Topham - Trigeaud

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Lord Bertie Topham (Also known as Brian Trautmann)
Wrestling codology told fans he was “a real live millionaire.” However unlikely the truth of that statement Lord Bertie was all part of wrestling’s rich tapestry, and what an enjoyable and precious part of that tapestry he was.  Lord Bertie, complete with top hat, cane, monocle and cloak would walk unhurriedly to the ring, nurturing every second of the fans’ hostility.  He was preceded by his faithful valet, Ponsonby, dressed just as immaculately in pin striped trousers, tailcoat, bowler hat and white gloves.  Ponsonby carried a silver tray, decanter and wine glass, his Lordship’s refreshments between rounds. 

Once in the ring Ponsonby would titivate his Lord's corner post, dusting it down with the silk cloth produced from his pocket, preparing it for his Lordship’s arrival. Ponsonby would make it his business to check the cleanliness of the referee, often demanding that he washed his hands in the water he provided. Having folded his master’s coat and returned it safely to the dressing room Ponsonby would return to the ring to fulfil the remainder of his duties, which were caring for his master between rounds and interfering with the bout at every opportunity. 

With some inevitability Lord Bertie would grab his opponent in a headlock, thrust the head through the ropes and Ponsonby would oblige by clobbering him with the silver tray. Apart from such antics, the wrestling itself was pretty routine stuff, a more than able rule bending heavyweight who generated a huge amount of animosity from the fans. 
Nevertheless, the fans went home happy. They hadn’t just paid their money to watch a heavyweight villain, they’d paid to see Lord Bertie Topham, and he always gave value for money.

Eddie Rose remembers:
"Bertie was a bill topper at the first Independent show I watched; Marple Baths just outside Stockport. His valet, Ponsonby, was Alec Burton who later made a name for himself as a good wrestler. Lord Bertie was one of my favourites after a shaky start. I worked for him on a bill at some out-of-the-way agricultural show in mid Cheshire. He blithely paid me by cheque at about £2 over the going rate. I was too new and nervous to challenge him and waited with misgivings for a week for the thing to clear - which it did to my great relief. He always addressed me as "Edward" rather than Eddie in his laconic way and booked me on his shows with some frequency. He was an amusing character on a personal level but imagine my surprise when Monty Swann told me that Topham originated from the Ellesmere Port area and used to work painting the huge oil containers at Stanlow terminal. Hardly an aristocratic heritage for Bertie. Jack Atherton told me that Bertie had a trial for Joint Promotions in the mid-60s but there were doubts about his physique when matched against top heavyweights. Jack lent him some weights with orders to perform a set routine every morning and thus get some bulk and definition. Jack said Topham wrestled as if he was sitting in an armchair, he was so relaxed and non-aggressive looking. The plan faltered: Jack said Bertie preferred his buttered crumpet to weight training so early in the day and Topham never made it with Joints.

I lost track of Bertie after I gave up wrestling and he pursued his work with show business (he once booked Buddy Ward in as a male stripper! Buddy wowed the audience, according to Buddy). However, I was working in Blackpool at the time and I was walking round the junction of Waterloo Road and Lytham Road one day and I heard a familiar voice call out "Ah Rose! How are you Edward my boy?" None other than Bertie. We had a chat about how life was treating us and away he sauntered. Same old Topham but a couple of weeks later I heard, sadly, that he had passed away.

Not a top class wrestler but a top class ring personality and suited to the shows on which he regularly appeared. Never short of work and in his heyday he worked six nights a week and sometime twice a night. Bertie was a top class gent and is fondly remembered by those who knew him."

Through the years the role of Ponsonby was played by a number of men. One of them, cited above, was the late Alec Burton, whilst another is a member of Wrestling Heritage. 

He told us 
“I was Ponsonby, manservant to Lord Bertie Topham in the late '60s. I was a Law student at the time at Manchester University. I met Lord Bertie in a pub (called College Arms?) on the corner of Brunswick Street/Oxford Road. He offered me the part time job. I was given some basic training in how to land safely when body slammed etc. My job was to act like a short-arsed, snotty-nosed ponce who mocked and sneered at his opponents, and the spectators.

I entered the ring well before his Lordship so that I could clean and dust his corner and spray it with air freshener etc. Much to the annoyance of the spectators (and the ref and the opponent), I would sneer at the opponent and inspect his boots making out that he had something 'umlawful' in the lacing. By now the ringside was going hysterical with anger and at that point Lord Bertie emerged.”

Tornado Torontos
Billy Torontos, the maniacal Greek American who arrived Britain 1963 and to the promoters' surprise was not a full-blown heavyweight.  Thus he had to fulfil some interestingly mis-matched initial bookings, typically against Maori giant John Da Silva and bizarrely, in a 1964 preview, as first opponent for The Outlaw. 

He then squeaked his way through 17 years of diligent service with a gradually developing repertoire of self-deprecating antics and failures, but status alone ensured that the promoters insisted upon occasional unlikely victories, like televised wins over Bob Kirkwood Sid Cooper and John Elijah. Billy was a tv favourite, notching up more than thirty appearances between 1964 and 1981. . They say the Chicago Express was a lovely fellow, always with time for the fans:  this writer could never understand a word he said!  

Bill famously resembled tv contemporary Peter Falk as another cigar chewing Amercian, Columbo, and ultimately died a tragic dressing room death in Peterborough in September 1981.  His unbelievable routines did as much or as little for the game as Catweazle or Big Daddy, but he is remembered fondly by fans, demonstrated by numerous comments to the pleasure he gave in the Talk Wrestling forum.

We believe Billy was born in Greece, lived his childhood in Toronto, Canada, and moved to Chicago after leaving school. In the early 1960s he wrestled in the United States but lacked the weight to make an impact.

Tornado Torontos claims the posthumous award as the most atrocious autograph signatory of all time.

Ricardo Torres
Son of the original White Angel (see L'Ange Blanc), Torres also wrestled in France and Spain as the Little Angel.  Though he toured Britain only briefly in 1971 and topped the Royal Albert Hall bill when going down to Mick McManus, the speed and agility of this Spanish welterweight left a very favourable impression. A measure of his stature was in his sole televised bout:  he defeated the former British Lightweight champion Zoltan Boscik by a straight fall.

Janos Toth
Hungarian welterweight visited Britain in 1966 and 1967 working for Dale Martin Promotions. Results were not particularly impressive, going down to Len Hurst, Peter Rann, Bobby Barnes, Dick Conlon, Joe Queseck and others.

El Babri Lel Mamrouni Touhani (Also known as Black Salem)
A smiling Tunisian ,El Babri Lel Mamrouni Touhani, used the name Black Salem and visited Britain in 1962. He was a powerful heavyweight who held the undefeated masked man Count Bartelli, to a draw. Opponents also included Tony Mancelli, Ernie Riley, Bruno Elrington, Tibor Szakacs and Jack Pye. Made his only television appearance against Digger Rowell in November 1962 at Hull.

Frankie Townsend 
The 1960s was the decade of a popular musical revolution and the years during which wrestling reached a mass appeal peak.One man combined them both, and that man was The Fighting Marine, Frankie Townsend. American heavyweight wrestler and former marine  Frankie  visited the UK during the winter of 1961-2. Known in the USA as the “Singing Wrestler” he released a UK record, “I’m the Greatest.” Fora man of 6'4" and weighing around eighteen stone he was surprisingly nimble and his drop-kicks caused something of a talking point amongst Brtish fans. He came to Britain with a record that included drawn verdicts against Lou Thesz and  Pat O'Connor at their best. Following his UK tour he went on to tour Japan in 1963 before meeting an untimely death in a 1965 boating accident, aged just 32.

Dennis Tracey
We have good memories of a clean and skilful Merseyside based welterweight working for the independents in the 1960s. That’s about all. We would like to learn more.

Brian Trevors
He was known as “The Keighley Strong Boy,” and for good reason, but Brian Trevors combined his strength with a great deal of wrestling skill. He attributed his amazingly strong stomach muscles to his employment as a timber feller before he took up wrestling. Trevors was known for his feats of strength, such as breaking six inch nails with his hands and, unbelievable as it may sound, placing a halfpenny in his eye and bending it by closing his eye!  Heritage members told us of Brian's reputation for being able to tense his neck and waist to resist being put in a Boston Crab.  Ian Pringle recalls, “I can remember  him well at St  James Hall, Newcastle, being held by his legs by his opponent with his head on the mat and being wheeled around the mat like a wheelbarrow.”  Brian lost at the Royal Albert Hall against Mick McManus and was a popular wrestler on television. A regular worker for Joint Promotions in the 1950s and 1960s he moved to Norfolk in the late 1960s where he opened a wrestling gymnasium in Fleggburgh. Brian was responsible for bringing into the wrestling world men such as Bad Bill Pye, John L Hagger, and Stephen St John. He became a well respected promoter, under the banner Anglia Promotions, and put on shows throughout the east of England.

Ivan Trevors
Respected wrestler of the 1980s, and unsurprisingly so because Ivan was trained by his father ,  strongman Brian Trevors. Ivan was immersed in wrestling from an early age with his father's gym training some of the top wrestlers in East Anglia.  A television win over Jimmy Ocean and participation in the ensuing Battle Royle brought him to the attention of fans nationwide.

Claude Trigeaud
Diminuitive French lightweight Claude Trigeaud stood only 5'7” tall and  made a  two week visit to to Britain in January 1964, getting time off from his work as a postman apparently.  The young Frenchman was twenty-four years old at the time and had been a professional for six years, working in France and Belgium. He made  little impression against mid class opposition. Brother of Roger Trigeaud.

Roger Trigeaud (Also known as Cheri Bibi)
Heavily built French heavyweight villain who made a short visit to Britain in September, 1957. Appeared in the 1961 film, World by Night, with Jacky Corn.  He reappeared as a veteran aged  38 in his  1963 visit to Britain, tackling the likes of   Judo Al Hayes and Bob Anthony.  Born in Canapville on 7th April 1925 he was seventy years old when he passed away  in Cannes on 19th February, 1996, aged 70. Roger Trigeaud was better known around Europe as Cheri Bibi.