WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

A: Abella - Aguirre

Wrestling Heritage A-Z


Joe Abella
The Maltese born wrestler with Australian credentials was honoured with a double page spread in The Wrestler magazine when he visited Britain in January 1966. Even so, we can find reference to only a couple of British appearances, one of those being a straight falls loss to Joe Murphy.  We have found documentation of Joe in Australia in the early sixties, but even that is scant. The Wrestler magazine reported that Joe had moved from Malta to Canada when a teenager, moving on to Australia and turning professional in 1956. He seemingly went on to win the Australian light heavyweight championship, but apparently no one told Iron Jawed Joe!

Jorani Abraham
We are intrigued by the Israeli heavyweight Jorani Abraham, who visited Britain in November, 1964. He was here for less than three weeks working for Dale Martin Promotions and yet throws up two mysteries. Firstly, he wrestled Joe Cornelius at the Royal Albert Hall, and beat him! Now Joe Cornelius was a darling of the Albert Hall. It was quite a rare thing for overseas visitors to beat the Brits at the London venue, but for Cornelius to go down was unheard of. Yet Cornelius submitted twice to the Israeli. The second mystery relates to the television recording from Kingston on Thames on 14th November. Jorani wrestled the top rated Canadian Gordon Nelson. Yet the match was not broadcast, dropped in favour of three lesser contests.  Other opponents during the visit were Ramon Napolitano, Josef Zaranoff, Alan Garfield, Paul Vachon, Tony Cassio, Bruno Elrington, Roy Bull Davis, and Gerry DeJaeger,

Accra (Also known as Ackra)
Fans of 1960s wrestling will most likely remember a popular wrestler called Majid Ackra. Unknown to most of us at the time was that Majid Ackra was the son of a very well respected wrestler. The wrestler known as Accra, sometimes Great Accra, in the 1930's, 1940s and 1950s. Karam Rasul Kashmiri, that was  Accra's birth name,  was born in India on  17th May, 1911. He was  an Olympic competitor in the middleweight freestyle wrestling event at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Accra wrestled in Britain during 1938 and 1939.   Following the Second World War he moved  to Manchester where he combined ownership of a drapery store in Moss Side with wrestling commitments throughout the north and midlands.  Naturally he also trained his son to wrestle before passing young Majid Ackra on to Jack Atherton for final preparation as a professional wrestler.

Achmed the Turk
Blackpool based stocky, moustachioed heavyweight of  the early and mid sixties who wrestled for both the independent promoters  and Joint Promotions. Wrestled some of the big names of the time, including Dave Armstrong and Gordon Nelson, usually on the losing end. 

Former amateur wrestler Allan Best recalls meeting Achmed when training in  Lancashire, "I was astonished when he appeared in the ring sporting a moustache and unable to speak English."  

Reader Mike Richards has supplied photos of Achmed during a bout with Billy Joyce at Bromsgrove.

Cowboy Ken Ackles
Cowboy ken Ackles, the swaggering Stetson wearing heavyweight billed from the mid wets of the United States was actually born in Nova Scotia, Canada, on 13th July, 1916. Most of his adult life was spent in the United States where he combined a wrestling career with that of actor in B movies. 

Cowboy Ken brought his swagger and his rugged tactics to  Britain in the winter of 1963 when he  promised more than the over-rated Americans who preceded him. Whilst the boasting may have been real the achievements did not live up to expectation. A Royal Albert Hall loss against Tibor Szakacs and further defeats by lesser rated British heavies confirmed British fans' opinion of American wrestlers.  

Following a professional career that took him around the world Ackles died, aged seventy in Houston on 5th November, 1986

Majid Ackra 
Wrestling tournaments of the twentieth century were peppered with unlikely sounding names from all corners of the globe. Some were from no further afield than Blackpool or Bognor. Majid Ackra was the genuine article. A stocky, powerful Pakistani heavyweight, he would stride into the ring wearing his turban and white robe. Born in 1937 he came to Britain in his mid teens and wrestled in the UK during 1960’s and early 1970s. Following a professional debut against Vic Hessle he went on to compete against wrestlers ranging in style and weight from middleweight champion Clayton Thompson to  heavyweight bruiser Johnny Yearsley. He left the UK in 1967 for a three year tour of India and Pakistan, and boasted of defeating the great Dara Singh, though the former Indian champion must have been past his peak by this time. Following a successful career in the UK he moved to North America in the 1970s, returning in the seventies as a much harder edged wrestler.

Black Belt Chris Adams
When Stratford's Chris Adams joined the ranks of the professional matmen in 1978 it was soon apparent that the judoka apparel was no gimmick. Adams was a former national judo champion who turned to wrestling after being chosen for the 1976 Olympics judo squad but had not been selected to compete. Introduced to wrestling by his friend, Jackie Turpin, it was watching Dynamite Kid in action that inspired Chris to graduate to the professional ranks. Peter Kaye helped prepare Chris for his professional debut (against Kaye himself).

Chris quickly established himself as a fan's favourite, doubtless helped by so many of his early bouts having his reliable mentor,  Kaye, in the opposite corner.  With added confidence he was soon matched against other established villains John England, Sid Cooper and Mark Rocco. Adams style worked best against the rule benders. To say that he was given a "push" is something of an understatement as he was given national exposure in no fewer than seven televised contests between July and December in the year he made his professional debut. We can think of no one else who rose from the ranks of tackling trusty Peter Kaye in his tv debut and went on to oppose Mick McManus in both single and tag combat in a matter of weeks. 

Whilst we do not dispute Adams talent and believe he could have been a main eventer in any post war period the development of his short UK career is characteristic of much that was wrong with British wrestling in the late seventies - little formal wrestling training, tv over-exposure, a too rapid rise through the ranks, judo matches, entanglement in the Big Daddy routine, and gimmick contests such as the one in which he threw McManus the required ten times without being thrown himself.  

In 1980 a Japanese visitor to the UK, Yasu Fuji, encouraged Chris to try his hand in the United States. In 1981 Chris Adams began wrestling in America, where he later moved. He found success in the United States, on which our American readers might like to expand,  but that was the beginning of another tragic tale which led to his untimely death in a gunshot incident in October, 2001.    

Dirty/Crazy Dave Adams (Also known as Pitmans Hercules, Undertaker Doom)
Crazy Dave Adams, the name says it all - a tremendous heavyweight villain. It seems that half of Barnsley must have been down at Charlie Glover's Junction Gym. Dave Adams was there, learning the business alongside Pedro the Gypsy, Dwight J Ingleburgh, Karl Von Kramer, Bruno Elrington and the other Barnsley lads. 

A one time fan who watched his wrestling at the Doncaster Corn Exchange it was a chance meeting with Leon Arras that led Dave to the Junction Gym of Leon's father. That was in 1959 and Dave trained for two years before making his debut, aged just 17, against Dwight J Ingleburgh  He learned the trade well, travelling up and down the country enraging fans with his dastardly deeds against opponents that included Les Kellett, Ricky Starr and Shirley Crabtree. In the 1980s Dave was re-fashioned  Pitman's Hercules by promoter Max Crabtree, a name revived from the all-in days of British wrestling.  Dave Adams was also one of the faces behind the mask in the 1990s version of The Undertakers tag team, his son Johnny Angel being the other half.

George Adams
Welterweight wrestler from York who was very active in the early sixties working for Morrell-Beresford and Relwyskow and Green against the likes of John Foley, Chic Purvey, Alan Colbeck and Keith Martinelli. There was a George Adams in the 1940s, could this have been him? Or we wonder, could this have been Roger Adams, known to wrestling fans as Steve Best?

Robert Adams (Also known Black Eagle, Black Tiger)
Robert Adams was a pioneering figure in the rings of the 1930s who demonstrated  that the colour bar of the day could be overcome in wrestling and the other professional area in which he excelled, acting. 

For wrestling fans Adams was more familiar using the noms de plume Black Eagle and Black Tiger. He was the son of a boatbuilder, born in British Guiana. In 1920 Adams won a scholarship to train as a teacher at Jamaica's Mico teacher's training college. Robert took up amateur dramatics whilst teaching in British Guiana and following his move to Britain took up wrestling to supplement his acting aspirations.

Robert began appearing in films as an extra in 1934, and made history when he was the first black actor to appear on British television. This was  in 1937,  and the following year he was the first black actor to play a lead role on British television.  In 1946 Robert had a leading role in “Men of Two Worlds,” another pioneering role as a lead non-American black actor in a British film. Robert Adams also founded the Negro Repertory Arts Theatre.

 As a wrestler Adams was active in British rings throughout the 1930s, usually facing top names such as Atholl Oakeley, Bill Garnon and Sam Rabin.

Keith Addy
Scunthorpe's Keith Addy, who worked mainly for Cyril Knowles in the latter 1960s and early 1970s, could certainly move around the ring; no doubt helped  his experience as a gymnast. Mind you, being nimble didn't stop him from being a tough fellah with muscular physique. Don't take our word for it; that's the opinion of Ray Robinson, himself recipient of the Hard As Nails Award from the Wrestlers Reunion. Keith and Ray trained together and Keith was Ray's first professional opponent. As the more experienced man he gave Ray a hard time in that match, but Ray trained hard to return the compliment a short time later.

Professor Adiwasser  (Also known as Professor Attewaza, Gaby Calderon, Jose Calderon)
The Oriental term Ate Waza denotes techniques that use impact to accomplish their goal. 

The Continental heavyweight Gaby Caldereon considered Professor Attewaza a fitting name to adopt when he entered British rings in the early 1960s.  

The name quickly metamorphosed into the softer sounding Professor Adiwasser. 

Whatever the name the bespectacled barefoot Parisian became one of the main event favourites of the fledgling Paul Lincoln Promotions.  Fledgling promoter Lincoln scoured the continent for new faces to draw the fans to the shows he was presenting in opposition to Joint Promotions. In 1960 he imported Frenchman Gaby Calderon to face his assortment of top independent heavies who included Alan Garfield, Prince Kumali, Docker Don Stedman, Dr Death and Judo Al Hayes. 

Adiwasser was to remain a loyal worker for Lincoln, visiting a couple of times each year until Lincoln merged with Dale Martin promotions in January 1966. Following the merger Adiwasser was not seen in Britain until January 1968 when he returned for Joint Promotions. On 24th January he made his first appearance at the Royal Albert hall, drawing with Judo Al Hayes, and shortly afterwards  was an immediate hit with television fans when he made his debut, against Johnny Czeslaw, in February 1968. 

A second dan black belt judoka exponent, (known as “The king of Attewaza) this  popular technician was the scourge of heavyweight villains.  When the technician had worked his magic he would often finish off his opponent with his speciality sleeper hold. 

Black leotarded and now wearing a black mask, a heavier  Professor Adiwasser appeared briefly in British rings during the early 1980s, making a  television appearance against Johnny Wilson in June, 1981. Beneath the mask was the very same Gaby Calderon. The masked Adiwasser defeated  Wilson with a sleeper hold. 

Mohammed Afzal 
Leeds based Pakistani wrestler who made a couple of televised appearances. The first was against Blackjack Mulligan, televised from Leeds in 1986. In a tv show from Walthamstow he faced Terry Rudge in May 1988. This was  was part of a knockout tournament. The contest ended in a draw, but was awarded to Rudge on points. 

Rolando Aguirre
Billed as Mexican, but actually a Peruvian according to our knowledgeable member Pantaleon Manlapig, He was born in Lima on 27th August, 1943.

Rolando weighed around the 13stone mark when he visited Britain for six weeks  in the spring of 1975. Although in his thirties at the time he appeared a fairly inexperienced wrestler and may have come to Britain to gain experience in the business.

He made a televised appearance against Harry Palin, a hard man to handle we have been told, and came out victorious. A Royal Albert Hall appearance was a much more challenging proposition, showing the promoters were willing to do him no favours in the capital. He was matched with the mouch heavier, vastly experienced and hugely popular Mike Marino. There was nothing but a predictable defeat in store that night.

Other, more realistic, opponents during his short tour  included Alan Dennison, Mick McMichael, Bert Royal and John Mitchell,

At the end of April Rolando moved on to Germany to work the German and Austrian tournaments. His British experience served him well as he earned international acclaim using the name Rolo Brazil until the early 1990s.  Rolo Brazil sometimes teamed with his (real life) brother Katu Brazil (Maximo Aguirre).

Page revised 12/03/2021: Chris Adams, Dave Adams, George Adams, Robert Adams, Keith Addy, Professor Adiwasser added

27/12/2019: Entries for Jorani Abraham and Accra amended