The bell has rung, and it is now time for the second round of our blog to celebrate the great British wrestlers of yesteryear. In part one legendary names such as Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy took to the canvas and in this blog, we look at wrestlers like Pat Roach, Davey Boy Smith, and Mick McManus. Many of the wrestlers that were famous in the 70’s heyday of the World of Sport era, were household celebrities. Every member of the family knew who they were and lapped up the amazing characters that they wrestled under. This is why many of the wrestlers such as Brain Glover and Pat Roach went on to acting roles later in their career, and appeared on TV and in film.
First and foremost, Pat Roach was a professional wrestler, but became a highly popular actor later in his life. Born in Birmingham, Pat Roach was a natural fighter, in 1960 he was a National Judo Champion and two years later became Midland Area Black Belt Champion. Pat Roach was by no means popular with the fans, he was looked at as a wrestling bad guy who would be happy to do illegal things in the ring when the referee had his back turned. It is true his character was similar to another big star at the time, Mick McManus, who would be loudly booed for just getting in the ring.
As an actor he appeared in multiple films such as Indiana Jones, and his role as Bomber Busbridge in the highly popular Auf Wiedersehen Pet television series changed wrestling fans attitudes towards him.
Davey Boy Smith
Dave Smith became Davey Boy Smith when he first appeared as a fifteen-year-old wrestler on the World of Sport program. He was an instant favorite with mums and grans all over the country, and Young David stole the hearts of impressionable teenage girls. Smith became an accomplished wrestler, and he went over to the United States and became one of the first British exports to have success in the WWF. He was billed as the British Bulldog and achieved all the glamour and glitz he richly deserved. Sadly, Dave Smith died at the young age of thirty nine after a sudden heart attack.
Mick McManus was a tough Londoner but had quite an unremarkable physique. It is quite amazing that he became as popular as he did in professional wrestling, and perhaps it was because his portrayal of a bad guy was extremely believable. At five and a half feet tall, he was quite a diminutive character but still commanded such nicknames as, The Man you Love to Hate, and the Dulwich Destroyer. During his bouts he pushed the rules as far as he could without getting disqualified, but he still managed more TV appearances than any other wrestler. One of his trademark moves in the ring was a ruthless short-range forearm jab.
These literally larger than life characters made wrestling famous in Britain during the golden TV age of the 70’s. They inspired many young boys and girls to take up the sport and dream of being famous, and they sowed the seeds for the modern wrestling that is now so popular all over the world.