R: Rabut - Reggiori
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Erstwhile French and European lightweight champion Jean Rabut visited Britain in the early 1960s. Opponents included the welterweights big three of McManus, Pallo and Dempsey, alongside a Royal Albert Hall victory over Bernard Murray, which a decade later was said by Bernard to be one of his most memorable contests.
Ragnor the Viking (Also known as David Cross, Ox Brody, The North Man, Dave Viking)
Heavily tattooed and well endowed in the facial hair department the variously named 1970s/80s heavyweight villain from Merseyside worked for both the independent and Joint Promotions.
A massive man who usually towered over his opponents Ragnor was an imposing figure in the ring. Ragnor would challenge opponents to an "Axe match" in which each contestant carried an axe; and we wonder why we went off wrestling! Following a grounding on the independent circuit Dave Cross made the transition to Joint Promotions, where he made television appearances, in various guises, against Wayne Bridges, Tiger Gil Singh and Ray Steele. Ragnor wrestled extensively in Germany, Austria and South Africa, using the name Dave Viking. He liked Germany and, Gernot Freiberger tells us,.moved to Germany as an organic farmer, and part time street entertainer.
Eddie Burton learned the business at the St Lukes Club and at the gymnasium at the Alexander Pub, Middlesbrough, working for independent promoters in the 1970s as Guy Rainer. An electrician by trade Guy Rainer retired from wrestling in his mid twenties.
The powerful Spanish heavyweight from Barcelona visited Britain in 1965. A mixed bag of results including wins over Gerry DeJager, Earl Maynard and Ramon Napolitano alongside losses to Danny Lynch and a draw with the lighter Johnny Czeslaw. In the photo he is about to post Roy Bull Davis.
Dave Ramsden (Also known as Reggie Ramsden)
Half a century after the most popular days of British wrestling there remain some men who are hardly remembered. Men with skill, such as Dave Ramsden.
Young Yorkshireman Dave Ramsden, from Ossett, was trained by former British heavyweight champion Ernest Baldwin at his gymnasium in Tingley, Yorkshire. Well, he couldn’t have had a much better tutor.
Dave turned professional in January 1966 and was to remain a busy yet unspectacular worker on the Joint Promotions circuit for a dozen years before disappearing towards the end of 1978.
Many of his earliest matches were against fellow Yorkshireman Mike James (Mick Jackson) but by the end of the year he was opposing a greater range of more experienced opponents such as Peter Preston, Sid Cooper and Ted Heath. He worked mainly in the north of England and Scotland for all the Joint Promotions companies. A frequent worker for Relwyskow and Green Promotions meant that Dave often worked in Scotland, a tag partner of Andy Robin and a member of the Eldorado All Star Wrestling team , captained by Andy Robin and largely populated by Yorkshiremen (Ian Gilmour, Mick McMichael, Jim Mckenzie and Alan Bardouille were also in the team at the time). During his career he wrestled most of the bigger names in the lighter weight divisions: Jim Breaks, Mick McManus, Zoltan Boscik and Vic Faulkner. We cold find record of only one television appearance, which surprised us; losing to Jackie Robinson by the odd fall in a match broadcast in July 1975. Towards the end of his career promoters gave him the name of Reggie Ramsden. Maybe it was his actual name. Apologies offered. Sorry to Reggie's everywhere, but the boy deserved better.
Leif Rasmussed was the blond heavyweight from Copenhagen who was dubbed the "King of the Vikings" when he visited Britain in 1954 and returned for an extensive tour of southern England during the winter months of 1964- 1965. Reality was that the Nordic Viking was Austrian, born in Vienna, with the birth name of Franz Vorhemus.
A six year amateur career led to a professional debut when he was eighteen years old. A liberal interpretation of the rules meant that the King of the Vikings was not exactly cheered by the fans, and disqualification losses were not unknown.
Amongst losses against the best of the natives he was able to claim a surprising Royal Albert Hall win over Steve Veidor. He was one of the many colourful characters who graced British and European rings in the 1950s and 1960s.
The name most often associated with the name Rasputin is that of the wild Irishman Johnny Howard, who is listed under the letter H. Another famed Rasputin, outside of the UK was Frank Hoy, otherwise known as Wild Angus Campbell. We have a couple of other masked Rasputin's for you. Manchester's Harold Wrigley and Leeds' Jim Armstrong took the name in the independent rings of the 1960s, the latter a masked version.
1950s heavyweight Jack Ratcliffe, from Bingley in Yorkshire, turned to wrestling after completing his national service. We have no further information, other than his father collapsed and died at a wrestling tournament in Keighley having just watched his son wrestle.
Lou Ravelle is remembered not just as a pro wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s, oft under the guise of Le Masque Rouge, but also as the owner of one of London's first fitness gymnasiums, editor of Wrestling World magazine, a bookshop owner in Bloomsbury, and in later life a hypnotherapist in Majorca.
Lou wrestled as an amateur at Manchester YMCA before being introduced to fairground wrestling by his friend Jean Morandi. In the fairground booths he learned many of the techniques that would prove essential in the professional ring, “We were paid 15/- for the match. If it was a good match fans would be invited to throw money into the ring, “nobbins,” and forom those we could make another 30/- each.”
When he moved to London Lou began working for Dale Martin Promotions. He befriended a young Australian named Paul Lincoln, and provided valuable publicity for the fledgling promoter through the Wrestling World magazine, “Paul paid me handsomely for the work I did promoting the Dr Death v White Angel match.”
Editor of Wrestling World magazine, which covered both independent and Joint Promotion wrestlers, Lou was adamant when he spoke to us fifty years later that whilst the independent promoters were supportive Joint Promotions “Squashed us and after two years we were forced to fold up.”
Lou Ravelle was a mainstay of the London wrestling scene over twenty years, a member of wrestling's greatest haunt, The Mandrake Club, and was close friends with Paul Lincoln, Al Hayes, Joe D'Orazio, Bert Assirati and many other big names.
In 2004 Lou received the Oscar Heidenstam award for his lifetime contribution to sport.
Ripper Raven (Also known as Iska Khan)
A great 1960s - 1980s villain on both the independent and Joint Promotions circuit, and a man who could rouse the emotions of fans. We first saw him on an independent bill around 1970, when he used the pseudonym Iska Khan.
Said to have been Mongolian, but Blackpool was closer to the truth for the fearsome, shaven headed (apart from a pony tail) heavyweight. John Raven was was a very believable Iska Khan, from Fleetwood in Lancashire. Working for Joint Promotions he assumed the name Ripper Raven, and was good heavyweight toughie. In half a dozen or so televised contests in the 1980s he was matched with quality opponents that included Andy Robin and Tiger Gil Singh.
“I worked with Ripper Raven in his previous existence as Iska Khan from Mongolia - and very good he looked, too. He was accompanied into the ring by a beautiful oriental girl second. As we know, all was not quite as it seemed. Iska was a local lad and he told me the girl was on loan from a Chinese restaurant in Blackpool.
He described to me his trips as a deep sea trawlerman; both of them. He said the first one was so horrendous, to Icelandic waters that he felt he had to try again but the second trip was worse than the first. So he stuck to wrestling and became a real crowd pleaser both as the exotic Khan and as General Ripper Raven. Wrestling's gain and Bird Eye's loss.”
The character changed and the ponytail was lost in the 1980s when he transformed into General Ripper Raven.
Surely a hero of all us ageing wrestling fans? Do we sympathise or do we celebrate a man who lived his dream? Keith Rawlinson was a Burnley schoolteacher who had his ambition fulfilled in a British television programme by training as a professional wrestler. Months of training from Sid Cooper and Peter Kaye were not enough to save Keith from a good hiding from one of the hardest of the 1970s wrestlers, John Naylor. Keith retired at the end of the fourth round, never to set foot in the wrestling ring again. If you're reading this Keith, do get in touch and tell us your story.
In September 1962, following in the footsteps of the original Chief Thunderbird and Billy Two Rivers, came another native American. Entering the ring, wearing the standard native American gear, New Mexico’s Chief Red Eagle, arrived in the UK following combat in Australia and the Far East.
Graeme Cameron has told us that the Red Eagle who wrestled in Britain at this time was Kimo Mahi from Hawaii. Mahi portayed himself as three native Americans during his career, though worked mostly under his own name. He died on 7th September, 1992, aged just 60.
Billed in Britain as a Ukrainian with a Polish mother, Red Ivan was brought in as cannon fodder for Big Daddy in one of the more pitiful storylines that the latter days of British wrestling had to offer. Ivan appeared on television and vastly outweighed his first opponent Andy Blair. A further demolition job ensued on Burly Barry Douglas, who again gave away over two stones in weight. Just when Red Ivan seemed to be establishing his reputation as a formidable likely opponent for full blown British heavies such as Davies or Roach or Bartelli he was required to succumb most unbelievably to the out of condition “Mams and Dads Favourite”. Fans were left wondering about what might have been, and a good showman and fine athlete let his entire reputation go up in smithereens. SaxonWolf has told us "Red Ivan was Richard Krupa, who wrestled under various names, such as Vladimir Krupoff, a Canadian with Russian born parents who had begun his wrestling career for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling.
The blond haired tiger from Yorkshire appears to have been around for only a short time, between 1950 and 1952 working for Atholl Oakeley. Appeared in high profile contests at Harringay and other halls that used Oakeley’s Twentieth Century Catch rules. Won Oakeley’s Junior heavyweight championship, a title open to under 25 year olds. Seemingly disappeared when Oakely stopped promoting. Did he assume another wrestling identity?
Steve Regal (Also known as Roy Regal)
Codsall is a village in the county of Stafford and it’s most famous son is Darren Matthews, known to British fans of the 1980s as Steve Regal and internationally as William Regal. He is one of the few to gain long term substantial success in the United States. Steve learned the business under the guidance of Blackpool wrestler and promoter Bobby Barron, working around the holiday camps, fairground booths and small halls of northern England. They were busy days and he gained a great deal of experience in a short time.
Signed up by Max Crabtree to work for Joint Promotions Steve is well remembered in Britain for his tag pairing with Robbie Brookside. Adorning our television screens in 1986 Steve came in at the tail end of televised British wrestling and the Heritage years. A determined success seeker we are pleased to include Steve in our Heritage tributes, disappointed only that the state of British wrestling meant he was forced to find fame elsewhere. As wrestling went into near terminal decline in the UK Steve worked on mainland Europe and in 1993 crossed the Atlantic to become one of the top performers for all the major US promotions, transforming into William Regal and Lord Steven Regal on the way. His story can be read in full in "Walking the Golden Mile."
There was an active wrestling scene in the east of England around 1970. Bill and Ron Clarke, Brian Trevors, John L Hagar and dozens of other local wrestlers entertained wrestling enthusiasts on a regular basis. This was the environment that enthused a young twenty year old to get involved in the sport. All that and encouragement from his father in law who wrestled locally as Gypsy Bonito and taught him the rudiments of the business. Danny Regan turned professional in 1971. For fourteen years he entertained the fans, working mostly for Le Royale Promotions. Danny enjoyed his time in the business and told us that Downham Market Town Hall was the best of the lot!
Sean Regan (Also known as The Zebra Kid)
When we think of rugby league players turned wrestler earthy Yorkshire miner types instantly spring to mind. Here we have the language-teaching Ulsterman from Derry who was born in 1936 and moved to London 1946. Sean was born Gerry Murphy and overcame all kinds of barriers to become a teacher in a challenging London school.
That was the day job, but in the evening Mr Murphy became the stylish heavyweight wrestler Sean Regan. He kept the two lives separate and no one at the school knew of his other life. That was until the end of 1964. In September he appeared on television and defeated Gorilla Don Mendoza. A few weeks later he faced the Russian Yuri Borienko on tv.
“Gerry’s big secret is out” was the headline of the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Sketch opted for “After reading ‘riting and ‘rithmetic Sir gives a lesson in rought ‘restling.” The national press revealed that Mr Murphy of St Wilfird’s Schoo was leading a double life. It’s just as well the Head Teacher rejected Sean’s offer to give up wrestling or the nation’s television viewers would have been deprived of more than twenty-five appearances against top men that included Danny Lynch, Bruno Elrington, Ian Campbell and Tibor Szakacs.
Wrestling was most definitely a means to en end. The money he was earning through wrestling at the time was to be used to pay for further studies and a Masters Degree.
Sean defeated Dr Timmy Geoghegan for the Irish Heavyweight Championship in Belfast only to lose the belt to his tag partner Pat Barratt and then reclaim it for a run through the seventies.
His part-time wrestling career fizzled out at the end of the 1970s behind a mask as a latter day Zebra Kid, quite possibly because his promotion to a Deputy Headship was considered a conflict of roles by the school’s Governors.
Sean’s Indian Death Lock was one of the great special holds in its day, and had Kendo Nagasaki submitting in the sixties at the Royal Albert Hall.
He was a regular visitor to German and Austrian rings during his summer holidays to wrestle in their international tournaments. He also worked in British Columbia, Canada, during the early months of 1973, temporarily leaving teaching. He was to return and become Head Teacher of a school in Lancashire. Sean was also one of the eleven recording stars that sang "Tiptoe Through The Tulips".
An accomplished wrestler who we enjoyed at the time, had considerable success at an international level but we can’t help having a feeling of unfulfilled potential.
As for those academic aspirations. Sean went on tobe awarded several university degrees, a Doctorate of Philosophy and write a numerous books. The boy didn’t do too badly.
French welterweight spent a week or so in Britain during the winter of 1958-59. Opponents included Mick McManus, Bert Royal, Jack Dempsey and a Royal Albert Hall defeat by Johnny Kwango.