M: Sean McNeil
It wasn't just the wrestling; it was the smile and the good that humour made Sean McNeil a fans favourite. Even with an occasional bending of the rules the Sean's charm would quickly regain the affections of the crowd.
Sean was a youngster, about seven years old, when he began Sunday morning visits to the St Lukes Amateur Matmen near his home in Middlesbrough. At first he was reluctant to join in and was content to just watch the wrestlers. Witha bit of encouragement it wasn't long though before he was rolling around the mat with none other than Norman Walsh, the mid heavyweight champion. Norman was a hero to Sean and he soon decided that he too wanted to be a wrestler like Norman.
Mind you, Sean was a bit too enthusiastic, and before long the parents of neighbours children were knocking on the McNeil door to complain that young Sean was trying out his newly learned skills on their precious little ones. Following a short ban by his mother Sean was back at St Lukes and learning to wrestle.
When he was sixteen he joined the St Lukes troupe that put on wrestling shows and raised thousands of pounds for charity. In 1958 Sean turned semi-professional and began a twenty year career that working for most of the independent promoters, notably Don Robinson, Cyril Knowles, Jackie Pallo and George Kidd.
Sean travelled far and wide but turned down the opportunity to work for Joint Promotions as he did not want to commit himself to leaving his family on a regular basis. He remembers great matches with other northern favourites Dicky Swales, Pedro the Gypsy, Butcher Goodman and Boy Devlin, alongside higher profile stars such as Ricky Starr and The Wild Man of Borneo.
Sean keeps up to date with his north east wrestling pals with their weekly Monday afternoon meetings and is a regular attendee at the Reunions of Blackpool and Ayr.