S: Swan - Szakacs
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Joe was a Hungarian refugee from the same uprising that saw Tibor and Peter Szakacs arrive in the UK. He had amateur experience in Hungary and turned professional in this country mainly to supplement his income as a swimming instructor and baths manager.
He lived in Levenshulme, Manchester quite close to Jack Atherton, Grant Foderingham and several other wrestlers. He trained at various gyms including Panther's gym.
He wrestled as a middleweight but would take on all comers regardless. His opponents included Billy Graham, Mad Mike Mahoney, Jimmy Lewis, Ian "Mad Dog" Wilson, Roy Fortuna, Eddie Rose and Pete Lindberg. He worked mainly
for the Independent promoters rather than Joint Promotions.
Later he tried his hand at promoting with mixed results. He could go from a full-house one night to an empty one the next and eventually this ebullient, good humoured wrestler decided to call quits on the wrestling scene and concentrate on leisure management. He left the Manchester area in the late '70s, address unknown but rumoured to be in the south Midlands.
Born in Budapest in 1930, grew up in the Transylvanian town of Szatmarnetdi, the British wrestling public were forever grateful that Hungarian Peter Szakacs lived his adult life in Britain, most of those years in Brixton, London, not far from the Dale Martin gym where he trained and left most nights of the week to venues around the south of England. Szatmarnetdi, a Romanian town since 1919, was returned to Hungary in 1940. This gave the Szakacs family the opportunity to move to the town from Budapest in 1942, when Peter was twelve years old. Following the Second World War the town was returned to Romania and the Szakacs family moved back to Budapest.
It was the Hungarian uprising of 1956 that brought Peter and elder brother Tibor to Britain. Born on March 24th, 1930, Peter was already an experienced amateur wrestler in his native land. The brothers left Hungary in the winter of 1956-7, made their way to England and were temporarily housed at a refugee centre in Worcestershire.
Tibor moved to London and was the first to enter the professional ranks in Britain. Peter followed shortly afterwards, moving to Brixton and being introduced to Jack Dale, who gave him his professional wrestling opportunity. By the winter of 1958 Peter was travelling most nights of the week to wrestle around the south of England. It was inevitable that the lighter of the two brothers would remain overshadowed by big brother, but that should not diminish his status as a stalwart supporting wrestlers for two decades. Peter was on a roll in the mid-sixties with a 1964 Royal Albert Hall victory over Al Miquet and two 1966 televised bouts against Mr TV Pallo, on both occasions coming within a whisker of victory. Remembered not just as a value for money singles wrestler Peter also tagged with Zoltan Boscik, as the Magyars, a pairing that held their own with any team in the land. A reliable and consistent performer Peter's wrestling career was brought to a premature end through injury. That was by no means the end as career made an equally successful second career as one of Dale Martin's most respected referees. Peter also appeared in the Dickie Henderson show and the film Snatch.
Peter Szakacs died in April, 2015.
Record five-time winner of the coveted Royal Albert Hall Tournament Trophy, wrestling's F.A. Cup, Hungarian Army Officer Tibor fled to Britain in December 1956 and immediately started a career-long association with Joint Promotions, from his first professional contest in January the following year in Ramsgate against Billy Joyce. A classically trained purist, he was nevertheless dour in his unsmiling approach and grimaced extensively, as left. His counter holds were a pleasure to behold, and for one so skilful it was always rather anomolous that his speciality should have been a back-handed chop to the chest when he was the master of suplexes, flying tackles and other more scientific manoeuvres.
Only limited success on his rare ventures to the German international tournaments but a largely unvanquished Union Jack-flying defender in the face of visiting heavyweights, whether technicians like Tibor himself or rule benders.
Occasionally partnered Steve Viedor and brother Peter in tag, a rare twin autographed tag picture of the brothers is forthcoming on this site, but the most notable of his limited tag appearances was his 1966 pairing with Henri Pierrot in the match that led to Nagasaki and Bartelli falling out and The Count subsequently being unmasked. Sustained a serious eye injury in a later solo bout against Kendo Nagasaki.
His career ended with sad showings in silly tag bouts against the belly butt brigade, due to ignorant promoters being unable to showcase his undoubtedly slick skills in a suitably appealing manner. Landlord of the Lord Palmerston in King’s Road Chelsea and featured in a downbeat 2005 BBC radio programme from a snobbish yet terminally low-life Hungarian emigré who decided it was his preroragitive to make detrimental comments about fans and practitioners of the magnificent concept that was British Professional Wrestling.
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