WRESTLING HERITAGE

C: Val Cerino


Val Cerino


When we began delving back into the history of professional wrestling it soon became apparent that Val Cerino was a man we should know. Our ignorance was inexcusable because here was a man who had played an important part in British wrestling for the best part of two decades. All we knew was that he was usually billed from Malta, sometimes Italy, but we quickly discovered that this was promoters' fiction and we knew nothing.

We are grateful to Val's niece, Kathryn, for coming to our rescue. From 1935 until 1952 Val Cerino was a prolific wrestler meeting the biggest names in wrestling, including Bill Benny, Frank Manto, Tony Baer and Jack Atherton. Malta and Italy provided only a flicker of truth as Val was born Walter Carwin in South Shields in the North East of England. The dark complexion and black wavy hair hinted at Mediterranean lineage, and this was the case  as his father was Maltese and mother of Italian extraction. The family name, Carwin, was originally Caruana. Val's father Anglicized it to Carwin when he made the decision to settle in England.

After seventeen years as a busy worker, mainly in the midlands and north, he disappeared at the end of 1952.The sudden disappearance could be accounted for by Val emigrating to Australia. He lived initially in Queensland with the intention of running a sugar farm, but he found that he was allergic to the sugar cane dust. He next moved to Melbourne, but that climate did not suit him either, and he finally settled in Sydney. Val resumed wrestling and also attended philosophy classes at the University of Sydney for a number of years. Wrestling Heritage member John Shelvey  tells us that in 1953 the book "100 years of Australian Wrestling" listed Val Cerino as "an addition to the preliminary ranks". Our last recorded contest for him being against Tony Kontellis in Sydney in September, 1964.

Kathryn tells us that Val ended his days in Tugun, Queensland, in a care home following a fall in his unit in North Bondi. He was unable to reach the phone to call for help and was at death's door when he was eventually found. He saw in the New Millennium and passed away at the grand old age of 96, having outlived his four younger brothers and sisters. "Uncle Walter was my favourite uncle and I regard his emigration to Australia as a great loss. It was nice to see that the world has not entirely forgotten him. He was a lovely man."

Reviewed 07/02/2022