The wrestling I enjoyed watching wasn’t the muscle-pumping, body-oiled, testosterone-fuelled entertainment industry of today. Mine came from a gentler time, although it bore many of the hallmarks of stage management that you see today.
It was in the 1960s when I was in my early teens and Saturday afternoon was spent with my nan watching ITV’s World of Sport on her black and white tv and the highlight for her was the wrestling from 4pm.
And that is where the letter K comes in. For a start, there was the regular commentator, Kent Walton, shown above. Many people thought he was Canadian because of his transatlantic accent, but in fact, he was born in Cairo, the son of the finance minister of the colonial government.
Kent first became a wrestling commentator in 1955 and kept the job for 33 years. He was also a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg and was the producer of several sexploitation films in the early 1970s, as revealed by the Man Alive documentary programme. That’s a poster for one of them on the right.
And if the commentator is one of my Ks, then so are many of the wrestlers themselves. Men like Johnny Kidd, Malcolm Kirk, George Kidd and Kendo Nagasaki.
But my nan’s favourite, and mine, was Yorkshireman, Les Kellett (left). He didn’t exactly look like the athletic type and spent a lot of time in the ring acting the fool, but he was highly regarded by his fellow professionals.
Kellett began his wrestling career in Manchester after being leaving the merchant navy and his antics made him very popular, particularly when he pretended to be punch-drunk and about to keel over just before turning the tables on his opponent.
He trained others to wrestle, including famous names such as Jimmy Savile and Harvey Smith. Kellett was also nominated for the Sports Personality of the Year award in the 1960s.
Fans of the ‘grappling game’ included the Queen, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and Margaret Thatcher, but not Greg Dyke, then Head of Sport at ITV. He axed coverage of wrestling in 1988 and it hasn’t returned.
For those of you who enjoy your nostalgia, below is a film of a bout between Les Kellett and Johnny Czeslaw with Kent Walton commentating.