WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Sid Cooper


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Sid Cooper


(Also known as Norman Cooper)


The early incarnation of a short, blond haired Norman Cooper turned into the Yorkshire tearaway from Queensberry,  Sid Cooper.  Few could swagger or glare at the fans like Sid. They booed as he bent the rules, and booed even louder  when his inevitable protests that he was   innocent  followed. The Wrestler magazine claimed he had three times been sacked from previous jobs for arguing with the boss. Sounds feasible, but could well be wrestling nonsense as the man out of the ring would bear little resemblance to the character inside.

But oh, how we all loved him. In all the years existence of Wrestling Heritage, going back to 2007, we don't recall anyone that did not appreciate Sid's ring craft. And it was ring craft. Not just the amateur training at the Great Northern Club in Bradford, the showmanship learnt on the fairground booths, professional flair from Eric Taylor but Sid's ability to control the emotions of a crowd just by the way he looked at them. 

David Sutherland, an enthusiast from Newcastle: "When I first saw Sid Cooper (or Norman as we knew him up North) he looked the type of villain that you would want to hate with every bone in your body! However shortly after that when I started to find the bad guys more interesting he became the leader for me along with the likes of Chic Purvey and Bruno Elrington. Later I was to see him around St James' Hall when I was working there and soon discovered that he was as genuine a bloke outside the ring as he was a pariah in it. One of my all time favourites."

Rasit Huseyin was another fan: "Sid Cooper was a great character, could really wind the crowd up by just scowling at them, and always came up with good one-liners if any member of the crowd gave him any stick.  He didn't win too many matches, but always gave good value for money, and a very nice guy outside of the ring as well."

In the topsy turvey world of professional wrestling the loss of matches was a sign of just how good he was. Sid was a loyal professional who could be trusted by promoters  to train and develop younger wrestlers, generously allowing them to blossom. 

A professional debut came in the early 1960s, certainly no later than 1961, with the early  billing of the birth name Norman Cooper that soon gave way to Sid Cooper in most halls.  Television exposure came in 1963. Various sources claim  four different television bebuts  but the earliest realistic one is in December against Alan Colbeck at Lime Grove Baths, though Russell plummer cites the following year against Jackie Pallo. Irrespective of the start date Sid was to have one of the longest and most prolific of all television careers, notching up well over ninety contests between his debut and his final ITV match in November, 1988. 

Away from the screens he was a busy worker for Joint Promotions throughout that period, travelling up and down the country night after night, with occasional visits to mainland Europe, working in France and Belgium. "He must have appeared at almost every venue that Joint used. Instantly recognizable, rough, villainous and always gave the fans their moneys worth," said enthusiast Powerlock.

Sid's profile was raised in 1965 when he began tagging with fellow Yorkshireman Alan Dennison. Their trademark were  thick, black, studded  belts and a nice line in skulduggery. It is believed the Dennison's match against the Cortez brothers on 11th January, 1965, at Belle Vue in Manchester was their first public appearance. We guess that many in the crowd were surprised to witness a win for the new pairing over the popular brothers. It took just 21 minutes (typical of most tag matches) for the winning fall.

Sid was very much an equal partner to Dennison and their matches against the Royals, Black Diamonds, Stewarts and Cadmans were enjoyed by thousands of fans. Highlight for the pairing was no doubt in July 1968 when Dale Martin Promotions matched them against the Royal brothers in the presence of HRH Prince Philip. The following year it was London's gain and Bradford's loss when Sid moved to the capital in 1969, ending a great tag partnership.

Yet Sid was just as great an attraction in his own right and his career as a singles wrestler continued to develop, with a six month stint as British welterweight champion between May and August 1985. That's an incredible quarter of a century after joining the professional ranks. It was a career to extend into the 1990s. That's a lot of enjoyment. Sapper James said "He put his heart and soul into entertaining the punters." 

No more could be asked.

Sid Cooper died on 6th July, 2021.

Page added 08/07/2021