British wrestling history          
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B: Babka - Bandele

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Rudi Babka


Muscular heavyweight campaigner  visited Britain in 1952, met the likes of Mike Marino, Don Stedman  and Alan Garfield.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information. 


Cubana "King" Badu

From Havana, Cuba, this heavyweight visitor  came to Europe in the early 1950s where he made an impact on the Spanish wrestling scene.

He moved on to the UK where he stayed for three months in 1955 during which time he wrestled Brixton's Iron Man  Steve Logan at the Royal Albert Hall.

Known in his homeland as Negro Badu his family name was Ernesto Diaz Barcelo. Following his time in Britain wrestled from 1954-6 in German cities  Bremen, Hannover, Münich and Nürnberg.

Badu went on to work in the United States, finally retiring from professional wrestling in 1961. He then returned to Cuba and taught amateur wrestling.

Tony Baer
Tony Baer.....There's a name from the past that will bring a smile to our more senior readers. "Tony Baer was a bundle of dynamite" said Barnsley's Sam Betts, known to wrestling fans as Dwight J Ingleburgh.

He was one of the top men of that decade, often wrestling fully blown heavies but too light to make a formidable opponent for the toughest men of them all like Bert Assirati or Douglas Clark.   It was shortly after the all-in wrestling rules were introduced into Britain in 1930 that the young Glaswegian  dropped  his birth name of  Burn in favour of  Baer and began  travelling up and down the country day in, day out, facing British stars Bulldog Bill Garnon and Bert Mansfield as well as overseas visitors Whipper Watson and Pat Curry. 

The work rate of the young Scot was phenomenal and he was just as likely to be seen wrestling in Plymouth as he was in Edinburgh - remarkable in those pre-motorway days.

In 1935 he claimed the Scottish heavyweight championship until losing it to George Clarke.  To be fair he was not a fully blown heavyweight and although very skilful did not have the power to compete with the likes of Assirati. Nonetheless he was one of the finest of the lighter weight heavyweights. With the outbreak of war Tony's appearances were unsurprisingly reduced, but he did manage to remain active, mainly in the north, during the war years. 

Following the war Tony, now living in Accrington, resumed activities at full speed and was soon travelling up and down the country once again. Heritage member Alleyman told us,  Tony Baer  lived in Hapton, a group of houses between Accrington and Burnley. He had a small flock of goats and his wife sold milk to interested mothers. Mine was one of them He was a motor bike fanatic. My Dad, a policeman used to come home regularly after his night shift and tell us they had caught Tony again.The police car used to clock his speed [Tony's] coming down Manchester Road, and another car would stop and book him three miles further on. They never could apprehend him at the speeds he was doing!

In 1950 with the British light heavyweight championship vacant he reached the final of a knock-out tournament only to lose to Norman Walsh in the final on 17th September, 1951, in Edinburgh. Tony continued full throttle until the mid 1950s when he began to cut back on his wrestling commitments.

Bernard Hughes told us "I remember seeing Tony Baer at Newcastle in the 1950's. A real hard man from Scotland and he knew his way around a ring.  Saw him in a couple of good contests with Norman Walsh. Neither of them were 'real' heavyweights although they fought regularly at that level.”

In retirement Tony moved to the Staffordshire village of Rocester. He maintained an interest in wrestling and training others in the art. In 1962 the Rochester wrestling club opened for adults (extended to children in 1978); it was named the Tony Baer Wrestling Club, commemorating one of wrestling's greats.
Chris Bailey

Short dark hair and good looks didn’t prevent Brixton’s Chris Bailey becoming an unpopular presence on the South of England wrestling scene. 

Although a regular in the late sixties and early seventies, and not being short of ability, he made little impact despite his frequent outbursts describing what he was going to do to Jackie Pallo and Mick McManus. The fact was that in the 1960s and 1970s competition was very fierce and even capable workers sometimes failed to stand out in the crowd.  

Chris was eighteen when he turned professional in November 1966. His unruly style, which frequently led to disqualification,  angered the fans. Chris made his television debut in May, 1968, against popular Len Hurst. It was to be the first of around a dozen television appearances, but in terms of his win-loss record the promoters never allowed him to shine. For a brief period in his career Chris swapped his identity for that of a masked man, bringing sufficient originality to grab a place in theWrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.

Chris's profile stepped up a gear when he formed a tag partnership with fellow Londoner Dick Conlon. They called themselves the Artful Dodgers. The Artful Dodgers had what must have been one of the most nondescript gimmicks of British wrestling, calling out numbers to one another (they described it as an elaborate code) which was allegedly a secret way of communicating to outwit their opponents. Oh yeah!

Laurie Bailey

We have no first hand knowledge of Laurie Bailey, feel sadly lacking, and hope someone will come to our rescue. That's because we have records of Laurie Bailey wrestling in 1951-2 and facing top rated welterweights Fred Woolley, Alan Colbeck, Jack Dempsey and Johnny Stead.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Tommy Bailey

Oldham's Tommy Bailey had a bit of a reputation as a rough 'un inside the ring.

Rough and very fit that is, because Tommy's stamina wasn't just the result of hours spent in the gymnasium but also a consequence of his preferred method of getting to venues, by bicycle.

We are not just talking local. Dwight J Ingleburgh remembers the many times Tommy cycled from his home in Oldham to wrestle in Barnsley, and then cycled back again; a round trip of some sixty miles!

Wrestling (and his bike) took Tommy around the north of England for the best part of thirty years, from the early 1950s until well into the 1970s. Tommy worked for the independent promoters, facing a range of opponents including Johnny saint, Fred Woolley, Cyril Knowles and Danny Flynn. Tommy Bailey died when he was 79, but his spirit  lives on with his grandson, Clinton Steel, now making his way in the wrestling world.

Peter Bainbridge


As the Mountevans era reached it's twilight years a new star erupted onto the wrestling scene. Peter Bainbridge was the teenage lightweight wrestling sensation of the 1980s, defeating Johnny Lee at the Royal Albert Hall in April, 1987, on All Star Promotions one and only show at Britain's premier venue.

Peter turned professional aged fifteen and within his first three years as a professional held the European lightweight title a remarkable three times. He beat Jon Cortez for the title in Bath on 25th February, 1987, before losing and regaining it from Jim Breaks finally losing  to Breaks for the third time in April, 1988.

Could it have happened in the old days?

We doubt it, and suspect that Peter's meteoric rise tells us more about the state of wrestling than about Peter Bainbridge.  Our opinions may be unfair to the young wrestler as by 1988 we had long ago lost interest in wrestling. We would welcome the opinions of our more knowledgeable 1980s fans.


Lazlo Bajko

Being of suspicious minds we are suspicious of the Hungarian lineage of this classy welterweight campaigner of the 1960s, but would like to be proved wrong.

Nonetheless Lazlo Bajko was a skilful welterweight technician campaigner of the independent rings in the 1960s, meeting and beating top opposition men  such as Jack Taylor and Killer Ken Davies. Was even billed on the independent circuit as European welterweight champion.

There was a brief moment of fame for the young wrestler in 1963 when he was featured in the Pathe News (remember them?) wrestling Jack Taylor in a match newsworthy because the referee was a vicar, the Rev Reginald Thompson.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Rough House Baker

A man who started life as plain George Baker of Plymouth. Not for long, though, as George stretched even the elasticated rules of All-In to their limit and became Rough House Baker, disqualified around the country to the best in the business. No friend of referees, Rough House Baker was one of the busiest workers of the 1930s, as noted by his inclusion in our Top 1930s wrestlers.

Con Balasis

Con Balasis was born in Greece in 1918, moving to Australia in his youth and acquiring Australian citizenship. He wrestled in Australia during the 1930s and later began to travel to Asia. He was a particular favourite in Singapore during the second half of the 1940s. Mind you, an earlier visit to Singapore had not been quite so fortunate.

During the war when he was sailing to India his ship docked in Singapore. Balasis was detained and spent the following three years interned in two Japanese prisoner of war camps, Sime Road and the notorious Changi. It was in one of the internment camps that Con met his wife, Marguerite, for whom he used to steal rice (Marguerite with Con on the right). 

In 1947, in Singapore, Con Balasis  wrestled Jeff Conda for the "British Empire Zone Championship of the Far East." Jeff Conda, of course, went on to become masked man Count Bartelli on his return to Britain. Maybe it was mixing with the many British wrestlers who worked in Singapore following the end of the second world war that encouraged Balasis to try his luck in Britain.

In November, 1948 when promoter Atholl Oakeley promoted a wrestling spectacular at Earls Court with Bert Assirati and The Angel main eventing  Con Balasis wrestled on the supporting programme. With this being a promotion where Oakeley put on the biggest names  available it is a sign of the significance of Con Balasis in the post war heavyweight scene. He remained a familiar figure in Britain for the remainder of the 1940s. Despite being a regular main eventer Balasis sometimes resorted to donning a mask and calling himself The Red Shadow until he  was ceremoniously unmasked by Mike Demitre in 1949.

With thanks to the friends and son of Con Balasis.

Ernest Baldwin

Tingley's Ernest Baldwin was a national cycling champion in his teenage days and a member of the Tingley Road Club. Eventually wrestling came to the forefront of his sporting interests, which also included football and swimming. Ernie learned his wrestling from the Olympic wrestling representative Henry Inman. 

When Britain's top post war heavyweights are considered the name Ernest Baldwin is sure to crop up. He was a frequent heavyweight campaigner from the 1940s to 1960s , British champion at times no less, before turning his hand to refereeing. Ernest Baldwin turned professional in 1939, when he lost to the Farmer (George Broadfield) in Leeds, and took  up the sport full time in 1947 following his wartime service.  For a short period in the 1940s Baldwin was one of many wrestlers who donned a mask and became the Masked Marvel.

In 1952 with the formation of Joint Promotions Ernest won a heavyweight tournament to gain recognition as the first Lord Mountevans heavyweight champion, a title he was to hold on and off  throughout the 1950s. Three times during his career Baldwin was recognised as British heavyweight champion. The photo shows Ernie attempting to pin Ron Jackson during one of the elimination contests of the open heavyweight championship tournament. 

His career would have been even more illustrious, and no doubt longer, had it not been dogged by injury, twice breaking his leg and once suffering from pneumonia, each time keeping him out of action for many months. Ernest wrestled the best on offer, including an unsuccessful championship tilt with  world title holder Lou Thesz when he visited Britain in 1957.  A second broken leg in May 1961, during a match against Billy Joyce in Newcastle,  ended his wrestling career, but did not prevent Ernest going on to become one of the country's top referees.

Mike Bandele

Apart from a handful of showings on Dale Martin Promotions in the summer of 1969 our only knowledge of Mike Bandele comes from his unexpected inclusion in “The Who's Who of Wrestling,” (published 1971). The book claimed he was the Nigerian middleweight champion  and owner of an electrical store in Lagos.  

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.