Z: Zabo - Zuma

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

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Zando Zabo

Imagine a heavyweight toughie whose hair looked like there was a constant electric current passing through his body and your image of Venezuelan baddie won’t be far from wrong. The occasional, and often more frequent scratch, bite and punch were all part of the artillery used by the 1960s heavyweight as he hurtled towards frequent disqualification. He was known as “The Wrestling Gypsy,” partly because of his appearance and partly because each year he returned to Venezuela from his travels to help his brother in law on the family farm, or so we were  told. Zabo began his wrestling career in the USA, known as The Elephant Boy, a creation of wrestling promoter Jack Pfefer. At other times he was known as The Wildman of Borneo, but should not be confused with the more widely known Wildman featured in letter W. Following his wrestling career Zabo, real name Bill Oliva, was ordained a Catholic Priest. Zando Zabo died on 6th February, 2008.

Tony  Zale (Also known as Ken Baldwin)

Friends called him “Fluff,” mum called him Ken, but to the wrestling fans of the 1950s  and 1960s Tony Zale was “The Bearded Marvel.”   The Wigan light heavyweight abandoned his real name of Ken Baldwin and adopted that of the more glamorous sounding former world boxing champion. A graduate of Billy Riley's Wigan gymnasium, which speaks volumes, learning the business alongside Francis Sullivan, Ernie Riley, Mel Riss and Roy Wood.  In a career that spanned two decades  Zale was a regular worker for Paul Lincoln Management and numerous other independent promoters. Sometime tag partner of Max Crabtree he made the crossing to Joint Promotions and  a couple of television appearances against Jean Morandi and Frank O’Donnell. Back home in Wigan Tony owned the “Room at the The Top Beat Club,” advertised locally as a “Pseudo Bohemian Coffee House.”

Zalzedo (Also known as Salzedo)
Our interest in  Zalzedo was aroused by his son, Keith, who knew little about his father's wrestling exploits. Keith referred to his father as the Great Salzedo (the spelling of the family name) though all wrestling references we have found use the initial letter of Z.

Raphael Lopez Salzedo, known as Ralph,  was born in Prestwich, Manchester, on 2nd December, 1916, one of nine children born to  Abraham and Rachel Lopez Salzedo. On 23rd February, 1923, the family left their home in Manchester and emigrated to Canada, sailing on the Canadian Pacific liner Montcalm from Liverpool to New Brunswick.

Seventeen year old Ralph, by then a Canadian citizen,  returned to Britain on 25th July, 1934. Shortly afterwards we have found the name Zalzedo on wrestling posters.  In one match against The College Boy Zalzedo is said to be a middleweight who lost to a "smarter" opponent. Other opponents included Cliff Warner, Carl Schultz, and George DeRelwyskow, all supporting contests. The number of appearances we have found are surprisingly few, ending in January, 1936, leading us to wonder if he was known by other names also.

On 11th December, 1937 Ralph Salzedo married Jessie Worster, and the address shown on his marriage certificate  was 97 Coronation Avenue, Stoke Newington, The 1939 Register listed the couple living at 28, Chester Road, Tottenham, with the occupation of Furniture Dispatch Clerk.

Ralph Salzedo served in the army during the Second World War until invalided out. We were unable to find any wrestling activity following the War. At that time Ralph moved to Nottingham and set up in business with his father, Abraham,  and later his brother Benjamin Lopez Salzedo. After the war their name was changed by deed poll  and the family was known as Sells.

The business, which sold an underbody sealing compound for motor cars was successful and sold by Ralph in1964.

Ralph Sells (formerly Salzedo) died in Nottingham on the 21st December 1988 of ischaemic heart disease,  and was cremated at The Wilford Cemetry, Nottingham.

Kid Zamboa 

Visiting Portuguese heavyweight, often billed from Cuba, was something of a classy touch with his scientific style when he  hit British shores on a regular basis between 1958 and 1962. Zamboa wrestled all around the world, reputedly speaking Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.


Josef Zaranoff

The Russian strongman appeared on the Dale Martin scene in the early fifties and stayed around until 1970, going about his wrestling business in a very serious way. His skill attracted the admiration of many, but he lacked the charisma to gain the popularity acquired by others of his generation. A sixten-stone plus heavyweight who could hold his own against the best that Britain and the world had to offer, as exemplified in a 1965 televised classic from Wallasey in which he only went down narrowly in the eighth round to Billy Robinson.  His 1963 victory over Tibor Szakacs in the final of the 1963 Fairfield Hall knock-out tournament is illustrative of the Russian’s standing; as was his selection as one of only two opponents of American Luther Lindsay on the latter’s visit to Britain (th other was Mike Marino). In 1964 he had feuded on the small screen with European champion Billy Howes, the honours shared, and that same year at the Royal Albert Hall he defeated the French Heavyweight Champion, André Bollet. On the final night’s wrestling before the closedown for refurbishment of the Wimbledon Palais, it was Zaranoff who emerged victorious in an 8-man ko tournament defeating Bruno Elrington in the grand final. Later he would tag occasionally alongside Johnny Czeslaw. Born in Russia Josef left his homeland shortly after the Second World War; he  travelled throughout the world but always returned to his UK home, where he was a stalwart of the 1950s and 1960s wrestling scene. In retirement, he became Landlord of The Captain’s Locker in Solihull. 

Ivan Zarynoff

There was a Zarynoff years before the Joe Zaranoff we all liked. Ivan Zarynoff was said to be a technical wrestler who  specialized in nerve pressure techniques. Posters  proclaimed him the world's strongest man, but we have yet to find any evidence of immense strength or  wrestling skill. Reports we have read suggest a rough, tough man with little regard to the rules, and in the 1930s that was saying something.  Nonetheless a  regular feature of British wrestling bills in pre war Britain.

Armando  Zarpanalian 

 “Our man Zorba” proclaimed the Adverts for Greek Armando Zarpanalian, though he was sometimes billed as French and he may well have been based in that land off Britain’s shore!  A skilful middleweight he unsuccessfully challenged Bert Royal for the World Middleweight title at Belle Vue. His solitary British television appearance was in 1969 when he partnered Vassilios Mantopolous in a Cup Final day loss to McManus and Logan.

Warnier Zarzecki

The variously spelt 6'2" Pole visited UK mid-sixties at a time when wrestlers from his country were in short supply and seemed rather exotic.  He had actualy escaped the Iron Curtain and was based in Paris.  When Dale Martin Promotions selected the best that they could offer to appear before the HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1963 (still considered by many to be wrestling’s greatest night) the Polish mid heavyweight was right there on the bill. Zarzecki opened the second half of the tournament with an unsuccessful challenge of Billy Howes for the latter’s European mid heavyweight title. Zarzecki, as suggested here, was a skilful mid heavyweight who wrestled within the rules but was not afraid to use some hard, offensive power moves should the occasion demand.  After his departure and a brief pause, his title of The Polish Eagle was "borrowed" by compatriot Johnny Czeslaw.

Alexander Zass

Alexander Zass may well be a man you know, but probably not for his wrestling exploits. Alexander Zass was the "Man of Iron" from Russia, born in Vilnius (now Lithuania) but at the time of his birth in 1888 part of the Russian Empire. Before his wrestling matches Zass would invite all comers to punch him in the stomach. When those who tried had made no impact a large coal hammer would be brought to the ring, but that too had no effect as it was pounded into his stomach. After all that the wrestling match that followed must have seemed something of an anti-climax. Reports suggest that the Russian's lack of experience showed in the ring, leaving him to rely on his enormous strength, modestly described as the strongest man in the world. Yet Zass's 1930s wrestling appearances were only part of the story. It is for his strong man appearances that Zass is mostly remembered. The Russian had been well known for many years in Britain's music halls as Samson, bending iron bars, breaking chains  by expanding his chest, and driving nails through pieces of wood by the palm of his hands.It has been said that Zass was a wrestler in the first place before concentrating on his strongman act and then making money with the growing popularity of wrestling in Britain. Zass lived in Britain until his death in 1962.

Nicolai Zigulinoff

Here was another of those 18 stone brutes who delighted fans around the world when their clean cut local hero made the inevitable return from the seeming dead following a terrible beating.  The Vulgar Bulgar, as we called him, was a   globetrotting heavyweight who worked throughout Europe and  other parts of the world including Australia and New Zealand. Wherever he travelled he made  a big impression as something of a wild man, and made a big impression in the German tournaments of the early 1950s. 

The bushy haired Bulgarian globe-trotting heavyweight came to Britain in 1958 with cracking contests against big names such as Norman Walsh, Count Bartelli, The Mask and Jack Pye.  He was destined  to return in the early sixties, this time  working for the top independent promoter Paul Lincoln, always on the lookout for overseas talent to complement his home grown talent.

Honey Boy Zimba (Also known as Nigel the Warrior)

The Ebony Hercules from Freetown, Sierra Leone, started out wrestling as Nigel the Warrior in the early sixties before taking on his more mellifluous monicker. The distinctive features, the muscles on top of muscles, the colourful persona, the red and white beads around his neck, combined to make Honey Boy Zimba  one of the most popular heavyweights of the sixties and seventies.  At 15 stone 7 pounds but only 5'7", Manchester-based Honey Boy was ideally placed to take on middleweights and up, and regularly faced Giant Haystacks.  Many anecdotes related to other wrestlers seem to end up "... and so we all went off late night drinking with Honey Boy Zimba."  Went in for the tiniest of war dances but could deliver a whole array of aerial moves, including all manner of head butts, the tail drop and the plank.  One of the most animated of heavy breathers in the Czeslaw mould, and frequently seen in tag action: as a founder of the Black Knights with Ezzard Hart;  then alongside Masambula, Lenny Hurst as well as a memorable World of Sport bout with Butcher Bond against Haystacks and John Quinn; and even in action with Charlie Fisher. Honey Boy was a colourful and popular addition to the British wrestling scene, who sadly passed away at too early an age in 1999.

Karl Zimmerman

We have on record a handful of appearances in 1950 and 1951 by this heavyweight, all of them in the midlands. Opponents included Count Bartelli, Jim Hussey, Larry Laycock, and Hassan Ali Bey, all top of the bill bouts. We would welcome further information.


1970s masked heavyweight who made little impact. Believed to be Brian Hunt under the mask.