S: Sexton- Siki
Wrestling Heritage A - Z
A prestigious wrestling visitor came to Britain and Europe in 1950. Frank Sexton, a thirty six year old from Ohio, was the AWA World Heavyweight Champion, and reckoned by some to be the best of the World champions at the time. He was one of the few American World Champions to defend his title in Europe during his tour in the early months of 1950. The Dane Ivor Martinsen (6/1/50), Frenchmen Henri de Glane (13/1/50), and Felix Miquet (28/3/50), and two Briton’s Bert Assirati (11/2/50) and Bert Mansfield (7/3/50) all failed to take the title from Sexton. Both Mansfield at the Harringay Arena, and Assirati in Belgium, held the American to a draw. Sexton’s title was to remain intact throughout his European tour, but his five year reign came to an end a few months later with a loss to Don Eagle on 23rd May in Cleveland, Ohio.
The popular motor mechanic and welterweight from Doncaster was one time tag partner of Catweazle Gary Cooper in the independent rings of the north, where he also had many bouts with Al Marshall.
Born in Doncaster in 1934 Dave came into the professional business quite late in life, turning professional in 1967. At first he worked the independent rings of the north for Cyril Knowles and Ace Promotions. In 1970 George DeRelwyskow signed him up to work for Joint Promotions, the proviso being that Dave was available for work travelling further afield to George's Scottish venues. A good pro, remembered by fans , but frequently for many enjoyable matches against his friend Catweazle, and two televised contests, one against Catweazle and the other versus Little Prince. Dave disappeared from our rings in the late 1970s. We were saddened to hear of his death in December, 2014.
Syed Saif Shah
Memories of Pakistan's heavyweight Syed Saif Shah are of a quiet, methodical wrestler who seemed to confront his opponent as if he was involved in a strategic game. On television we had seen him in action against villaisn Roy Bull Davis, Ian Campbell and Johnny Yearsley as well as good guys Johnny Allan and John Cox. Those matches were nothing compared to the first time we saw him live, against Klondyke Bill, recently having joined Joint Promotions. Disciplined precision was thrown out of the window when the usually calm Syed Saif Shah exploded.
Saif was born in Punjab, India, in 1926, moving to Delhi and becoming a resident of Pakistan following partition. He was already a professional wrestler when he arrived in Britain, where we have found him facing Prince Kumali in January, 1960. Dale Martin Promotions signed him up for Joint Promotions and he quickly established himself as a mainstay of British wrestling.
National attention came his way in 1961, when he was matched with Roy Bull Davis on television. It was to be the first of more than a dozen televised contests. Syed Saif Shah was a methodical scientific tactician that appealed to fans who liked wrestlers with a classical style. Throughout the 1960s he wrestled the top heavyweights in Britain, with frequent sojourns to Europe and the Far East.
Deeply religious, publicity was given to his pilgrimage to Mecca at a time we knew little of such things.
In 1970 he moved to the independents, a frequent opponent of Klondyke Bill, Count Bartelli, and Josef Zaranoff. He later returned to live in Pakistan.
1980s Pakistani heavyweight worked in Britain and Germany. Wrestled on ITV wrestling three times between June 1977 and August 1988.
Michael Gallagher was born in William Street, Derry, in 1950. He was destined to become known to wrestling fans as Mick Shannon a regular worker for Dale Martin Promotions around southern England in the 1970s. Like many others wrestling was not his first sporting interest. It was an interest in boxing whilst serving in the Royal Navy that eventually led Mick to hang up the gloves and turn to wrestling.
Living in Kent Mick was signed up by Joint Promotions, working mostly for Dale Martin Promotions around the south of England. Cyanide Sid Cooper was an early opponent, and the two of them were to meet many times over the years, clearly a match that the fans enjoyed. Other opponents included many of the top lighter men around at the time: Alan Sergeant, Sid Cooper, Joe Murphy, Peter Szakacs and Zoltan Boscik. Highlight of his career was most likely 22nd September, 1976, when he partnered Jon Cortez at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall in opposition to Bert Royal and Vic Faulkner. He returned to the Royal Albert Hall a year later, this time a double knock out being the ending to Mick's clash with Gary Wensor.
In 1979, along with many other Joint Promotions stars, Mick crossed over to work for the independent promoters. With greater experience and a little more poundage he was matched with heavier men like Fit Finlay, Tony St Clair, and a Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship challenge for Count Bartelli's belt.
Following his retirement Mick continued to live and work in Deal, Kent, until his untimely death on 11th July, 2015.
We admit to not knowing Canadian Ben Sharpe until he was brought to our attention by Graeme Cameron. That's the strength of Heritage, a community of old time fans working to piece together Britain's fragmented and largely undocumented wrestling history.
Sergeant Ben Sharpe was a visitor to Britain during the Second World War as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. It wasn't his first visit to Europe, having been here in 1936 as an oarsman in the Canadian Olympic Rowing Team. Back home in Hamilton, Ontario, he took up wrestling. With the outbreak of war he joined the Canadian Royal Airforce as a physical training instructor and was eventually posted to Britain.
We find Ben Sharpe wrestling Bulldog Bill Garnon at Belle Vue, Manchester, in April, 1944. Frequent appearances follow against Padvo Peltonin, Alf Rawlings, Francis Gregory, Bert Mansfield and many of the top heavyweights active in northern England during the Second World War. He could often be seen in Manchester and Newcastle. Armstrong, especially was a frequent opponent, with reports of their thrilling contests.
An athletic heavyweight of around 15 stones Sharpe was a tall lad, said to stand 6 feet 5 inches tall. This being wrestling there's always a mystery, and this time it's just how did the Canadian Air Force man qualify to take part in the British heavyweight championship tournament of 1945?
Ben pursued his wrestling career following the war and in the 1950s tagged in Japan with younger brother Mike who was the father of Iron Mike Sharpe. Ben wrestled in Britain until December, 1945, returning home and then pursuing his new career in California. He and Mike were to become a dominant tag team force in North America during the 1950s until his retirement in 1962. We have been unable to find any record of Mike Sharpe wrestling in Britain during the war though he may have done so. Ben Sharpe died on 21st November, 2001.
The Bermondsey adonis was a popular middleweight of the 1950s and 1960s. A skillled and athletic wrestler he combined his talents with immense strength, he'd started out as a body builder. As a party piece Ken would tear a telephone directory in three seconds and lie on a bed of nails, though not necessarily at the same time.
Al Sherry was wrestling his way around British rings in the early 1950s. Vic Coleman, Percy Pitman, Stan Stone and Johnny Peters were amongst opponents we could find. In July 1952 he disappeared. Only to resurface in 1953 in Australia, with www.wrestlingtitles.com listing him as Australian light heavyweight champion in 1953.
Heritage member John Shelvey is on the trail, “Also does anyone have any info./ results on Englishman Allen Sherry who was a leading light in Sydney in the 50s-early 60s? …. seemed to get out just before the Yanks invaded in '64, which was just as well as the locals were looked upon as cannon fodder for the Americans and there were a lot of liberties taken with the lighter guys." Do get in touch if you can add more.
The mad man of Turkey, though we understand he was born in Syria and lived in Germany, where he was a martial arts coach for the Hamburg police. He was said to be the worlds craziest wrestler when he invaded Britain's rings in during the 1965-6 season and again in 1968, We have only vague memories of his two television appearances (against Johnny Eagles and Joe Keegan) though we were young at the time. Honest! But old enough to know he was a bad un. Three years following his retirement, on 18th July, 1981, outside of the ring he was believe to have mixed with undesirable elements and was tragically killed, believed murdered, aged 43.
Jack Flash Shirlow
One of the most famous wrestlers in Ireland Lisburn's Henry Shirlow was known to one and all as Jack "Flash" Shirlow. Not only was he one of the top heavyweights in Ireland he was also one of the country's biggest wrestling promoters, bringing the likes of John Quinn and Giant Haystacks to Northern Ireland and taking the opportunity to wrestle them in main event matches. He was also responsible for encouraging Billy Joe Beck to take up professional wrestling. Flash and Billy Joe worked together in England during the 1980s, Born in 1941, Jack Flash Shirlow died in 2012.
Diamond Shondell was one of the most entertaining wrestlers to come out of Ireland. He could hold his own with the best of them. He had some cracking matches with ‘Iron Man’ Steve Logan, Jim Breaks, Brian Maxine, Billy Torontos etc. A very funny character out of the ring it was always a pleasure to be in his company.
Highlight of his career may well have been taking part in the last Royal Albert Hall wrestling show, against Alan Kilby, on 30th October, 1985, 81 years after George Hackenschmidt had defeated the American champion Tom Jenkins in that great venues first wrestling tournament. The very next day Diamond was in Barnsley, Yorkshire. Okay, the surroundings may not have been quite so grand, but he was there for the recording of a televised match that was to be broadcast on December 14th, again with Kilby in the opposite corner. Trained by Dave Finlay Snr Diamond was one of a band of successfull Northern Ireland wrestlers that included Judo Eddie Hamill, Fit Finlay, Johnny Howard, and Billy Joe Beck.
Long dark curly haired haired, muscular heavyweight invader from Panama Enrique Shubasco came to Britain in 1970 following professional wrestling adventures throughout South America and the United States. Having been born in British Honduras Enrique held a British passport, allowing him to stay for five months without the working restrictions that applied to most visitors. He looked the part but his success was less impressive, including a loss against Lee Sharron at the Royal Albert Hall. His professional career followed successful amateur experience in which he was a member of his country’s amateur wrestling team. Having married and set up home in Germany we were surprised not to have seen more of him during the 1970s.
Billy Sigworth (Also known as Steve Warren, Ralph Reamer)
Billy Sigworth was another of those talented wrestlers from that hotbed of professional wrestling, the North East of England. A thriving wrestling scene in the 1960s and 1970s gave rise to dozens of pro wrestlers, most of whom played important supporting roles to the main event stars. Billy Sigsworth was the name, though earlier in his career he used the names Steve Warren and Ralph Reamer. He was a fast and usually “clean” welterweight wrestler, weighing just under twelve stones. The clue was in the attire, if he was wearing wrestling trunks fans could expect a clean, technical match, but when he pulled on those black tights the villain came out.
Billy learned to wrestle at the St Lukes Club in Middlesbrough, alongside Eddie Fox and Sean McNeill. The St Lukes Matmen would organise professional style shows for charities around the North East. This led to a professional career, using the names Ralph Reamer or, more often, Steve Warren. When not wrestling he continued to work as a television engineer. Billy also wrestled in a tag team under the name of The Teessiders along with Sean McNeil. He was good friends with Jimmy Devlin, Eddie Fox and Steve Walton when working for Don Robinson in the Scarborough area.
Billy worked for most of the main independent promoters around the north of England, including Don Robinson, Chunky Hayes, Jim Stockdale and Jackie Pallo. When Ron Taylor brought his boxing and wrestling booth to the Town Moor he could be found working the booth accepting challenges from the crowd. His son, Gary, told us “Watching him when I was a kid at the Scarborough spa on the bill with people like Butcher Goodman and Adrian Street etc are some of my happiest memories.”
Phil Siki (Also known as The Black Arrow)
UK based Trinadian Phil Siki was one of the pre war all in greats who continued to wrestle post war and took part in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament at Harringay on February 18th, 1947. Not just that.. he did also wrestle post war greats Ernest Baldwin, Francis St Clair Gregory, Mitchell Gill, Dave Armstrong, Bill Garnon, Alf Robison, Jack Pye Bert Assirati.. Obviously a top class wrestler who lived up to his title of Heavyweight Champion of the West Indies.