WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

D: Dabrowski - Davey

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Adolf Dabrowski
Like so many before him Adolf Kolestrator Dabrowski travelled to Britain following the second world war after his own father had been shot.. He joined a large number of his fellow countrymen and settled in the city of Coventry, applying for British citizenship in 1968. A skilled French polisher by trade Dabrowski took up wrestling and was trained by Freddie Barnes at his gym in Hillfields. He turned professional in the early sixties, quickly billed as the Polish Hercules. His tactics did nothing to endear him to fans, being a rough, tough heavyweight villain of the independent circuit, tackling the likes of Pat Roach, Pete Roberts and Wild Angus Campbell in their formative years. A collector of porcelain and paintings the real life Adolf was far removed from his ring persona. Adolf  Dabrowski died of a heart attack, aged 81, on 30th March, 2006. The funeral was a colourful affair that reflected Adolf's flamboyant personality with a New Orleans style jazz band playing as a horse-drawn hearse carried the coffin to its final resting place. Amongst those queuing up to pay tribute to the influence of this undeservedly overlooked bruiser was Tony Banger Walsh, a long time friend and trainee.

Bull Dagnas
Between January 1937 and July 1939 we have found around forty matches of Bull Dagnas, opponents including Jack Dale, Rex Maxine and Harry Brooks. Bull was described as a short, heavily built wrestler with a devastating Boston Crab specialty. His other specialty was breaking the rules, earning the nickname “The Terror of the Ring.”  He was consistently said to be from Chicago, which he may well have been but we have found no evidence of him in American rings.

Count Daidone (Also known as Conte Dia Donde)
The bearded Italian Count Daidone visited Britain during the winter of 1960-1961, journeying frequently between Britain and the continent, where he wrestled for much of the 1960s. Working throughout the country for Joint Promotions he met a wide range of opponents from 12 stones Johnny Kwango to heavyweights Alan Garfield and Billy Robinson. He failed in his challenge of Mike Marino in their World Mid heavyweight Championship clash held at Sheffield on 14th December, 1960. Heritage member Pantaleon Manlapig has told us that Daidone was well known throughout Europe and often competed in the Austrian and Germany tournaments in the 1960s  and 1970s. Additional information was received from heritage member Indikator, who told us he was surprised to find Daidone wrestling in California in 1956 and apparently he was also in Japan for IWE as Daidone Mussolini in 1972. Other similarly themed names included Giuseppi Daidone and Mario Daidone. 

Mick Dalby
1960s heavyweight from Leicester trained by Jack Taylor, worked for the independent promoters in the 1960s, billed as Midlands heavyweight champion.

Johnny Dallas
A bulky 15 stone American from Chicago Johnny Dallas worked in Britain between February, 1937 and August, 1939. A wrestler capable of displeasing the fans with his rough house tactics. Occasionally nicknamed the "Golden Greek," suggests possible Greek parents. We have found no evidence of his American credentials but there was a Johnny Dallas working in the United States immediately before and after his British bookings.

Mike Dallas
Mike Dallas was one of that multitude of talented 1960s wrestlers who had the skill, agility, looks, and regular television exposure, but never really made it to the top. Born in Warrington, and trained by heavyweight Mick Millman, sporting interests as a schoolboy included rugby, swimming and boxing.  Mike turned professional when he was seventeen years old and quickly established himself as one of the country’s most popular heavy middleweights. Dallas was a television favourite and met the big names such as McManus and Pallo/

He disappeared from British rings and continued his career in Australia where he held the Australian Light Heavyweight Championship for two months in 1977. He defeated Harold Kalevoris on 5 February 1977 in Melbourne to win the title  lost it on 26 March 1977 to Ken Medlin in Melbourne. Medlin was one of the greatest light heavyweights in Australia's wrestling history..

Mike is  fondly remembered for his series of matches against Ken Medlin. They  clashed everywhere from Brisbane to Perth. Dallas got some measure of revenge with a non-title  victory in Brisbane  but when the belt was on  the  line, somehow it was always the villainous Medlin's hand that was raised.

Scrubber Daly (Also known as Malcolm Hardyman, Masked Marauder, Red Mack)
Scrubber Daly was one of those less than scientific heavyweights used by promoter Max Crabtree to perpetuate the myth that his brother, Big Shirley, was invincible. Having said that if you are looking for a man who could snarl, growl and wind up the fans then Scrubber was your man. Men like Scrubber took the bumps to enhance the stars of the day, and for that reason alone played an important role in 1980s British wrestling for which us fans should be grateful. Wrestling Heritage reader Paul Evans was only a child when he watched Scrubber Daly at Weymouth while on holiday and Cheltenham Town Hall, but told us "So to me Scrubber was a real hero. He scared the life out of me the few times I met him in the flesh!" In the flesh Scrubber Daly was Malcolm Hardiman, a milkman from Nuneaton. That might  not sound quite so glamorous but didn't stop Scrubber wrestling in the Middle East and India. Trained by Birmingham's Pat Roach he was initially known as Red Mac, but within a matter of weeks given the name Scrubber Daly by Max Crabtree, often remembered as tag partner of Giant Haystacks,  and later pulled on a hood to become one  half of the  Masked Marauders tag team.

Pete Danby
Warrington middleweight from the Ted Betley stable with a short lived career in the second half of the 1960s.

Tommy Dance
Never let it be said that Heritage fails to reach parts that other sites don’t reach. Tommy Dance was certainly a name we hadn’t come across but Heritage members changed that. A bit of research and we found our earliest reference to Tommy Dance, wrestler from Barnsley,  in the Morecambe Guardian of 23rd February, 1924, when it was reported the “British Lion” had defeated Tommy Dance. This was six years before the introduction of professional all-in wrestling. An even earlier reference, in December, 1916, was found to Tommy Dance of Hindley, but we don’t know if this was the same man. 

In the 1930s we find half a dozen newspaper reports of Tommy Dance of Barnsley (or Doncaster) wrestling the All-In style. In the first  Tommy was beaten by Harold Angus at Doncaster in March, 1931, though the newspaper report does refer to a win by Dance in an earlier match. Interestingly three months earlier Tommy had been  the referee when professional wrestling had returned to Doncaster following a twenty year break, on 15th December, 1930. 

In June, 1931, we found him at Leeds as “Featherweight Champion of Great Britain.” and in a handful of matches up to 1933.

It was Ray Hulm that first raised the subject of Tommy Dance. Ray wrote:
“About the same time that I started attending wrestling shows (1957) I spent some of my hard earned cash enrolling with the Woodward School of Physical Culture. This was one of the many postal training courses available at the time and specialised in teaching all kinds of training including wrestling, hand balancing, strand pulling and much more. They also published a lovely little magazine called SKILL that carried articles on an eclectic range of subjects including professional wrestling and the circus. The school was run by ex wrestler Tom Woodward and his son, Ken and operated out of Blackpool.”  

Eddie Rose added more information:
“I worked for the Woodwards and eventually took over their business - "The Northern Institute of Massage, then at Blackpool but transferred to Bury in 2000. Ken showed me a bill once   "Tommy Dance versus The British Bulldog"   -Tom being his dad. He was a contemporary of Charlie Glover, perhaps the first Red Devil! He wrestled mainly in the period 1920 – 1940s. As well as aspects of physical culture they focused on Massage & Sports Therapy.

Carl Dane (Also known as The Outlaw)
Yorkshire born and Manchester domiciled Carl Dane is just the sort of wrestler that we cherish here at Wrestling Heritage. Whilst other websites are content with the likes of McManus, Pallo and Nagasaki we celebrate the unsung stars of wrestling, the lesser known names who allowed the stars to shine. Carl Dane fits into that unsung hero category, one of the essential deep seam of British wrestling talent. Following his national service an interest in boxing  led to Carl meeting up with Charlie Glover who had a boxing and wrestling gymnasium in Barnsley. Charlie, who wrestled as the Red Devil, encouraged Carl and trained him for a career in wrestling, with a helping hand from other Glover boys such as Jack Land and Dwight J Ingleburgh.  

Son Peter Bradbury told us, "My Dad took his name Carl Dane from the guy who hit the gong at the start of the films."

By the late 1950s Carl was mixing it with some of the hardest wrestlers in the business, men like Jimmy Hart, John Foley and Billy Joyce.  In April, 1968, a match with Ian Campbell at Belle Vue ended with a "No Contest" decision and was talked about for a long time afterwards. Carl was  a popular heavyweight of the 1950s and 1960s, working mostly for Wryton promotions in the North and Midlands. When he retired from the ring he turned  his hand to refereeing at which he was equally successful.  "A good heavyweight and first class referee," recalled ex wrestler Eddie Rose. Carl wasn’t quite so popular when he pulled on a black mask and wrestled as The Outlaw.  Not the original admittedly, but rated highly by all who saw him, and we did! He is also remembered, particularly by fellow wrestlers, as mine host at the Robin Hood public house, close to Manchester city centre, as this was a place they often ended up following a bout at one of the many Manchester venues.  Carl Dane died in April, 2008.

Marius Daniels
Belgian heavyweight visited Britain in 1962, opponents including Billy Robinson, Alf Cadman and  Matthias Rosges . Lost to Gerhardt DeJager at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1962.

Dan Darby
Londoner who competed in the 1951 Empire middleweight championship tournament at Wimbledon and challenged for the British light heavyweight championship.

Dave Daring
1970s and 1980s heavyweight trained by Brian Trevors who could often be found masquerading hooded as The Mummy or long suffering opponent of Big Daddy in partnership with Colin Craig. Dave worked for both the independent and Joint Promotions.

Dark Owl
This 1950s masked man  aroused great discussion in the forum with confurion arising over Dark Owl, Brown Owl and even  sightings of a Black Owl. 

Heritage member Raven ended the frustration by announcing that he was present at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, on the night the masked Count Bartelli defeated and unmasked Dark Owl. 

Beneath the mask was Wigan's Ernie Riley. There have been rumours that Ernie's father, Billy Riley, was the original Dark Owl, a suggestion that seems substantiated by Count Bartelli in his book, Call Him The Count. Bartelli says that he defeated and unmasked Dark Owl, but would have struggled against his father, the original Dark Owl.

However,  we can only find only two references to Dark Owl prior to Billy Riley's retirement in 1947. 

Dark Owl was very busy in the 1950s, mostly in Hanley, which would allow Ernie to be the regular masked man. Opponents  included Dai Sullivan, Black Butcher Johnson, Mike Marino, Dennis Mitchell, Al Hayes and Ray Apollon. in Hanley.

Johnny Dark 
In the early sixties Wimbledon's Johnny Dark seemed to have a promising career ahead of him, having made the transition from a wrestling second at Wimbledon Palais to wrestler. After five years as  an amateur he was twenty years old when he turned professional in 1959. Most of his contests were in the south  for Dale Martin Promotions against the likes of Bobby Barnes, Ray Fury and Steve Logan. Johnny remained a firm favourite around the south for the best part of a decade.  He even made it onto television, unenviably having Steve Logan in the opposite corner. Our memories of Johnny Dark are limited. We do know that we saw him, and we liked him.

John Datus
We have included  John (sometimes Johan) Datus not because we can offer much information but because we have found quite a few matches for him between 1957 and 1964. He was billed from Nottingham as a welterweight or middleweight. All matches were for the independent promoters, throughout he country but mostly in the midlands. Roy La Rue was a frequent opponent; we suspect a connection with promoter Jack Taylor.

Dan Davey
Dan Davey wasn't a big man, but he was powerful and very skilful which meant he wrestled big names at all weights. He lost out to fellow Irishman Pat Corrigan in 1937 at the Royal Albert Hall in a British middleweight championship contest, yet at other times grappled with the powerful Yorkshire miner Bert Mansfield, number one villain Jack Pye, giant Big Ben Buck with classy acts such as Cab Cashford and Sonny Wallis in between. Here was a man who mixed with wrestling royalty.

Dan's wrestling career spanned both sides of the Second World War, finally retiring from the ring in 1951. He was an almost permanent feature on Belle Vue bills during the post war years tackling opponents that included Tony Bear, Rex Gable, Iron Duke, Alf Rawlings, Vic Hessle, Tony Mancelli and Billy Joyce.

When not billed as an Irish champion Dan was billed as the Welsh champion! When not wrestling he played supporting roles in films. He played a stunt double for Jon Lodder in the 1937 film "King Solomons Mines"  Dan served in the merchant navy for six years, fortunate enough to continue his interest in boxing and wrestling during this time. Later in life, during the 1960s, Dan was a bouncer at the Playboy Club. Not bad work if you can get it.

21/12/2019 Mike Dallas entry updated

23/06/2019: Addition of Bull Dagnas, Johnny Dallas and John Datus

21/06/2019: Addition of Tommy Dance