C; Wild Angus Campbell
Memories of Wild Angus
The hooded terror known as The Monster was pounding away at Jock Campbell, a 19 stone powerhouse who was now seemingly incapable of withstanding the blows of this disguised colossus. The screams of the fans reached fever pitch as the referee demonstrated an inability to protect Jock by the mere enforcement of the rules. Jock's fate was in the hands of one man, and fortunately that man was entering the far side of the ring to charge across and save his wrestling brother from the dire destiny that awaited him.
The man making his entrance was Wild Angus Campbell, and his appearance led to the inevitable victory of good over evil as Angus and Jock triumphed yet again over The Monster and The Ghoul.
It was an outcome re-enacted night after night from the Chorley Town Hall to the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, to the Town Hall in Stirling. It might not be The Monster and The Ghoul in the opposite corner. It could be Dominic and Casey Pye, Klondykes Bill and Jake or The Undertakers, but the routine was unmistakable. Angus and Jock would confront evil, Jock would be endangered and Angus would come to the rescue. We fans loved it.
But it wasn't always like that.
On other nights, a different Wild Angus Campbell roamed the rings.
Wild Angus Campbell was a chameleon.
Put him in the ring against the body beautiful of Bob Kirkwood, Wayne Bridges, or Judo Al Hayes and we witnessed a darker side of Wild Angus. Angus could be, and often was, a mean, moody and magnificent villain. He would bend the rules, break them, do something even more dastardly, and follow it up with something quite unthinkable. Pete Curry's mother banned Angus from her home after she'd witnessed their friend abusing her boy one night when they were wrestling each other. Inside one explosive package was wrapped an enigma who could inspire conflicting emotions of loathing and loving.
Whether a hero or villain the hallmark of unruly beard, the kilt, and the well worn features made Angus Campbell an instant hit with British wrestling fans when he was signed up to to Joint Promotion rings in August 1967. Fans of independent rings had acknowledged the worth of their sometimes unruly hero for a decade or so by that time, but now it was his destiny to emerge onto the television screens and national prominence.
A televised debut against the popular Spaniard Enrico Edo Juan, quickly followed by one against the heroic John Cox (not to mention subsequent opponents of Veidor, Wall and Tibor Szakacs) and Joint Promotions transformed our chameleon into an outright villain.
Outright villain or not the fans still “took to” the alleged Scot who had been born in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland as Francis Patrick Hoy and was a resident of the English city of Manchester. A background of fairground wrestling, steeplejack and training by Dominic Pye were enough to set him on the road to wrestling stardom.
It was a road begun in 1961 when Angus had turned professional using the name Cecil Logan. Not long afterwards he assumed the persona of Angus Campbell (a name previously used for a short time by Rex Strong). Still with us? Frank became Cecil, Cecil became Angus, and a star was born.
In the first half of the 1960s Wild Angus Campbell, sometime villain, sometime hero, was a main eventer for top independent promoters Paul Lincoln, Cape, Jack Taylor, and Don Robinson. Up and down the country he would face up to top heavyweights Mike Marino, Ray Hunter, Dominic Pye, Don Stedman and the like; he was a main eventer in both singles matches and in tag action usually alongside his wrestling brother, Jock.
In May, 1967, the giant Indian wrestler, The Great Bholu, toured Britain with members of his wrestling family. This was one of the significant wrestling events of 1967. The brothers toured the largest halls of the North, Midlands and Scotland defeating all opponents. Wild Angus Campbell was chosen by promoter Orig Williams as one of the wrestlers to face the Indians. Like everyone else on the tour Wild Angus failed to defeat any of the family, but his appearances in these high profile shows, alongside his 1966-7 success in the German tournaments, brought him to the attention of Wryton Promotions manager Martin Conroy, and his subsequent signing to Joint Promotions.
When Angus joined Joint Promotions the Campbell name was dropped (on most occasions) and he became known simply as Wild Angus. Also dropped, to a large extent, was the Angus and Jock brotherhood, and gone also were the days of chameleon Angus as he was transformed into an out and out villain of the ring. Apart from his looks, by which we mean that Angus looked the part of the heavyweight villain, his other main asset was his strength. It was a natural strength, and another source of astonishment for Angus’s friend, Earl Black, “He had amazing strength, although he never used weights or anything else to increase it!” Earl was quick to point out, though, that technically Angus was also a very good wrestler indeed. For four years Angus built up a reputation as one of the top heavyweight villains, ranking alongside other scoundrels Ian Campbell, Don Stedman, Bruno Elrington. A rivalry was developed with Campbell with contests between them to establish “The True Scot.” Unknown to fans Ian Campbell did have the advantage of actually being Scottish!
A busy worker throughout the country, and welcome addition to any tournament Angus' fame was destined to be unrestricted by geographical borders. In the 1970s he was to find fame in North America, before going on to conquer the Far East and Australia.
Canadian promoter Stu Hart of Calgary based Stampede Wrestling heard of Angus from Geoff Portz and Les Thornton, who had had already established a reputation for British wrestlers in North America.
Stu Hart invited Angus across the Atlantic and consequently a new chapter was opened in the career of Wild Angus. He became Black Angus and was invited to join his fellow Brits in Alberta, Canada on the Stampede Wrestling circuit. Abdullah the Butcher, Bob Lueck, Bob Brown and John Quinn were amongst the big names that opposed Angus.
It was at this time that he was introduced to Earl Black, and the start of a friendship that was to last many years. Earl told us many tales of his wrestling days, and many of them concerned his great friend, Wild Angus.
“Angus had the respect of everyone he met, and was a great ambassador for wrestling” Earl told Wrestling Heritage.
Earl and Angus’ friendship began in 1971, when they were both working for Canadian promoter Stu Hart in Calgary. Whilst Earl wasn’t too surprised to find that Angus’ name was actually Frank Hoy, he was astonished to find that the giant Scot had deeply held religious convictions.
There was further astonishment as Earl got to know Angus. He found that the wild, unruly wrestler Angus was nothing like the man he got to know so well outside of the ring. Unlike his ring persona Frank Hoy was thoughtful and considerate, a quietly spoken man who was always willing to help those in need. “He was a stabilising influence, always ready with words of wisdom or advice for those who had a problem,” said Earl.
The real Angus was a deeply religious man with a strong moral code and a distinct sense of right and wrong. His youth had been spent in a monastery with unfulfilled plans for life in the priesthood.
Soon after arriving in Canada Angus tired of living in hotels and decided to find an apartment, which he did on 17th Avenue, Calgary. Angus and Earl shared the apartment, spending their quieter moments discussing two of their favourite subjects, religion and philosophy.
The North American fans hated Black Angus (who by then had restored the Campbell name) and were more than willing to pay good money to see him beaten. They were often disappointed, though, as Angus found considerable success, twice holding the North American Heavyweight Title. He beat Les Thornton for the belt in 1971, before losing and regaining it from John Quinn and finally losing it to Bob Lueck.
Angus' North American manager, Percival A. Friend revealed that the heavyweight firebrand was a fan of country and western music and would spend his spare time playing a guitar, or sitting on the riverbank for hours whilst fishing.
Percival described Angus as a dear friend that he greatly missed. Percival and Angus travelled side by side along the roads of America for four years. Such was their schedule that when Percival bought a new Cadillac in 1972 the car’s 12,000 mile warranty lasted only twelve days. “I did most of the driving, whilst Angus either slept or sang his favourite song, John Denver’s Country Road Take Me Home.” In the ring Angus was always protective of his non wrestling manager and made sure he came to no harm, “He gave me the strength to do things at ringside that I would have never done before. His ability to command a crowd and whip it into a frenzy has never been duplicated.”
For Percival these were clearly happy days, “The wonderful memories of this great man Angus are etched in my mind eternally.”
Angus wrestled the best that the USA could offer. Wrestlers of the calibre of Pat O’Conner, Bobo Brazil, Bob Orton and the Sheikh were amongst his many opponents. In 1973 he wrestled his countryman, Lord Alfred Hayes in both singles and tag matches. Probably the highlight of Angus Campbell's career was challenging the NWA Heavyweight Champion, Dory Funk Jr, for his title. Following a particularly gruelling match in Kansas the World champion Dory Funk Jr said:
"Black Angus Campbell - He was a big strong man. I once took his "Tombstone" Pile Driver in Kansas City. He dropped me on my head and I felt an electric shock shoot down my spine. Fortunately I was okay and finished the match."
One of the mysteries of post war professional wrestling must be why some wrestlers seem to have a pre-determined destiny of huge success whilst others inexplicably find success but don't quite receive the recognition they seem to deserve. Wild Angus fell into this latter category. He topped bills around the world for twenty years, he engaged with the fans in a way that few could match, was able to change his style to suit the occasion, could wrestle, had success around the world, beat the best in North America, and yet still failed to receive the recognition he deserved from British promoters.
Our conclusion is that Angus got it right, but the promoters got it wrong and failed capitalise on one of their greatest assets. When Angus returned to Britain the wrestling landscape had changed beyond recognition. The Joint Promotion dominance was on the decline, fans were deserting the halls and things just weren't like they used to be. From the early 1980s, Wild Angus Campbell's appearances became less frequent until he finally disappeared from the wrestling scene.
One fan who saw one of Angus’ last appearances was David Franklin, a follower of the sport for more than thirty years. David said: “The last time I saw Wild Angus was a strange experience. It was in Bristol, well into the 1980's, and he appeared 'unbilled' as a last minute substitute in a supporting contest against Pete Wilson. Although well past his prime he gave Wilson a complete pasting, easily winning 2-0 in only three rounds. It was as if he was saying – I know I am past my best and I can only get work as a last minute substitute, but I am much too good to be in the ring with someone like this! ”
On 21 April 2005 Frank Hoy died in a hospital in Stranraer, Scotland, his hometown for some years. The death of Frank Hoy left a void not only for wrestling fans around the world, but also for his many friends, who have attested to his warmth and generosity of spirit. “He was a true friend and I was devastated to hear of his demise,” Earl Black told us. “The friendship he gave me was one of a kind and I miss him dearly,” added Percival A. Friend,
Above all things Frank Hoy was a family man, and he left behind his wife, Celia, children Steven, Colin, Brian, Marie, Christine and Jackie, three sisters, one brother and countless grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Daughter Christine wrote to us, “He was my dad and very much loved by his family. He is sadly missed by my mum who loved him dearly. My brothers and sisters miss him too. Rest in Peace Wild Angus (dad)."
Page revised: 19th April, 2019