V: Tony Vallon

Prima Classe

Tony Vallon

Tony Vallon was one of those skilled wrestlers who played a vital part in the rejuvenation of wrestling following the Second World War. Not only could he wrestle but he looked the part.  In a world frequented by gorillas, giants and mysterious masked men Tony Vallon had the sort of  muscular, well proportioned physique that made wrestling real for the millions of fans around the country.

It was an interest in physical culture that led not just to a fine physique but an introduction to wrestling.  Shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1945 Tony was called up for two years national service. It was whilst serving in the Royal Navy that he developed an interest in the wrestling. Following his national service Tony started to join the professional wrestlers down the gym. Within a year he was planning for his first professional contest.

He made his professional debut, aged twenty one, in 1949. During the winter of 1949 – 50 he was busy working the rings of northern England, mostly for Wryton Promotions, against the likes of Alf Cadman, Cyril Knowles, Tiger Woods, Jim Mellor and Alan Colbeck.

It was the start of a career that was to see Tony working regularly against the top men in the business. Not usually a main eventer in his own right Tony was one of those support wrestlers we cherish at Wrestling Heritage who brought respect and authenticity to the business. His weight of around 13 stones made him well placed to wrestle lighter men such as Alan Colbeck, light heavyweight champion Ernie Riley and  top class heavies like Gerry DeJaeger and the monstrous Man Mountain Benny. His reliability to put on a fine performance against such a range of opponents made him a promoter’s dream. Don’t be fooled into thinking Tony was matched with these big names to make up numbers. He beat them on occasions.

Although he worked mostly for Wryton Promotions in northern and midlands England jaunts to the south for Dale Martin Promotions and Scotland for Relwyskow and Green were not infrequent. At the country’s premier venue, the Royal Albert Hall, he beat Frank O’Donnell and Tony Zale,  and lost to Bert Royal,  Bill Howes and Steve Logan.

Tony  was one of the pioneers of television wrestling; we have  recorded bouts (there may have been others) against Percy Pitman, Inca Peruano, John Foley and Billy Howes.

Tony scored the first fall over Les Kellett, a European champion claimant at the time,  in Aberdeen in August, 1959, and then went on to knock Les out without the Bradfordian equalising. The Aberdeen Evening Post reported, “Tony Vallon of Manchester, is a vicious looking individual in the ring, but in the dressing room afterwards, he looked entirely different. He is  quietly spoken, reads books on astronomy and studies Spanish grammar. He married a Spanish girl while wrestling in Madrid last year, and hopes soon to enter the restaurant business in Manchester.”

In the return contest in Aberdeen Kellett put his European Cruiserweight tiltle on the line  against Tony. According to the newspaper report Tony “Matched him trick for trick and would undoubtedly have gained the championship but for a lucky blow by Kellett.” Tony wore Kellett down to take the lead in the sixth round before being caught by a lucky blow in the eighth.

Whether or not Tony’s Spanish aspirations were fulfilled, or whether they were a figment of a journalists imagination we don’t know, but would like to hear from anyone that does. We do know that Tony did have a Spanish wife, the couple married on 24th August, 1958.

In 1962 Tony started working for Paul Lincoln and the independent promoters. He disappeared from our radar within a year. Hopefully to cook paella and patatas bravos.

Tony Vallon was born on 15th May, 1928. He died on 6th February, 2020.

Page added 07/02/2020

Reviewed 27/04 2022