M: Stefan Milla

Stefan Milla

Stefan Milla was a popular welterweight forever associated with Copenhagen. That's where he was from according to the publicity and we have no reason to doubt it. We can tell you though, that he was living in Bootle, Lancashire, before his third birthday.

Blond curly hair and a  forever youthful appearance belied the fact that Stefan Milla was a name on the wrestling posters as early as 1950, when he was just twenty years old,  born on 15th March, 1929. Those looks meant that we could never imagine Stefan as anything other than the good guy. 

Whilst at primary school Stefan took an active interest in boxing and started going to boxing classes. In his mid teens he took up wrestling. The Wrestler magazine claimed that he was trained at Riley's gym in Wigan, but we have found no further evidence, nor of a six week injury in his professional debut against Bill Hargreaves. Both may be true, but we like to find confirmation. The 1950 debut does seem accurate enough. 

By 1952 the name Stefan Milla could be found frequently on posters in the midlands, north of England and Scotland, working for  Wryton Promotions and Relwyskow Green. Opponents in the first couple of years included Chic Purvey, Danny Flynn and Tony Lawrence. The location of his matches suggest he is still living in northern England at this time.

The first big opportunity came on 1st December, 1953. the  the Caird Hall, Dundee, Stefan was matched with Alan Colbeck with Colbeck's European welterweight championship at stake. It was a gruelling bout by all accounts. Stefan was on the offensive and took the first fall in the third round. Colbeck responded aggressively and equalised in the sixth round with a back stretch. Resuming from the submission Stefan moved out of his corner at the start of the seventh and immediately crumpled to the mat, with the referee stopping the fight immediately. 

By 1954 Stefan was travelling more extensively, from Scotland to southern England. George Kidd was a frequent opponent, Mick McManus another, as was welterweight champion Jack Dempsey. Stefan and these three must have made a great match as it was repeated so frequently. All the main promoters were now making use of Stefan Milla's services. 

A second championship opportunity came Stefan's way on 5th May, 1954. Having beaten Jack Dempsey in April at Eastbourne Dale Martin Promotions arranged a return contest for Dempsey's European welterweight championship. Sixty minutes of wrestling, the match went all the way and ended in a draw. 

1956 and  more highlights for Stefan. It was Leap Year, and on 29th February Stefan had his first billing at the Royal Albert Hall. The hall must have been packed as it was a big night with the annual heavyweight tournament taking place. Stefan's opponents that night was the tough Irishman Pat Kloke, and it was the Irishman that took the honours. The boy did well though. Well enough to be brought back the following October, this time with Mick McManus the opponent. Stefan had to patiently wait for his third Albert Hall match, with the opponent British champion Mel Riss, before his arm was raised in victory.

Television was introducing professional wrestling to the nation, or at least London, Midlands and the North.  On 15th June, 1956 Stefan wrestled Mel Riss in a televised event from Cheetham Town Hall, though as the programme lasted only thirty minutes we don't know if his match was broadcast. Many more opportunities for televised contests were to come his way, with the dozen or so  opponents including Jon Cortez, Mick McManus and Cliff Beaumont.

Around 1960 the proportion of Stefan's southern appearances increased and his location changed from Liverpool to Westminster. Not that southern England had him all to themselves. Stefan Milla was quite a traveller and made frequent trips to continental Europe.  He remained a regular worker for Dale Martin Promotions until September, 1968.  

We then find him working for the independent promoters. In the 1970s many of his old opponents were also working for the independents, and he was still challenging that old rival Dempsey for the welterweight title. Still going strong, still travelling, in 1975 Stefan packed  his bags again and was off to wrestle in Poland and Czecholslovakia. For a man who remained a supporting role wrestler, main eventing only when matched with the star names like McManus, Pallo and Kidd it was quite a career. All good things come to an end and Stefan Milla disappeared from our rings in 1976.

Stefan Milla died on 17th January, 2009.

Page added 14/03/2021

Reviewed 28/02/2022