V: Vargas - Vickers
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Paul Anton Vargas
1956, 1957 and 1959 Spanish visitor to Britain who kindly dropped the European middleweight title to Bolton's Bert Royal at Hanley in October, 1956. We can find no information about him winning the title. Opponents included Charlie Fisher, Black Butcher Johnson and Jean Morandi (all at the Royal Albert Hall). Worked in Germany under the name Bela Vargyas.
Billed from Cambridge and active in the late 1940s we wonder if this was an alternative name for College Boy?
Heritage member Tom H visited a small museum in Bognor Regis where he saw a wrestling handbill on display in a glass cabinet. The main event was described as follows: "Paul Lincoln proudly introduces the real life American Cherokee red Indian, VEGA-DINGO, Do not miss the fire ritual entrance to the ring of this young brave." His opponent was "REBEL" RAY HUNTER.the British Empire champion.Tom went on to learn that Vega-Dingo wrestled for Paul Lincoln in 1963 and also wrestled in Spain. Further detective work by SaxonWolf discoovered that Vega-Dingo was a Spaniard named Sebastien Campos Vega-Dingo.
The baby faced Spanish welterweight from Cuenca made two journeys to the British Isles, the first in 1965 and again in 1967. Promoters did the visitors no favours and top rated men like Pallo, Kidd, Dempsey and McManus disposed of the Spaniard, the latter at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1965. That didn't stop Charles Mascall (editor of The Wrestler) describing him as as one of the best Spanish welterweights for some time. Whatever, that didn't stop Linde Caulder taking the decision over him in the same month. Whilst the 1965 visit was confined to southern Dale Martin Promotion rings the 1967 tour was to the north of England and Scotland. Veliz was willing to rough up his opponents when he felt necessary, never more so than when he partnered Inca Peruano during his 1967 tour.
Italian Lino Ventura visited Britain for a short tour in 1949. Opponents included Ted Betley, Lew Roseby and Tim McCoy. Shortly afterwards Lino's career was ended by an injury. He went on to a successful film career, mainly in France, where he had lived since he was seven years old. During the Second World War Lino was conscripted into the Italian army, but he deserted to remain faithful to the French people. Lino Ventura was founder of the Pierce-Neige charitable foundation which encourages governments to recognize the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, particularly in terms of childcare, and change the way society looks at people with intellectual disabilities, their integration, and overcome stereotypes. In 2005 Le Plus Grand Français de tous les temps (The Greatest Frenchman of all Time) was broadcast on French television. It was based on the BBC series Great Britons, in which viewers voted for their greatest countryman of all time. Lino Ventura was voted number 23, just above French President François Mitterrand and the architect Gustave Eiffel.
Crusher Oscar Verdu
The magnificent specimen that was early sixties Rick Ferraro billed out of Chicago, managed to metamorphose into the ponderous "dis"graced British rings over several visits in the sixties, initially with Paul Lincoln Promotions in 1964 and 65, and later on with Dale Martin Promotions up to the end of the decade.
Billed from Columbus, Ohio, Crusher Verdu spent excessive periods not engaged in combat and not doing his job, under the guise of preening. Years later Giant Haystacks would make a habit of spending a couple of opening minutes on the prowl, but we didn't want such disengagement from someone half his size ten years earlier.
Allegedly a master of the bearhug, and allegedly beat Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden to claim the World Heavyweight Championship on 15th June 1970. He in fact never did gain that title and after a stopped bout against Bruno Sammartino was firmly put in his place in a return shortly afterwards. Thanks to stateside Heritage browser Derek Bush for his confirmation of New York events.
Just goes to show what status a wrestler of limited ability could achieve in the USA if he could point to a lengthy British stay on his curriculum.
Factually again, Verdu lost to Rebel Ray Hunter at the Royal Albert Hall.
Resurfaced in European rings eight years later with a run in the German tournaments, where he often tagged alongside Mal Kirk.
Charles (Jan) Verhulst
The Popular heavyweight wrestler from Liege, Belgium was just twenty-four when he visited the UK in 1962 and periodically through the decade. He was a popular and skilful wrestler who met the best but had a record that was at best mixed. Draws against Al Hayes and Kendo Nagasaki were more than offset when he surely reached an all time low with a 2-0 loss to Crusher Verdu at Southampton in March, 1969. Worked extensively throughout Europe in the 1970s and Japan in 1985, where he used the name Johnny Londos.
Big Bill Verna
Born in Perth, Australia, in 1929 Bill Verna travelled the world mostly from his homes in Belgium and Britain. When he came to the UK in 1950 he weighed just sixteen stones, but our memories of him as a 1960s wrestler are of a 21 strong villain. Following a short interest in boxing turned to wrestling and made his professional debut aged eighteen. After a couple of years working around the rings of Australia he made his way to Europe where he quickly established himself in the German tournaments and in British rings . Following a short period in England in 1950 Bill wrestled in the Far East, where we have reports of him wrestling Dara Singh, and billed as “The Blonde Tiger” in a match where both men were said to display rare mastery in the game. Other opponents included Aslam and Akram Pahalwan and Emile “King Kong” Czaja. He was back in Europe in 1954 and amongst his opponents during this visit was the American world champion claimant Frank Sexton, who he held to a draw. Over the next fifteen years he wrestled all over the world but always returned to the UK, where he was one of those popular villains the fans loved to boo. His status as a top class professional was confirmed when Bill was selected as one of the few to oppose World champion Lou Thesz on his British visit.
There was a very active wrestling scene in East Lancashire in the late 1960s and early 1970s, not just in cities like Blackburn but in the smaller halls of Darwen and Cole, and outdoor events such as the Burnley Horse Fair. Eddie Rose attributes much of this to the work of promoter and wrestler Sid Vickers. The wrestler and promoter from Burnley was something of a firebrand in the rings of the 1960s. Okay, we are basing this only on the stories we have heard and the one time we saw him in the ring. That was the only time we have seen the crowd involved, chairs flying and the police called to a scene described in the evening paper as "a riot." Not that we are pointing a finger.... Syd Vickers, a great character and all action wrestler who kept the 1960s/70s wrestling scene so lively.