W: Waddington - Walker
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Keith Waddington was something of a surprise inclusion in the The Who's Who of Wrestling, because he was by no means a household name of the 1960s or 1970s. We do know that he was respected by those who knew him and those that wrestled him, and that he was trained at Bradford's Hilltop Club and Relwyskow's Leeds Gymnasium, so his credentials were first class.
We were told that Keith disliked travelling far from home, and therein probably lies the reason for his low profile and premature disappearance from the wrestling circuit – Relwyskow and Green demanded from their workers a willingness to travel to their Scottish venues. We later learned that Keith aversion to travelling was that he was the carer for his father, Ronald, and it was these responsibilities that prevented him fulfilling the required travelling commitments of a professional wrestler.
Keith Waddington died, aged 71, on 13th March, 2015.
Birmingham born lightweight moved to the Isle of Man and learned to wrestle at the George Barnabus Club alongside Phil Barry and Bill Kennedy in the early 1970s. The lads would work weekly shows on the island during the summer months and monthly during the winter, alongside the dozen or so locally based wrestlers and imported stars such as Klondyke Bill, Orig Williams and Gordon Corbett. We are not aware of him travelling further afield.
Bradford's George Wade will be remembered by most Wrestling Heritage readers as one of the top referees in the 1960s. Prior to that he was a wrestler in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
A regular worker for the independent promoters, particularly Paul Lincoln in the early 1960s. Opponents include veterans like Ed Bright and Tony Zale as well as Lincoln's new kids on the block Bob Lincoln, Dave Larsen and Al Fontayne. On occasions Syd would pull on a mask and assume the identity of The White Angel.
Professional wrestling is full of larger than life characters, and none more so than Vladimir Waldberg, "The Polish Eagle." Only the biggest of names, McManus, Pallo, Assirati, Bartelli and a few others have had their deaths reported in the national press, but add to that list Vladimir Waldberg whose obituary in The Guardian stated, "Unfortunately, Rondel initially did not understand that the idea in professional wrestling – even in the days when so-called "hard holds" were applied – is not to maim your opponent, and it took some harsh lessons from the British champion Bert Assirati to explain this to him."
Assirati was a frequent opponent of Waldberg in a career lasting less than ten years and interrupted by numerous encounters with the law. Waldberg, real name Norbert Friedrich Rondel, was born in Berlin in 1929. Following his mother's death it seems the nine year old boy was abandoned by his father. With the outbreak of war imminent the Jewish boy was transported to Britain, and a new life in Manchester, as part of the Kindertransport programme.
A fitness fanatic he turned professional wrestler in 1951, adopting his mother's first married name and appearing as Vladimir Waldberg, the Polish (sometimes White) Eagle.
Admittedly Rondel's infamy mainly resulted from his activities outside the ring, "an unusual variety of scrapes with the law," according to the Guardian. Found guilty of grievous bodily harm in 1959 he attempted to sue his barrister for professional negligence, claiming he had bitten off part of his victim's ear and not cut it off as claimed. In his appeal that followed Rondel was permitted time out of the court room to stand on his head and clear his thoughts. Rondel appealed to the House of Lords who ruled that a barrister could not be sued for negligence. Rondel campaigned against the decision for years until the was changed in 2002. On his release from jail Rondel became involved with property entrepreneur Peter Rachman, serving further periods in prison.
Norbert Friedrich Rondel, otherwise known as wrestler Vladimir Waldberg, died on 19 June 2009, aged 81. He was buried on 30 June at Waltham Abbey Jewish cemetery.
Okay, we admit to never having seen Ricky Waldo in action, but we have seen the results and those disqualifications could not have been a result of misfortune or accidental. This man was even disqualified against Jim Hussey! Not that the muscular heavyweight didn't have credentials. Aslam Pahelwhan was said to rate him as one of his toughest opponents, and he was a one time challenger to Lou Thesz for the NWA World heavyweight championship (he lost!) At the Royal Albert Hall he faced Norman Walsh, and lost, another disqualification! Ricky Waldo was born in Norfolk Virginia, USA, but was based in Alberta Canada.
In the mid
1970s an energetic newcomer with a famous name hit the northern
wrestling circuit. Fans knew the name Waldo, but this wasn't Ricky
Waldo, this was Woody Waldo. Apart from the name there were few
similarities. Woody was no heavyweight for starters, he was an
energetic, tough and accomplished welterweight. He worked for
northern promoters Jack Cassidy, Orig Williams, Brian Dixon, and
Bobby Barron in some cracking matches with Adrian Street, Mike
Jordan, Marty Jones and Jackie Pallo.
Promoter Graham Brooks recalled the night Woody arrived at the hall suffering from a previous injury but not wanting to let down the fans or the promoter, " He arrived a few minutes before bell time hardly able to move. He was in no state to wrestle two bouts with opponent Karl Mc.Grath. They were planned to be fast-moving affairs but the tenor of the bouts had to change considerably due to the state Woody was in. It was this, I think, which first pushed Woody Waldo into the position where he had to be a rulebender and it was a role which he came to relish in later years, particularly at Liverpool Stadium. A great joker and a nice guy."
Many of his memorable matches were at the legendary Liverpool Stadium, one of them a tag match in which he partnered Adrian Street against the team of Ricky Starr and Jon Cortez. Woody was an effervescent character with a good sense of fun who enlivened many an otherwise dull bout.
Harry Walker was from Heywood in Lancashire, a battler from the end of the Second World War as we find a report of him beating Pat Brennan at Fleetwood in 1947. Other opponents around this time included Alan Colbeck, Jack Wentworth and Emile Poilve. A wily character who liked to wrestle the hard way Harry could arouse emotions in the fans. Sam Betts remembers one lady fan, Clara, who would regularly poke her walking stick at Harry on his way to and from the ring. On her 90th birthday Clara was sat in her usual ringside seat and Harry walked in and presented her with a bunch of flowers. We last find Harry wrestling Terry Nyland at Edinburgh in 1964.
He stood nearly seven feet tall and weighed 25 stones. This was at the end of the Heritage Years in 1988 when he faced Pat Roach on television. We weren't impressed. He was Canadian though. That's a big country, lovely scenery, friendly people.Members tell us he went on to become Big Sky in WCW. Powerlock told us he was better known as Tyler Mane and played Sabretooth in the X-Men. Count Von Zuppi told us " I travelled and worked with him. And he stayed a few nights in the spare room at my parents' house.." Now that's the attention to detail you expect at Heritage.
Page revised 26/10/2019: Addition of Harry Walker