British wrestling history 
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S: Saari - Sandilands

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Arnie Saari

Rugged Finnish heavyweight Arnie Saari visited Britain in the winter of 1965/6 wrestling in the north of England and Scotland against opponents that included Bill Rawlings, Billy Joyce, The Mask,,Norman Walsh and Gordon Nelson. When Arnie made his UK debut on television in November, 1965, he was placed in the safe hands of Mr Ultra Reliable Jim Hussey.

Arnie began his professional wrestling career in Australia working for Sydney promoter Hal Morgan, making his debut in 1960. In 1962 we found him in Cabramatta Civic Hall knocked semi-conscious by the Black Hun and reportedly taken to hospital.

After retiring from wrestling he concentrated on his business interests, a building restoration company.  Arnie Saari died in July 2019.

Sabu (Gurdial Singh)

Gurdial Singh, or Sabu as he was most often billed, was another of those fast and clever welterweights who we thought had the skill and charisma to take him to the top. We last saw him in wrestling action in March 1971, back on the independent circuit wrestling Billy Ryan, It was an impressive performance against another newcomer, Sabu displaying an extensive range of wrestling holds and nipping around the ring at bewildering speed. Previous appearances against Earl McCready and Hamid Ali Gil were just as pleasing and we did expected Sabu to be given more of a push when working for the bigger promoters. To add a splash of colour to what was already a colourful appearance Sabu would demonstrate an ability to smash a collection of roof tiles before many of his contests.

At the time we were writing an article on him for Ringsport magazine, and he was eager to tell us of his recent appearance at the Royal Albert Hall. Sid Cooper was in the opposite corner, and although Sabu had lost the bout he was very proud of his appearance at the venue. We guess that bout must have remained the highlight of Sabu's career. Gurdial told us he was born in the Punjab and moved to the United Kingdom when he was nine, eventually settling in Coventry. At one end of the Public Hall stood a magnificent organ chamber, and it was beneath this that he told us that it had always been his ambition to play the organ! Experience in the fairground booths taking on all challengers led to a professional debut against Micky Fear. Sabu worked for the independents for half a dozen years before being signed up for Joint Promotions in June 1969, working most often for Wryton Promotions. An energetic, athletic style made him popular with fans, all the more memorable for the dramatic demonstration of tile smashing with the side of his hand. Results on the Joint Promotions circuit were mixed and after a couple of years Sabu returned to the independents, forming a formidable tag partnership with Killer Joe Burns. We were pleased to meet up with Gurdial Singh once agin in 2010 at the Leeds Reunion.

Johnny Saint

Read our extended tribute: Escapology and Endurance

Tony Saint
Dark haired, clean cut lightweight from Huddersfield worked for independent promoters in Yorkshire in the 1970s.

Harold "Odd Job" Sakata
See the entry for  Great Togo

Tino Salvadore 
The Belgian based Sicilian, and self-styled master of the back drop-kick,  made a couple of  British television appearances as part of a Continental team taking on UK wrestlers. His  televised debut against Tug Wilson is recorded in Armchair Corner (see photo).  Following his undistinguished British tour of 1973, which included a Royal Albert Hall defeat at the hands of Brian Maxine,   Tino made his way to the USA where he found greater success under a variety of guises: Salvatore Bellomo, Crazy Bellomo, Centurian Marsella, Salvatore Martino, Adonis Romano, and Wildman Bellomo. 

Pasquale Salvo
.The 1960s middleweight was born to Italian parents Pasquale Salvo was a tough South Londoner, born and brought up  in Bermondsey. It was a hard life and the kids of Bermondsey grew up tough in order to survive. It was an upbringing reflected in his compromising ring style. 
The Anglo Italian middleweight tagged with Peter Rann as the Riot Squad, Salvo was a rule-breaking hell-raiser and hated by the crowds - except in Bedford and Peterborough where the large Italian migrant community  gave him fully vocal support. An ex-boxer who had a particularly noteworthy feud in 1964 Southend with British Champion Jack Dempsey and came out on top twice.  A one time waiter, driver, greengrocer and latterly a petrol station proprietor petrol sales must have boomed for Pasquale disappeared from the fight scene in the late sixties.
Great Salzedo 
Our interest in the Great Salzedo was aroused by his son, Keith, who knew little about his father's wrestling exploits. Ron Historyo uncovered these references to Salzedo from 1934 and 1935, and reported the bout with Young Warner was stated to be the best bout of the night.

Keith told us "As a family we had no recollection of these other than my father who was called Ralph Lopez Salzedo used to be a wrestler during the 30's. He did not have any historical eveidence of his exploits during this time. He had returned from Canada as a naturalised Candian citizen we believe in the year 1934. He immigrated to Canada in 1923 with all his family, some of whom stayed in Canada and America. He joined the army at the otbreak of WW11 but was invalided out some time later.

He was living in London and the address shown on his marriage certificate on 11th December  1937 was 97 Coronation Avenue, Stoke Newington, His profession was given as an assistant Transport Manager, Furniture manufacturer. His father (my Grand father) was Abraham Lopez Salzedo whose profession was an Advertising Publisher.

By the end of the war my father moved to Nottingham and set up in business with his father and later his brother Benjamin Lopez Salzedo. Their name was changed by deed poll soon after this from Lopez Salzedo and the family was known as Sells. 

The business soon developed and they started selling a product called Nova Seal which was an underbody sealing compound for motor cars. This was very succesful and during the 1950s and 1960s expanded considerably. By this time the family connection had split and gone their own separate ways in business, although my father retained the Noval Seal business which he sold to another company in 1964.

My father died in Nottingham on the 21st December 1988 of ischaemic heart disease. and was cremated at The Wilford Cemetry, Nottingham." 

Al Sammy
See the entry for  Dwight J Ingleburgh

Mal  Sample
Cheshire's Mal Sample came onto the pro wrestling scene in 1961 and during the first half of the 1960s  seemed to be everywhere in the north and midlands. 

A busy worker, usually for Wryton Promotions, he wrestled most of the lighter men, and a few of the heavier ones, between 1961 and 1966. On television he faced Ivan Penzekoff at Crewe Town Hall, not far from his home in Congeton.

 His disappearance was as swift as his appearance and Mal was suddenly lost to the wrestling scene.

After leaving wrestling Mal became heavily involved in stock car racing and collecting vintage trucks. We would very much like to learn more about Mal whose career promised so much and lasted so briefly

See the entry for  Rex Strong

Samurai Warrior
See the entry for Dick Harrison

Superstar Sanders

Roger L Sandilands
Unfortunately our paths never crossed with the popular worker on the the independent circuit in the 1960s and 1970s. Well remembered as the  tag partner of Al Hollamby in The Diaboliques tag team.

Page revised 24/10/2019: Arnie Saari entry updated