Wrestlers would receive friction burns, mostly on their elbows and knees which would take a long time to heal. That is why many would wear pads on these areas.
To get anywhere in wrestling, you had to be a good wrestler and then have a good gimmick. Unfortunately, some had good gimmicks but were rotten wrestlers. One promoter was talking about this and said if he could find a wrestler with two heads, he could make a fortune.
Most wrestlers did not have to train, wrestling six nights a week was enough to keep you fit.
The Wrestlers Reunion which is held every year in Kent started when Catweazle died. All the old wrestlers turned up from all over the country for his funeral, not having seen each other for years. It was decided then, that they should meet up every year.
A cocky young wrestler turned up in the dressing room to get ready for his first professional bout. He was not too happy about how much he was getting paid as he thought he was worth a lot more. He asked one of the old seasoned wrestlers to watch his bout and then tell him what he thought he was worth. The young lad went into the ring and when he returned to the dressing room, he asked the wrestler what he thought. At that, he handed him a piece of paper and said he had written what he thought he should be paid. The young lad opens it with delight, then turned the page over, saying there was nothing on the paper. 'Exactly' said the old hand, 'that is what you are worth'. The young wrestler was not as cocky now, but did go on to be very good.
I was in the dressing room in Canada, when in came one of the top names in wrestling in the world. He asked the lads if anyone had any toothpaste as he had run out. One of the boys puts his hand into his toilet bag, takes out a tube and squeezes a line on to the toothbrush. Off the wrestler goes to the sink to brush his teeth, but soon returns spitting the paste out of his mouth. 'My mouth has gone numb, what type of toothpaste is this ?' says the wrestler. The other guy shows him the tube and it said 'Haemorrhoid Cream' on the label. We all started laughing, which continued when one of the lads said ' I always knew he was talking out of his ass'.
A wrestling show where you could get to in less than an hour, was called an 'after tea job'.
Quite a few wrestlers wore ladies girdles instead of jock straps as they held you more firmly.
The best place to be on a wrestling bill was first. You could be well on your way home before the last bout had finished.
The wrestlers' favourite car in the 70's was a VW Beetle as it was so reliable. Several of the lads had one including Vic Faulkner and Mike Jordan.
Wrestlers would be paid expenses to get to a show. One wrestler would then phone round to find out who else was on the same bill, then they would travel together in one car. The driver got half of each persons expenses, sometimes earning as much for driving as they did for wrestling.
Drugs were never ever in the dressing rooms, or taken by wrestlers. However there was a phase when menthol snuff was passed around. This would help clear the head, and on long journeys home, would keep you awake at the wheel. But, two wrestlers were addicted to it and would go through a couple of tins a day each.
Wrestlers had their own language, a lot of which was taken from cockney slang. For example: 'a dodgy Gregory' was an injured neck. (Gregory Peck = neck).
The best paid job in the country was at The Royal Albert Hall in London. Better still if you were 'Top of the Bill'.
All wrestlers were self employed and no insurance company would insure them. If you were injured and could not wrestle, then you did not get any money.
In the 50's and 60's, wrestlers could work seven nights a week without leaving the outskirts of London.
A few wrestlers never learned to drive, but would always turn up for shows on time.
There was one wrestler who could not read or write, but somehow he found his way to shows anywhere in the country.
One wrestler would arrive at the show with his trunks under his trousers. His gown, was the jacket he was wearing. His boots were carried in a brown paper carrier bag along with a towel and a bar of soap.
Muhammad Ali, the worlds greatest boxer, got his idea about shouting his mouth off after watching a wrestling bout at Madison Square Garden.
Muhammad Ali and Antoni Anoki, a World Wrestling Champion, fought each other in a boxer v wrestler bout. The match ended in a draw as Ali never landed a punch and Anoki, never got a hold of him.
Amateur wrestling and professional wrestling are two completely different sports. A top class amateur wrestler coming into the professional ranks would be classed as 'A Shooter'.
In the 60's and early 70's, money would be thrown in to the ring by the crowd if they really enjoyed the bout. The ref would collect the money off the canvas and share it out between the two wrestlers.
Most wrestlers who have been in the business a long time will have some sort of lasting injury. Usually this will be their knees, backs, elbows or necks. Some of these guys are now crippled because of wrestling.
At it's peak, wrestling was in such demand, that there was not enough wrestlers to go round. So if two shows were within 30 miles of each other, you could wrestle twice, going on first on one show and then driving to the next show to go on last. You would sometimes pass the other wrestler who was going to the show you had just left.
Although wrestlers travelled thousands of miles a week, there were very few accidents. The only one I can recall is when a car caught fire and a couple were badly burned, but went on to make a full recovery.
The floor of a wrestling ring is just wooden boards covered with a thin layer of felt. This is there to take the sting out when a wrestler would hit it.
Dated: 31st July 2004.