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Wigan wrestling history

Started by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

I am looking for any information on wrestling in the town, or wrestlers from the town of Wigan - EDIT - or wider Wigan borough.
I am currently undertaking extensive research, of which I am sharing snippets on twitter (@wiganwresthist). My longer term plan is to pull my findings together into a book or comprehensive website to celebrate the heroes of yesteryear.
I'm pretty well versed in some of the bigger names, Riley's gym, the British Bulldogs and have almost completed research pre-1900s but am interested in anything people have to share - whether it's memories or knowledge of matches, relationships with wrestlers, or better yet pictures or memorabilia.
I look forward to reading your comments.

Started: 8th Mar 2021 at 19:15
Last edited by WiganWrestlingHistory: 31st Mar 2021 at 19:16:21

Posted by: tonker (28076) 

I'll share with you that John Hindley (British Bulldog) wasn't from Wigan and neither was Tom Billington (Dynamite Kid).

Replied: 8th Mar 2021 at 21:23

Posted by: tuddy (1308)

I used to live near Riley's Gym, The Snake Pit. One pro wrestler who trained there was Tommy Moore. His ring name was Jack Dempsey. I think he was British Middleweight champion at some time. There was a documentary made about the gym in the 1980s. It was called The Wigan Hold. There were interviews with Ernie Riley, and Jack Dempsey on it. Another Wigan wrestler was Steve ( Buffalo ) Breheny in the 80s. Before the war there were two brothers billy and Ike Beech. There must be many more.

Replied: 8th Mar 2021 at 21:49

Posted by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

Hi Tonker. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) were both from Golborne; and the latter lived in Wigan for all of his retirement until his death.

Replied: 9th Mar 2021 at 10:56
Last edited by WiganWrestlingHistory: 9th Mar 2021 at 11:00:54

Posted by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

Cheers Tuddy, yes it's a great video - I re-watched it again recently. And thanks, yes many more names, I'm still building up my (increasingly long) short list.

Replied: 9th Mar 2021 at 10:58

Posted by: cindy (5972) 

Was there a lad named Francis Sullivan {Allan Latham}, also a lad named john Nayler. That Wrestled

Replied: 9th Mar 2021 at 15:54

Posted by: tonker (28076) 

Hi W.W.H., Yes, exactly. As I said, neither were from Wigan.!
They are, often, classified as being from Warrington.
But, no. They were Golborne lads!

P.S. You said, " the latter lived in Wigan for all of his retirement until his death." But he didn't.

Replied: 9th Mar 2021 at 21:41
Last edited by tonker: 9th Mar 2021 at 21:44:48

Posted by: surfer_tom (875)

Hello Billy beech was my grandfather and ike bullys brother my uncle ,they were both born in bidulph staffordshire moved to shevington both married at st Anne's Billy moved to scholes wigan and ike moved st helens ike is on the st helens R league hall of fame website .the beech family are also on sutton beauty website.

Replied: 10th Mar 2021 at 14:13

Posted by: mollie m (7250) 

The only Wigan wrestler I know for certain sure was Cliff Belshaw who lived in Beech Hill Avenue.

I know that because I was at school with his daughter Julie back in the 60s.

Replied: 13th Mar 2021 at 03:18

Posted by: Don GB (662)

All very interesting,

When I was a lad I spent many of my afterschool days at Riley's Gym.
I particularly remember Tommy (Moore), a nice chap who was very helpful and patient in teaching me the ins and outs, (not that I was very good). At the time I didn't realise what a big deal he was in the sport.

This will have been the early seventies and the place had seen better days. The shower, I think, was to the right as you went in and was uninviting, dark and grubby to a fussy kid. The weights etc were to the left with the mats taking up half of the building in front of you (or at least that is my foggy recollection).

Alan Latham I believe was in business with Ernie Riley (Monaco, Hindley and fruit machines in pubs and clubs) and moved house from Whelley to the old Estate Offices building near Haigh Hall.

Again, two great blokes I had the pleasure to know.

Don (previously 0 years).

Replied: 14th Mar 2021 at 14:13
Last edited by Don GB : 14th Mar 2021 at 14:23:26

Posted by: Brasstoff (493)

Hello WWH did you know a wrestler by the name of Joe Critchley he was on security at a place I once worked at. I think he said he owned or used to own a chippy on Gidlow Lane. His party piece trick was to get old telephone directories and rip them in two.

Replied: 14th Mar 2021 at 14:39

Posted by: broady (inactive)

There used to be a company that installed one arm bandits around the clubs called Riley & Sullivan. I think they had something to do with wrestling.

Replied: 14th Mar 2021 at 22:44

Posted by: cindy (5972) 

broady That would have been Francis Sullivan [Allan Latham] he lived in Top Lock at some stage.

Replied: 15th Mar 2021 at 12:33

Posted by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

Thanks for all the comments, really helpful. If you have any further information you would like to share then please let me know.

Replied: 18th Mar 2021 at 19:00

Posted by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

Tonker, I didn't come on here to argue, but is Golborne not part of Wigan? Also, please note that Dyamite Kid did live in Wigan; writes about it in his autobiography; other wrestlers visited him here and there are even pictures should you run a quick google search. Cheers.

Replied: 18th Mar 2021 at 19:02

Posted by: broady (inactive)

The Dynamite Kid’s Father Billy used to drink regularly in Abram LC. Tommy eventually moved to Calgary which is where I live.

Replied: 18th Mar 2021 at 22:19

Posted by: tonker (28076) 

"I am looking for any information on wrestling in the town, or wrestlers from the town of Wigan."

"information on wrestling in the town"

"wrestlers from the town of Wigan."

You asked for information relating to the 'town of Wigan'?
Well, I can only assume you aren't a local, as you'd know where the town of Wigan is, and isn't.

Golborne is not part of the town of Wigan. It is under Wigan council but is a considerable distance away fromWigan.

Platt Bridge, likewise, is not in the town of Wigan.

Dynamite Kid never lived in Wigan.

If you want information about wrestling in Wigan Council Area , you should have said so.
I'll bet there were a few wrestlers from Leigh, Astley, Tyldesley and Atherton. Those places are just as much 'in Wigan' as Golborne and Platt Bridge are, ie: not in Wigan at all, but they are under Wigan council.

You should visit Wigan sometime. It's great!

Fancy, that bloke living in Top Lock! Was he in a boat, stuck, like? or was he the lockkeeper?

Replied: 18th Mar 2021 at 22:46
Last edited by tonker: 18th Mar 2021 at 22:51:27

Posted by: tom cros (116) 


Replied: 27th Mar 2021 at 09:03

Posted by: cindy (5972) 

The Bloke [ Francis Sullivan] living in Top Lock Village lived over a shop on the corner of Leeds street, John Nayler lived in Withington lane [Jolley,s Row].

Replied: 27th Mar 2021 at 09:55

Posted by: JAMB (156)

My uncle (by marriage ) was Jimmy Hart he was born in Bryn 1924 but lived most of his life in Wigan they once had a grocery shop in the Prescot St. area . He was wrestling at the time it was popular on TV , he was usually the fall guy for such likes as Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus etc. but I cant think of his ring name will try to find out

Replied: 29th Mar 2021 at 19:33

Posted by: cindy (5972) 


Interesting If You copy the above link .

Replied: 31st Mar 2021 at 16:08
Last edited by cindy: 31st Mar 2021 at 16:09:48

Posted by: WiganWrestlingHistory (11)

Thanks for the comments, all noted.

Replied: 31st Mar 2021 at 19:17

Posted by: fairpaul (25)

As a boy I lived just across the road from Riley's Gym "at the bottom of Pyke Street" I started to train there when I was 16 ?
These are some of the people who were there at the time I was wrestling.
Show Wrestlers first:
Billy Joyce (Bob Robinson)
Tucker Moore / Jack Dempsey (Tommy Moore)
Roy Woods
Alan Woods
Billy Riley and his son Ernie Riley
Jack Cheers
An Irish Bloke who's name escapes me but he opened a 9 hole Golf course at Charnock Richard
others who wrestled there:
Tucker Moore's son son Mick Moore
Roy Evans (Wigan RL player)
Two most regular wrestling partners of mine were;
Ex Leigh RL hooker Frank Kirk
and Colin Rice - Skem
All fantastically talented people. Everyone was always made welcome. Billy Riley and the Pro Wrestlers were absolute gentlemen. I feel so privileged to have known them.
I can remember when I was at school that Sunday mornings seemed to be the day at Rileys Gym. One Sunday a wrestler I had seen on Tv parked outside our house, at the time they said he was from Bolton - I can't remember whether it was Billy Two Rivers or Massambula Pretty sure it was Billy Two Rivers.

Replied: 25th Apr 2021 at 17:19
Last edited by fairpaul: 5th May 2021 at 20:15:24

Posted by: DaveL (21)

Surprised to see the Snake Pit being mentioned in an article in today's GUARDIAN - old documents held by the club helped researchers establish that Louis Bruce - a tram driver from London - was the first black Olympian - having competed as a heavyweight wrestler in the 1908 London Olympics.

Replied: 28th Jan 2022 at 11:30

Posted by: Owd Codger (3206)

'Tucker Moore' was a great local character and at the time lived opposite me in Vine Street.

Another was Jimmy Rudd from Beech Hill who was a Wrestler in Silcocks Fairground Boxing/Wresting booth.

Allan Latham (Francis Sullivan), along with Ernie Riley had a Amusement machine business called Riley and Sullivan and he lived in the big house on Higher Lane in New Springs which he named Latham House.

The golded era days of Wrestling was in the late fifties/early sixties when it was on television and some of the top wrestlers along with those from Wigan were from Bolton like Lou Faulkner and his two sons Vic and Bert Royal, Keith Martinelli (Williamson). Other top wrestlers were from Yorkshire like Les Kellett and some were from London like Jacky Pallo, Mick McNanus and Steve Logan.

Replied: 31st Jan 2022 at 08:56
Last edited by Owd Codger: 31st Jan 2022 at 09:01:23

Posted by: tonker (28076) 

There’s some Wigan based wrestlers mentioned in HERE!

PS: including surfer-tom’s relatives (the Beech bros., mentioned up there^^^^^!

Replied: 31st Jan 2022 at 22:02
Last edited by tonker: 31st Jan 2022 at 22:15:23

Posted by: momac (12442) 

My Grandad was a wrestler in Silcocks wrestling booth..Thomas McGovern.

Replied: 1st Feb 2022 at 09:30

Posted by: momac (12442) 

Tom Cross,did you have a friend from Pemberton named Albert

Replied: 1st Feb 2022 at 10:34

Posted by: First Mate (2434)

Replied: 30th Oct 2023 at 16:59


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