British wrestling history 

A: Sheik wadi Ayoub

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Sheik Wadi Ayoub

The Lebanese Heavyweight visitor was an impressive figure in 1961 when he  travelled to Britain and met the very best on offer.  His visit was a small part of a prolongued world tour that lasted from 1958 until 1963.

We have uncovered wins over the top men  that included Ernie Baldwin, Dave Armstrong, Billy Joyce, Albert Wall, Zebra Kid, Geoff Portz, Terry Ricardo,  Ian Campbell, Tibor Szakacs, you get the idea?  Okay, this was pro wrestling and results are not the sole indicator of skill. But a man who was allowed to come to Britain and consistently defeat men of that calibre obviously had the support and respect of the promoters.

All the more surprising (or was it?) that he should lose to the ever popular Dazzler Joe Cornelius at the Royal Albert Hall. Cornelius was the local blue-eye at the Royal Albert Hall and this is  surely a result that tells us much about the mechanism of professional wrestling. Mind you, before we become too sycophantic, that's not our style on Heritage, we have been told by authorative Australian sources that his success in the land down under did not equal that in Singapore or India. He appeared in some main events but not consistently. Working frequently for  promoter George  Gardiner and later World Championship Wrestling he  often headlined smaller cards  but didn't match top blue-eyes Alex Iakovidis and Elias Panagos or visiting stars on larger shows.

With that bit of balance out of the way we can tell you that Earl Black, who worked with Sheik Wadi in Singapore towards the end of the decade was an admirer. He told Wrestling Heritage "He was a handsome man, a brilliant conversationalist who was very charming."  

Born in Beirut in 1927, Wadi Yousef Ayoub moved to Australia when he was twenty-four, shortly after becoming the Lebanese Greco Roman amateur champion.  Weight training at the famous Dovey's gym in Sydney enabled Wadi Ayoub to increase his weight to over 16 stones.  He turned professional wrestler  in 1953 and made his Australian debut at Leichardt Stadium in Sydney on 14th March, with the Sydney Herald reporting a "technical disqualification" for the Lebanese newcomer as he wrestled John Morro. Morro was a frequent opponent in the early days.

Wadi Ayoub shortly embarked on an extensive tour of India, wrestling the likes of Joginder Singh and Dara Singh. He returned to Australia in 1956 before going on to travel even more extensively.  A world tour began with a very succesful visit to Singapore and equally succeful return to India. By the time he arrived in Europe Sheik Wadi Ayoub was established as a wrestling star of international repute. Belgium and France were followed by an arrival in Britain, where we find him in February defeating Ernest Baldwin. During the first two weeks he worked mainly in the north of England for Relwyskow & Green and Wryton Promotions before making his London debut for Dale Martin Promotions at the Royal Albert Hall on 15th February.  That was the occasion of his defeat at the hands of Dazzler Joe Cornelius. Although Wadi defeated most of the top heavyweights he was certainly not invincible and we find defeats against Billy Joyce, Geoff Portz and The Mask. His sole television appearance came in June, a win over Ian Campbell when the Scot was disqualfied.

Wadi Ayoub left Britain in October, 1961, taking a slow, two year trip to Australia and calling in at Pakistan, India, Singapore and Thailand.On his return Ayoub headlined most In 1967 at the White City Tennis Courts (next door to Sydney Stadium) he defeated King Kong for the  Orient Heavyweight title. He headlined many of the small club-based promotions and two of Gardiner's final three cards,  defending his title  against  Prince Kumali. For WCW during 1972  he main evented against Americans Killer Karl Kox and Don Carson, and Canadian Brute Bernard .In 1973,  he      had a main event series against Bob Roop, another wrestler well known to British fans.

Sheikh Wadi Ayoub was still in his prime in 1976 when he prematurely died on 29th September, a victim of cancer.

Page added 15/02/2020