WRESTLING HERITAGE

H: Toma Hansom


Toma Hansom

Our gallant hero was cornered. The fist of a huge man pounded down relentlessly on his forehead. Blood flowed from the gash. This was serious. The crowd roared their disapproval. The referee made futile attempts to halt the onslaught. Surely he could have done more? The flow of blood seemed greater. Our gallant hero slid slowly down the corner post to collapse on the mat. The big man paused and stood back to enjoy his victory. Thankfully it was a short lived moment of glory as the referee declared his verdict. Our hero was the winner. Of course he was.


It was an incredible scene the first time we witnessed it.


It was good the second time too. No doubt others enjoyed it .


Our hero was Toma Hansom. The slaughterer was Klondyke Bill. It was a well rehearsed routine which the two men had no doubt discussed as they travelled to the hall together.


Klondyke, like Toma also worked for Don Robinson in his non wrestling enterprises, and after Don had the idea of turning Klondyke into a wrestling attraction Tommy  was entrusted with guiding him through many of those early matches.


Toma Hansom was the Norwegian alter ego of Scarborough's Tommy Hanson, which is a name inextricably linked with wrestling promoter and entrepreneur Don Robinson. Klondyke Bill was a man he must have wrestled hundreds of times.


Don Robinson and Tommy Hanson were good friends before they entered the wrestling business, which they did together after approaching Darlington's Jim Stockdale one night at Northallerton Town Hall. Don, the entrepreneur had plans, and his mate Tommy could help them become reality.


Jim Stockdale taught Don and Tommy the ins and outs of the professional style, and this was the start of a lifetime commitment to wrestling, for Don as a promoter and Tommy as a heavyweight wrestler. Tommy turned professional in the early 1960s, many of his matches being on the bills of his friend and business colleague Don. Our earliest documented appearance is in 1964, but Ray Plunkett has found Toma Hansom on the posters as early as January, 1961, working for Jack Taylor, with Don Robinson on the same bill.


Don Robinson was the successful business man with a finger in more pies than Ginsters. He needed people he could trust, and Tommy was one of them. Tommy would often manage Don's shows in the promoter's absence and was usually the man handing out the wage packets at the end of the night, often grumbled at for payment by cheque. Eddie Rose worked for Don Robinson many times, but never met the man himself : “Tommy was a good heavyweight but my memories of him were as Don Robinson's ‘lieutenant’ at the Scarborough venue. I worked there a few times against Cyril Knowles, Kevin (Pit Bull) Cawley, Ezra Francis etc. He ran the shows smoothly but there was an odd affair with the 'Rock of Ages.' Tommy gave us a cheque which was made out to a pub down the road and we had to go to the pub (buy a drink or two) then cash the cheques minus the drinks! I don't know what the fiddle was except instead of say £10 wages, you got £8.50. Was it some form of tax evasion? Was it Tommy's pub? I often wondered. But he was a good lad all the same.”


During the 1960s Tommy wrestled around the country for all the top independent promoters: Don Robinson, Paul Lincoln, Cyril Knowles, Cape Promotions, Taylor & Allan. He filled out into a mid heavyweight and could be seen in action against independent wrestlers such as Reg Ray, Jim Stockdale, Dwight J Ingleburgh and Dai Sullivan.


Tommy's matches tended to be all action affairs, and not infrequently a bit of his blood would be spilled. He was always the good guy when we saw him, but Tommy was a hard man, nothing too scientific or sophisticated.


In the late 1970s Max Crabtree signed Tommy up for Joint Promotions, there was some co-operation agreement with Don Robinson that it would take greater minds than ours to understand. This allowed him his only television appearance, partnering Ray Steele against Mal Kirk and Ian Muir. A second recorded contest, a win over John Cox, was not broadcast.


In 1985 Tommy bought an excursion cruiser, the Corina (2) from Don Robinson, taking the vessel to Gibraltar, where it ran for six years around the rock to view dolphins. By the time of Tommy's death the boat had returned to Scarborough under the ownership of North Sea Leisure. Following Tommy’s death a tribute sailing was made off the coast of Scarborough, raising funds for St Catherine's Hospice, the home in which he had died.


Steve Walton, another employer of Don Robinson, told us: “In wrestling he was always one of the good guys, and he was just like that in real life.”


Tommy Hanson died on 13th March 2013, aged 75.