British wrestling was at its hight throughout the 1970s and 80s. It was thanks to the big and bold stars of the era that help it gain such popularity, so today we take a look at the most memorable stars from four decades ago.
Big Daddy, real name Shirley Crabtree, was a legendary figure in the world of British professional wrestling. Born on November 14, 1930, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Crabtree rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the most iconic and recognizable figures in the world of British wrestling. Standing at an imposing 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing around 26 stone (364 pounds), Big Daddy became known for his distinctive look, which included his trademark leotard and bald head.
His popularity soared as he engaged in memorable matches, often against his arch-rival Giant Haystacks, drawing large television audiences. Big Daddy's larger-than-life persona and his contributions to the sport made him a beloved figure among wrestling fans, solidifying his place as a true legend in British wrestling history. He passed away on December 2, 1997, but his legacy continues to live on in the hearts of fans who fondly remember the era of Big Daddy and his impact on the world of professional wrestling.
Shockingly, Big Daddy has been rejected entry to the wrestling hall of fame.
Giant Haystacks, born Martin Ruane on October 10, 1946, was a towering presence in the world of British professional wrestling during the same era as his renowned adversary, Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree). Standing at an impressive 6 feet 11 inches tall and weighing around 48 stone (672 pounds), Giant Haystacks earned his moniker with his colossal size and formidable in-ring persona. Hailing from Manchester, England, Ruane's career spanned several decades, and he became a household name for his memorable matches against Big Daddy, creating one of the most iconic rivalries in British wrestling history.
Despite his imposing stature, Giant Haystacks was known for his agility and surprising athleticism. Following his wrestling career, Ruane briefly entered the world of acting, showcasing his versatility. Unfortunately, Giant Haystacks passed away on November 29, 1998, leaving behind a lasting legacy as one of the giants of British professional wrestling, forever remembered for his contributions to the sport.
Haystacks would have a minor career resurgence when he debuted for World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s. Sadly, he would be diagnosed with cancer shortly into his WCW run and would return to the UK.
Kendo Nagasaki is the ring name of a mysterious and enigmatic professional wrestler who gained prominence in the world of British wrestling. The character is known for its unique and captivating persona, featuring a Japanese samurai warrior who wore a ceremonial mask and kept his true identity hidden. The man behind the mask, Peter Thornley, portrayed Kendo Nagasaki with an aura of mystique, adding an element of theatricality to his performances.
Kendo Nagasaki became a mainstay in the British wrestling scene during the 1970s and 1980s, captivating audiences with his martial arts-inspired moves and captivating presence. The mystique surrounding the character extended beyond the ring, contributing to Kendo Nagasaki's legendary status in British wrestling history. Thornley's commitment to the character, combined with the secrecy surrounding his true identity, added an extra layer of intrigue to Kendo Nagasaki's legacy, making him a memorable figure in the annals of professional wrestling.
Mick McManus was a pioneering figure in British professional wrestling. McManus rose to prominence during the 1960s and 1970s as one of the most iconic and skilled wrestlers of his time. Hailing from London, England, McManus had a charismatic and often villainous persona in the ring, earning him a reputation as a formidable "heel" character. His feuds with other wrestling legends, such as Jackie Pallo, became legendary and drew large audiences.
McManus was a multiple-time British Welterweight and World Mid-Heavyweight Champion, showcasing his technical prowess and ring savvy. Beyond his in-ring accomplishments, Mick McManus became a household name in the United Kingdom, thanks to his frequent appearances on television, where he became a key figure in popularizing professional wrestling. Mick McManus passed away on May 22, 2013, leaving behind a lasting legacy as a trailblazer in British wrestling and a beloved figure in the hearts of fans.
Johnny Saint, born John Miller on June 29, 1942, is a revered name in the world of British professional wrestling. Renowned for his exceptional technical skills and mat-based expertise, Saint is often hailed as one of the premier "scientific" wrestlers in the history of the sport. His career spanned several decades, with notable prominence during the 1960s and 1970s. Saint's wrestling style was characterized by a fluid and seamless combination of holds, escapes, and counters, earning him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Holds."
Throughout his career, he competed against a multitude of opponents and held various championships, showcasing his versatility and mastery in the ring. Johnny Saint's contributions to wrestling extended beyond his accomplishments as he played a significant role in training and mentoring younger talents, leaving an indelible mark on the British wrestling scene. His enduring legacy as a technical virtuoso and a respected figure in the wrestling community continues to be celebrated by fans and peers alike.
Jackie Pallo, born on January 12, 1926, was a charismatic and flamboyant British professional wrestler who left an indelible mark on the world of wrestling during the mid-20th century. Known for his theatrical antics, colorful personality, and distinctive mustache, Pallo became a household name in the 1950s and 1960s. He often portrayed a villainous character in the ring, earning the ire of fans and engaging in memorable feuds with other wrestling legends such as Mick McManus.
Pallo's popularity extended beyond the squared circle, as he made appearances on television, contributing to the mainstream success of professional wrestling in the United Kingdom. His penchant for showmanship and entertaining storytelling, both inside and outside the ring, solidified his status as a key figure in the British wrestling scene. Jackie Pallo's legacy endures as a pioneer in the art of wrestling promotion, showcasing the potential for wrestling to be both athletic and entertaining. He passed away on February 11, 2006, but his contributions to the world of professional wrestling continue to be remembered fondly by fans and fellow wrestlers alike.
Adrian Street, born on December 5, 1940, is a flamboyant and trailblazing figure in the world of professional wrestling. Hailing from Wales, Street is renowned for his unique and avant-garde persona that challenged traditional expectations in the sport. Debuting in the 1950s, he rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, captivating audiences with his androgynous and theatrically flamboyant character. Often adorned in glamorous outfits, complete with makeup and glitter, Street incorporated elements of performance art into his wrestling persona.
Despite his provocative appearance, Street was a skilled and accomplished wrestler, showcasing a diverse array of in-ring abilities. His unapologetic individualism and charisma made him a memorable and polarizing figure, earning him a place as one of the most iconic characters in professional wrestling history. Adrian Street's influence on the industry extends beyond his in-ring performances, as he paved the way for wrestlers to express themselves creatively and authentically, challenging conventional norms in the process.
Marty Jones, born on January 26, 1949, is a retired British professional wrestler whose technical prowess and contributions to the sport have solidified his place as a respected figure in the wrestling world. Debuting in the late 1960s, Jones quickly gained recognition for his exceptional grappling skills and mastery of various wrestling holds. Hailing from Manchester, England, he became a fixture in the British wrestling scene during the 1970s and 1980s. Jones competed against some of the best in the business, earning a reputation as a tenacious and skilled performer.
His technical acumen and ability to adapt to different styles made him a sought-after opponent. Beyond his in-ring achievements, Marty Jones has also played a role in training and mentoring new generations of wrestlers, passing on his knowledge and expertise to contribute to the development of the sport. His legacy endures not only through his accomplishments in the ring but also through his impact on the wrestling community.
Mark "Rollerball" Rocco (Mark Hussey):
Mark "Rollerball" Rocco, born on July 11, 1951, was a prominent British professional wrestler known for his dynamic and high-energy style in the ring. Debuting in the late 1960s, Rocco quickly gained attention for his agility, technical prowess, and aerial maneuvers. His nickname, "Rollerball," reflected his fast-paced and acrobatic wrestling style. Rocco was a key figure in the British wrestling scene during the 1970s and 1980s, engaging in memorable matches with various opponents.
He held championships and became a fan favorite for his charismatic persona and thrilling performances. Rocco's influence extended beyond the United Kingdom, as he also made a mark in Japan, showcasing his versatility and adaptability in different wrestling landscapes. Sadly, Mark Rocco passed away on July 30, 2019, but his legacy lives on through the impact he had on the wrestling world and the fond memories he left with fans who appreciated his exciting and innovative approach to the sport.
Les Kellett, born on May 28, 1915, was a British professional wrestler whose unorthodox and comedic style set him apart in the world of wrestling. Debuting in the 1940s, Kellett gained fame during the 1960s and 1970s for his unique approach to grappling, characterized by exaggerated facial expressions, playful banter with his opponents, and a comedic flair that endeared him to audiences. His unscripted and humorous antics, often involving feigned exhaustion and theatrical stalling, created a distinctive persona that made him a beloved figure in British wrestling.
Kellett's performances were a departure from the more serious and traditional styles of his contemporaries, offering a comedic respite in the ring. Despite his entertaining approach, Kellett was a skilled wrestler with a deep understanding of the sport. His influence on the wrestling landscape, particularly in the realm of character-driven entertainment, endures as a testament to his ability to blend athleticism with humor, leaving a lasting legacy in the hearts of wrestling fans. Les Kellett passed away on July 28, 2002, but his impact on the world of professional wrestling remains memorable and influential
These wrestlers made significant contributions to the world of British wrestling in the 1970s, and many of them left a lasting impact on the sport.