S: Starsky - St Bernard
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The Lancashire town of Wigan was not the only one famous for coal minining and wrestling. Mossblown, a village in South Ayrshire, Scotland, also produced an abundance of the black stuff and skilled professional wrestlers.
For those who have read Dale Storm's book, "Ask Him Again Ref!" the wrestling gym in the village of Mossblown needs no introduction. Dale Storm, Bruce Welch, Big Ian Miller, Scott Thomson, Bull Wilson, Mike O'Hagan and dozens of others, including Young Jim Starsky, graduated from the Mossblown gym. We guess none of them would claim to be a Jack Dempsey or Billy Joyce, but they were every bit as dedicated and all were very capable wrestlers who devoted their lives to entertaining the wrestling public. Most nights of the week the Scottish terrain demanded they travelled more miles than most of their English counterparts to far flung venues around Scotland.
Around 1970 Young Jim Starsky joined the regulars at the Mossblown gym. He was just sixteen years old when he was taken under the wing of Dale Storm. Not long left school, just starting out in his first job as a mechanic, and with all the interests of a teenager young Jim needed a lot of determination to begin making an impression on the Mossblown men. In fact it was in the garage where he was serving his apprenticeship that Jim and Dale Storm first met and the youngster was invited along to the gym. Like many wrestling gyms it was not a grand affair. In common with Riley's at Wigan and The Junction in Barnsley the Mossblown gym was largely built by the young wrestlers themselves and filled with equipment they could beg, borrow, but certainly not steal. Apart from learning from the more experienced wrestlers Jim took to weight training, quickly adding a couple of stones to take him from a lightweight into the middleweight division.
Jim certainly proved that he had the necessary dedication and was a fast learner, impressing the boss of the gym enough to become his regular tag partner. The two of them were a well matched pair, both known for their fast manoeuvres, dropkicks and other high flying moves, with Jim learning to use the ropes as a means of propulsion to great advantage. Although Jim was still a teenager Dale told us, "Young Starsky was well respected both for his dedication to the sport and the upholding of its age old traditions."
His first few professional matches were for Spartan Promotions but the skilful youngster soon attracted the attention of other promoters, and began working for Jack Atherton, Orig Williams, Brian Dixon, Andy Robin and Relwyskow Green. He has told Wrestling Heritage that through all those matches his toughest opponents were Mad Michael O'Hagen, Bruce Welch and Bill Turner (Rory Campbell).
In the late 1980s with fans dwindling, shows reduced in number and television dropping wrestling from the schedules Jim decided he needed to move on, leaving the ring to begin teaching engineering at a local college.
Ray St Bernard
A very powerful heavyweight who certainly looked the part. Ray St Bernard was a one time hammer thrower who took up professional wrestling and was known as the Jewish Heavyweight Champion. A giant of a man, both physically and in reputation. He was a big man, said to be around 17 stones in the mid 1930s, who grew into an even bigger giant who weighed around 23 stones and met big names like Bulldog Bill Garnon, Douglas Clark and Mtchell Gill.
Whave found claims that on November 11th, 1934, whilst wrestling in France Ray wrestled the American World Heavyweight Champion, Strangler Lewis, in Paris. Apologies if we are wrong, but we are sceptical of those claims. We have found Ray working in Britain around that date, often wrestling a man called Strangler Burke. Call us sceptics.
His finest moment probably came when he was just twenty-five years old when he tackled former World Heavyweight Champion, Dick Shikat, in 1939 at the Tower Ballroom, Brighton. This was a titanic struggle which lasted over fifty minutes before Shikat gained the upper hand and took the bout.
St Bernard continued his wrestling career after the war, finally leaving the ring in 1950, we find him wrestling long term rival Francis St Clair Gregory at Derby on October 9th, 1950.
In that same year he went on to a bit part in the film “The Night and the City” (1950), in which he wrestled The Strangler (Mike Mazurki).
Outside of the ring Ray was a used car salesman, working for Raymond Wray, one of Britain's most successful used-car dealers.
Wrestling Heritage reader Brighton Belle recalls Ray as a big, smiling man who sported a bushy moustache and was always generous and full of fun.