WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

W: WALL - WALSH

 

Wrestling Heritage A-Z


Vic Wall 

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.

Al Walsh

Billed as "The tough guy from Chicago" we can't confirm his place of birth and have our doubts. Al Walsh weighed somewhere between 13 and 16 stones according to the posters. He appeared in British rings in September, 1931 and was around for much of the 1930s, our last sighting in 1937. With a reputation for speed and aggression he was a busy worker and opponents included British champion Atholl Oakeley as well as Harry Brooks, George Clark, Golden Hawke and Charlie Green. Sounds like here was a man who could look after himself. He was certainly no textbook purist and even with the fluid rules of the 1930s he was a magnet for disqualifications. In September, 1936 Al Walsh opened the Southall Sporting Club where members enjoyed boxing, wrestling, dancing and whist drives. He was still a resident of Southall in 1940 when he was a bouncer at the Locarno dance hall but no longer named as owner of the Southall Sporting Club.


Al Walsh

Billed as "The tough guy from Chicago" we can't confirm his place of birth and have our doubts. Al Walsh weighed somewhere between 13 and 16 stones according to the posters. He appeared in British rings in September, 1931 and was around for much of the 1930s, our last sighting in 1937. With a reputation for speed and aggression he was a busy worker and opponents included British champion Atholl Oakeley as well as Harry Brooks, George Clark, Golden Hawke and Charlie Green. Sounds like here was a man who could look after himself. He was certainly no textbook purist and even with the fluid rules of the 1930s he was a magnet for disqualifications. In September, 1936 Al Walsh opened the Southall Sporting Club where members enjoyed boxing, wrestling, dancing and whist drives. He was still a resident of Southall in 1940 when he was a bouncer at the Locarno dance hall but no longer named as owner of the Southall Sporting Club.


Al Walsh (UK)

The name Al Walsh resurfaced between 1959 and 1961. We found just a handful of matches in the north and midlands. Opponents included Joe Critchley, Bernard Murray, Jack Cheers and Terry Downs.


Bob  Walsh
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."

Norman Walsh
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'."