn Davies. The boy must have had something.
He certainly did. Those muscles were due to a long time interest in body building. Leeds born in 1920, as David Cohen, his enthusiasm for body building led to him successfully encouraging 16 year old Reg Park to take up the sport. Until he met, and began training under the guidance of David Cohen, Park’s only sporting interest had been football. Park went on to become Mr Britain and Mr Universe.
By 1952 it was a change of name, to Dave Starr, and a change of sport to professional wrestling. We come across him for the first time in May, 1952, wrestling Abdul the Turk. Other opponents included Dennis Mitchell, Jim Anderson and Ernest Baldwin. Leeds Town Hall was a favourite venue, and it was here that Dave wrestled on the same bill as World Heavyweight Champion Frank Sexton in Septembe, 1952. The venture into wrestling was short lived, around two years, despite making an impression with his fine physique and wins over established stars in Britain and Germany.
Dave Starr had bigger things on his mind. Another change of name, to David Morgan, and the opening in the early 1960s of The David Morgan Health Club, in Hanover Square, Mayfair, London. Not just any old club; this was the club to be seen at. The Dave Morgan Health Club gained some fame and was frequented by celebrities of the day, such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Marlon Brando, Andy Williams, Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Tarbuck, Rod Steiger and Richard Harris, until closure in 1975.
Dave Starr died in London in 2011 aged 91.