A: Vince Apollo

See all the wrestlers in this section                    Next page

A Man of Many Guises

Vince Apollo
(Also known as Eric "Tubby" Hodgson, Undertaker Jonathan, Baby Blimp, Odie)

Coal miner Eric Hodginson was a man of many incarnations. He is  remembered by television fans as  Eric “Tubby” Hodgson, another in the long line of opponents doing their bit to create the Big Daddy myth by dutifully going down to the big man. Let's not underestimate him for this role. We remember him from earlier times when he  was  known as  Vince Apollo (the visiting American superstar),  or  donned a mask and wrestled as one of the masked Undertakers who toured independent and later Joint Promotion rings to some success and notoriety. In the 1980s he resurfaced once again as Baby Blimp. 

Two decades earlier Eric had begun his wrestling career working for promoter Jack Taylor adapting  his nickname from childhood, Odie, to become Odie The Terrible. Odie had turned professional in April, 1961, facing his tutor, Ronto the Bull, at Heanor Town Hall. 

Professional wrestling was a diversion for Eric, away from a life  beneath ground as a  miner at Underwood pit in Nottinghamshire. For twenty years he combined both occupations, travelling the length of the country to tackle the likes of Bobo Matu and Pat Curry, to return home in the early hours for a few hours sleep before clocking in once again at the colliery.  Wrestling was a hard profession in those days.

For much of the early part of his career he wrestled for independent promoters, like Jack Taylor, Fred Wolley and Danny Flynn,  a  growing radius from the east midlands and then into the north. Odie became Vince Apollo, the American football player, and then he hit upon the gimmick that was to find greatest fame. Eric donned a mask, initially with another local wrestler, Wally Severn, and they became the Undertakers. Wally's place was soon taken by Brian Abbott and the two of them created one of the most notorious tag partnerships in Britain. The Undertakers travelled  around the country as one of the biggest drawing names on the independent circuit. It wasn't long before they were snapped up by Joint Promotions, working mostly for Wryton Promotions. The partnership transferred successfully to the Joint organisation and again became a big draw around the midlands and north.

When working for Joint Promotions Eric travelled further afield, usually in the North and Midlands, but on occasions into Scotland. Twenty years after turning professional, and having wrestled most of the big names in British wrestling for both opposition and Joint Promotions, a leg injury at the Underwood Pit brought Eric's wrestling career to an end.  Odie had come a long way.

Page added 17/3/19

Reviewed 06/02/2022