W: Woolley - Wrigley
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Fred Woolley may well not be the first name recalled by fans of the good old days but here at Wrestling Heritage we contend that here was one of British wrestling's great welterweights. Okay not Jack Dempsey or Alan Colbeck, but not far behind. Salford's Fred Woolley turned professional in 1950 and within a year was travelling the country meeting the likes of Alan Colbeck, Jack Dempsey, Chic Purvey and Johnny Stead. Norman Morrell rated the young wrestler and in July 1953 gave him a tilt at the British lightweight title against champion Eric Sands. Throughout the 1950s Fred worked regularly for Joint Promotion members in the north and midlands, but in 1959 left the Joint Promotions camp to work for the opposition promoters, and set up his own promotional business. Fred went into partnership with fellow wrestler Danny Flynn, and began promoting throughout the north and Scotland under the Cape Promotions banner.
The east end of Londoner Bill Workman worked for London waterboard during the day and for the independent promoters in the 1960s, often for Jack Taylor's International Promotions, but for many others also, including Paul Lincoln. Mick Collins told us, "I remember Bill very well and had the pleasure of working with him when I was very young and just started in the business. I Seem to remember he gave me some tuition in the ring that night (only me and him knew) which I never forgot."
Bernie Wright (Also known as Bearcat Wight)
Bernie Wright was the brother of Wonderboy Steve Wright. With a few years experience under his belt he crossed the Atlantic to Canada in 1983 as Bernie Wright, developed a more rugged style from Britain’s John Foley who was living there and returned unrecogniseable as Bearcat Wright. Heritage member Mad Mac remembered: “Bernie returned from Calgary as Bearcat Wright with a rather bizarre "reverse Mr. T" hairstyle. Also rather bizarrely, ‘Bearcat Wright’ was a well-known US wrestler who died prior to Bernie adopting the name. The original Bearcat also happened to be a gentleman of colour!”
A big man weighing 19 stone and over six feet tall Texan Reuben Wright was brought to Britain in 1938 to wrestle Canadian Earl McCready at the Royal Albert Hall in London.The contest promised to be another revival of scientific Catch-as-Catch-Can style, but the bout failed to capture the public's imagination despite coverage in the national press. Daily Express reporter, John McAdam, said the wrestling was so good it had converted him to the wrestling business. Three thousand fans turned up to witness McCready win by one fall to nil in the sixth round, but that wasn't enough to prevent the promoters making a loss. Wright wrestled around the world, finally retiring from the sport in 1965.
Reuben Wright died on 9th November, 1983
Wonderboy Steve Wright (Also known as Bull Blitzer)
The sixteen year old really did seem a “Wonderboy Wright,” as he was billed, when he hit the Northern wrestling circuit aged just sixteen years old. He whizzed around the ring like no other and can justly be considered the start of the 1970s speed revolution.
His first professional bout, a sensational win over veteran Romeo Joe Critchley, was a clear sign that here was a youngster with huge potentia.l He was the forerunner of a contingency that included the likes of Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith and took wrestling to new levels of agility, athleticism and speed.
Wright was trained by Ted Betley, the man who was to later bring aforementioned Kid, Smith and Marty Jones into the professional wrestling business.
Later in his career Wright adopted the persona of Bull Blitzer, an alleged German villain, who defeated Marty Jones for the World Mid heavyweight title in December, 1984. It seemed ridiculous to us then and equally so now. Steve travelled to Japan, where his agility was valued, finally settling in Germany.
His son, Alex Wright, went on to also become a successful wrestler.
Harold Wrigley was one of the old timers from Manchester, known for his body building skills and renowned as a very strong Manchester heavyweight. He had a gymnasium in Failsworth, Manchester, where many wrestlers learned the trade in the 1950s and 1960s. Harold wrote the foreword for Pete Lindop's book, “6ins Nail & Iron Bar Breaking made easy.” He also had a business sideline of selling health products, packed by his wife we believe. Harold also wrestled as the Rasputin in the 1960s.