Horace Taylor of Leeds was a celebrated northern area amateur champion and England representative from the Bradford Premier Club during the early years of the 1930s. In July 1934 he took part in the finals of the trials of the Empire Games. Having missed out on the Games, and after representing England in their match with Belgium in November, Horace took the professional road, having his first match on December 3rd, 1934. We have found many professional matches for Horace between 1934 and 1938, all of them in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In each of them he was in supporting matches but he had an impressive record with wins over Val Cerino, Cab Cashford, Fred Unwin and The Farmers Boy, amongst many others.
Jack Taylor (Bradford)
The lesser known of our Jack Taylor collection in professional circles but one of Britain's finest amateurs and an influential man in professional circles.
Jack came from the famous Bradford dynasty, being the cousin of Heavy middleweight professional champion Eric Taylor, son of the 1938 British featherweight champion Tom Taylor and nephew of Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games competitor Joe Taylor. Jack too had an equally illustrious amateur career and lower profile professional career.
Jack won the British amateur lightweight title in 1956 and represented Britain in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Jack won one of his three matches, returning home with honour but without honours. Jack had only a short lived professional career, but was the opponent for Jeff Kaye when he made his paid debut.
During his two years National Service Jack served as a physical training instructor in the army. A bricklayer by trade (in later life he kept fit by climbing scaffold using only his hands) Jack trained many amateurs and aspiring professionals at the Leeds Athletic Institute, being responsible for the development of many young wrestlers of the 1960s and 1970s. Al Marshall told us that when Cyril Knowles offered him his chance in the pro ring he was certain that Cyril was greatly influenced by the knowledge he had been trained by Jack Taylor.
Jack Taylor died, aged 83, on 7th October, 2015.
Sheik Michael Taylor
Did you see Michael Taylor? There'll be no uncertainty; if you saw him you will remember. We have two memories of him, one in the ring and one outside. We first came across the self styled Sheik (the title was allegedly bestowed by one of his yoga teachers) when he appeared on the Dave Allen chat show. He demonstrated pushing knitting needles into one cheek and out though the other cheek without bleeding. As a follow up he smashed and ate a glass bottle! He explained these feats were possible through meditation, which enabled him to withstand intense pain, a useful attribute for a wrestler. Mind you, when we next saw Michael Taylor, in the ring on an independent show at Blackburn, he was fairly ordinary in the ring after dispensing of his costume and allowing a couple of members of the audience stand on his chest as he lay on a bed of nails. Whether the nails were rubber, the men were hollow, or there was some truth in what Michael claimed we shall never know. When not wrestling or performing any of these stunts Michael could often be seen eating fire, juggling, stilt walking or displaying various other talents as an entertainer up to his death in April, 2011.
Ray Taylor (Also known as Young Raymond, Farmer Raymond)
Another Taylor, this time from the Lancashire side of the Pennines. Our memories of Ray go back to the mid 1960s when he never failed to please, be it in skilfull contests against Danny Flynn or rugged affairs against villains such as Killer Ken Davies.
Young Raymond, that was the name on the posters in the sixties, was born in the small Lancashire textile town of Accrington, famed for its football club, the "Accrington Pals," and a family of wrestling brothers. Ray Taylor was the younger brother of Accrington's Jack Taylor; a third brother, Doug, was referee and office manager for Jack Taylor Promotions.
Ray was a youngster when older brother Jack moved away from Accrington to pursue his wrestling career from his new home in Langley Mills, Nottinghamshire. One night Jack took ten year old Ray along to the Victoria Baths, Nottingham. Ray was smitten. Like so many Heritage readers he still has vivid memories of the first time he watched a live professional wrestling show. "The main bout was Gentleman Jim Lewis versus the Farmers Boy. Little did I know one day I would have the pleasure of wresting Jim at Granby Halls, Leicester one of the greatest venues in England." The Granby Halls was a huge, cavernous hall which fans packed out every Saturday night during the 1960s.
In his early teens Ray started working on a farm when not at school, hence the Farmer Raymond and Farmers Boy names. Leaving school when he was fifteen he went to work down the coal mines. During those teenagers the thought of becoming a wrestler could not be resisted. It wasn't until he was twenty that brother Jack began to teach him the ropes "It was the most harshest punishment I've ever endured." His professional debut was against a man with a reputation for hardness, Killer ken Davies. "He hit me from pillar to post i still have the bruises to prove it, A nicer guy you could never wish to meet outside the ring, I wrestled him many times after but I always gave as much as i got."
Other great matches remembered by Ray include those with Butcher Goodman and Cyril Knowles, "I wrestled Cyril several times but I was never in the same league."
Ray supplemented his wrestling earnings as a HGV driver for a local milk depot. 7.00 am starts didn'c come easy having arrived home from a wrestling engagement at any time up to 3.00 am. Working for Jack (as well as other independent promoters) meant that Ray had to make himself available for work just about anywhere in the country.
It was hard work, but rewarded with many happy memories, and Ray was generous with his compliments for those he worked with, mentioning particular admiration for Gentleman Jim Lewis, Mick Collins, Al Marquette, Ken Davies, Randolf Turpin, Eric Sands, Dominic Pye, Jim Green, and the list goes on.
Yes there was a Rocky before the great Dave Taylor. This Rocky Taylor was a Manchester based wrestler working for the independent promoters in the north during the late 1950s.
Yes, another one. These Taylor's are like buses and once one arrives they just keep coming! Back across the Pennines to the Yorkshire Taylor clan. Steve was the son of Eric Taylor and older brother of Dave Taylor, so wrestling was certainly in his blood. With such credentials we could expect an accomplished wrestler, and he certainly was. Steve displayed the expected characteristics of the Taylor family
Coming onto the scene in the mid 1970s Steve was a breath of fresh air in a landscape of growing wrestling nonsense. We saw him wrestle for the first time, at Preston, in 1975, when he had been wrestling for about a year. His opponent was Bobby Barnes and Steve lost to the far more experienced man.
In the years that followed he became a popular figure around the halls and a flurry of activity on tv in 1975 with opponents that included Bert Royal, Jeff Kaye, Alan Wood and Kung Fu. Then he disappeared. For armchair fans that was. He remained very active around the halls, working for independent promoters.
Steve returned to the television screens in 1987, but by then the writing was on the wall for British wrestling.
Had British style wrestling continued to flourish the stylish Steve Taylor would have been destined to become one of the great heavyweights of the early twenty-first century.
Teddy Bear Taylor
Regular readers of Heritage know of the Old Mossblown Gym. A small, functional gym in the village of Mossblown, a mining community in South Ayshire. It was built by it's members and run by the Bryden brothers, Andy and Bill, known to the wrestling world as Dale Storm and Bruce Welch. From this small gym came a dozen or more wrestlers who entertained the people of Scotland throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Don't take our word for it. Read the books of Eddie Rose to understand how highly regarded was the gym and the wrestlers that emerged.
One of them was a youngster by the name of Ian Taylor. Ian was a mechanic by trade. In the late 1960s he was joined at the garage by a new mechanic, Andy Bryden. Ian hadn't long left school, he was sixteen when the two met, and it was Andy that introduced Ian to the wonderful world of professional wrestling. Andy had been to Australia, brought into wrestling by Danny Flynn, and could tell a good tale.
Not that Ian was interested in wrestling. Okay, he watched it on television, as most of the population did in the 1960s. Everything stopped at 4 o'clock. Les Kellett and Catweazle were his favourites. Not for the wrestling mind you. For Ian it was the entertainment aspect that enthralled him. The way the wrestlers could control the emotions of the audience.
Andy and Ian talked about wrestling, and Andy told him of his gym and collection of aspiring wrestlers. Still not convinced the seventeen year old accepted Andy's invitation to join him, his brother and the rest of the gang.
Twice a week Ian learned the rudiments of the business at the Mossblown gym. After around eight months the decision was made to introduce him to the paying public, an opportunity to demonstrate not just what he knew about wrestling, but about entertainment. That first match was against another Mossblown man, Young Starsky.
Smitten! By now re-named Teddy Bear Taylor (he was a Glasgow Rangers fan) Ian travelled around Scotland and entertained the fans. He was a good pupil of both wrestling and entertainment according to tutor Dale Storm, "Teddy Bear taylor could be hilarious." At times he would tag partner Mad Michael O'Hagan; not an obvious partnership but one that just worked.
Rocco, Pallo, Street. These were the men he admired. He respected their wrestling ability but again it was their ability to entertain that he really admired. Wrestling in 1971, married in 1974, life was looking good for Teddy Bear. Until disaster struck. It was 1978. A fire left Ian seriously injured. Months of recovery, and lucky to escape with his life, there was no way Teddy Bear Taylor could return to the ring.
Not the happy ending we would like to tell. But happy in that Ian fully recovered, enjoys life as he is added to the A-Z in 2018, and looks back on a good life as an entertainer.