H: Tug Holton

Tug Holton

Would it be disrespectful to ask if a wrestler ever won? Well, no, not in the mysterious realm of professional wrestling. That question was raised in regard to Tug Holton by enthusiasts and nobody rushed to provide evidence to the contrary. But in the world of professional wrestling that was hardly important. Wrestling was about providing entertainment, value for money and reliability. In that respect Tug Holton was a star. His unremarkable villainy did nothing to diminish our affection for a reliable undercarder who never failed to please.

Tug Holton’s unspectacular wrestling career was marked by continual underlining of the fact that as an amateur boxer he had faced Dick Richardson, Brian London and Henry Cooper, even decking 'Enery we were told. We can’t verify any of that.

Training as a wrestler at the John Ruskin Amateur Wrestling Club Tommy Holton turned professional in 1956. We have found College Boy Charlie Law, Black Butcher Johnson, Jules Kiki and Fred Van Lotta among his earliest opponents.

Sailor Tommy Holton became Tug Holton in 1961. Shortly afterwards he was taken on by Joint Promotions, a considerable step up. This opened the opportunity to wrestle more well known wrestlers and television appearances. That almost happened in February, 1962 when he wrestled Gorilla Reg Ray at Lime Grove, but although the match was filmed it does not seem to have been broadcast. Tommy had to wait until February, 1964 before being afforded the opportunity to lose, in the view of millions of television spectators, when he wrestled Honey Boy Zimba at Barking. A loss didn’t matter. Tug Holton was on his way, making his mark on the British wrestling scene with at least twenty-five televised matches to follow.

Surprisingly we are unaware of any great highlights during the sixties and seventies, but we are aware of a man who was held in great fondness by many, us included. The name Tug Holton on the bill was always one to welcome. There was one significant moment in wrestling history. In April, 1966, Tug Holton and Ivan Penzekoff wrestled Bert Royal and Vic Faulkner on television in the first televised tag team match in Britain. Many enthusiasts remember Tug for his tag partnership with Penzekoff, the black tighted villains menacingly opposing the good guys such as The White Eagles, The Saints and The Borg Twins.

Primary source information of Tommy Holton is hard to come by (we would welcome help from family members) he is billed from various districts of London, though from our 1960s memories will always be associated with Waterloo, which is in Lambeth, London.

Rather oddly this Waterloo heavyweight seemed regularly to face much smaller opponents such as Kellett, Torontos and Kwango, rather than similarly weighted contemporaries such as Tibor Szakacs or Steve Viedor. Most frequent opponent was skilful Clayton Thomson at two or three stones less. Thomson would outwit Holton and win every time, thereby illustrating to all spectators the apparent validity of catchweight bouts.

That was part of the magic of wrestling. Tug Holton was a big part of that magic. We last came across Tug in 1978, working for Jackie Pallo. Rather fitting really, as that was a year the magic ended for many Wrestling Heritage readers.

Do get in touch if you can add memories or information.

Page added 29/05/2022