Britain’s heyday of wrestling mania must have been in the late 60s and the 70s, this was the time that the highly popular ITV television program featured a segment called World of Sport. First screened in 1965 the program was dedicated to the world of British sports, including football, boxing and unusually wrestling.
Wrestling until that time did not have proper media coverage, and the favorite Saturday afternoon wrestling bouts turned wrestling into a household mania. Every member of the family, young or old, would sit down and watch legendary figures with extraordinary names take to the ring. This blog is dedicated to these larger than life characters who filled our Saturdays with so much pleasure.
Giant Haystacks as his name might suggest was a huge man, this Londoner tipped the scales at an immense forty eight stone and was six feet, eleven inches in height. His amazing physique and rough and ready appearance made him a pantomime baddie with the grandmothers, so much so that regularly you would see old ladies in the audience hitting him with their umbrellas! Giant Haystacks took on a persona of a wild-west frontiersman and behaved in the ring just like one. He was once a tag partner with Big Daddy until a bitter feud broke the partnership up. Not just a cartoon character, Giant Haystacks during his career, once held the British Heavyweight Title and the European Heavyweight Championship.
Former tag partner with Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy was loved and was very much an icon of wrestling. Big Daddy had a highly unusual first name, Shirley. And perhaps his father had a really great sense of humor or he was working on the same principal as the famous song, A Boy Named Sue.
Crabtree was an ex-miner and he was actually a Coldstream Guard at one point in his life. He massive chest was one of his wrestling trademarks, and at 64 inches it was ideal for bear hugs and the like. Wrestling was in Big Daddy’s blood, his father was a professional wrestler too and taught him many of the moves and techniques that helped him to become one of the greatest wrestlers ever seen in the UK. He also won the European Heavyweight Championship.
Catweazle or otherwise known as Gary Cooper was born in Yorkshire and was one of the most bizarre personas on the wrestling circuit. Cooper caught the wrestling bug early in his life and became a professional quite young. He developed the character Catweazle from the popular children’s TV program of the same name starring Jon Pertwee. His straggly hair and unkempt beard all added to the charisma, and he even took to licking a toad between rounds as a magical sign for good luck and power.
His success over the big stars of the day was mediocre at best, but he added a taste of comedy to Saturday afternoon TV viewing which all added to the great spectacle. These men were not just wrestlers but highly professional entertainers, and we look at more stars of the 70s wrestling era in part two of our blog.