A: Abella - Ackra
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
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!
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
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.
Page revised 27/12/2019: Entries for Jorani Abraham and Accra amended