S: Saari - Sandilands
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
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. Began his professional wrestling career in Australia working for Sydney promoter Hal Morgan, making his debut in 1960.
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.
Read our extended tribute: Escapology and Endurance