W: WALL - WALSH
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
1960s Birmingham based wrestler who worked for the independent promoters. Often billed as Captain Vic Wall, sadly we know little about him. We do know he was also a referee for the independent promoters, and said to be a good one by other wrestlers because he had the talent of not seeing everything.
Tommy Walsh wrestled as Bob Walsh. Whatever the name he was one of the last generation of real wrestling grafters from the home of Catch as Catch Can, Wigan.He was a graduate of Wigan’s Snakepit and one of the last Mountevans style wrestlers to quite literally rub shoulders with legends such as Bill Joyce, Jack Dempsey and Billy Riley. This trio of old masters were instrumental in training a young Bob Walsh who had turned up at the Whelley gymnasium demanding that they teach him to wrestle. Teach him they did, and Bob was one of the minority who returned time and again to learn more about his chosen sport.
Heavyweight champion Billy Joyce took to the youngster and arranged a daily 3.45 pm rendezvous at the gym for Bob’s next lesson in wrestling, the Wigan style. Others that had an influence were fellow Wigan masters Jack Fallon, Roy Wood, Jack Cheers and Ernie Riley. In the early days the grand master himself, Billy Riley, would sit in the corner offering advice whenever he thought it necessary, which seemed to be quite often. Joyce prepared Walsh for his professional debut, with some final preparations for the pro ring coming through Sunday morning visits to Ted Betley’s gym in Warrington for a pull-around with the likes of other youngsters, Bernie Wright and Davey Boy Smith. Having turned professional Bob wrestled for both Joint promotions and the independents, with opponents including Honey Boy Zimba, Sid Cooper , Bert Royal and John Naylor. It was Naylor in the opposite corner when Bob made his only television appearance, narrowly losing by the odd fall. A technician at the start Bob soon learned to mix it and a harder-edge found him often the object of fan’s abuse. Never given the “big push” by promoters Bob remained in mostly supporting contests, though he did share the ring with big names such as Honey Boy Zimba, Bert Royal and tag with Alan Wood.
Following a battle with cancer Tommy Walsh died in August,2008, Wrestler Steve Fury said, "Bob was a very fit and strong wrestler who trained with the very elite in Wigan. A nice man, another sad loss to the wrestling business."
Another of those wrestlers who combined their careers with farming. Middlesbrough’s Norman Walsh was a rough, tough, mid heavyweight who was a long time holder of the British mid Heavyweight title.
Like other Northerners he had an aggressive style that fans sometimes confused with villainy, and a villain he was not. At the top of the profession for many years Norman wrestled Lou Thesz for the World Heavyweight Championship when the American visited Britain in 1957.
A car crash in 1963 put Walsh out of action for many months but he returned to establish his supremacy once again until retiring in the mid 1960s. Royal Albert Hall wins over international stars included Ricky Waldo and Felix Gregor.
Our last recorded Joint Promotions bout for him is against the Zebra kid at Cliftonville in 1967, but he continued for a few more years on the independent circuit. Norman Walsh was landlord of the Dog and Gun public house at Knayton, between Northallerton and Thirsk.
Norman influenced many young wrestlers at the St Lukes Club in Middlesborough and his own gymnasium in Thirsk. He was a well respected member of the local community and is remembered to this day in a cricket competition for the Norman Walsh Trophy.
Bernard Hughes wrote:
"The photo of Norman Walsh with a tan, white dressing gown and the belt was taken just after he returned with the World title from South Africa. A few weeks later he was at Newcastle with the dressing gown now blue. I asked him why he changed it and he said that it had proved to be unlucky. His wife Flo, who always went with him to matches said to me - 'It got dirty too bloody quickly'."