AS a youngster watching two great hulks hurling, belly flopping and bouncing each other from one side of the ring to another I watched with concern that someone was going to be crushed or, at worst, killed.

Then I pondered whether they really were hurting each other? I came to the conclusion that they were actually firm friends behind the scenes and that thought, for me, made it all better.

The grown-ups around me in that cramped sitting room where we all tucked into our fish and chips were all having a great time. Simple pleasures.

Wrestling was real edge-of-the-seat entertainment with extravagant showmanship to boot. I recall the sportsmen strutting their stuff, playing to their audiences both ringside and gathered around the box at home during those battlesome bouts featuring popular fighters, the likes of Yorkshire’s Big Daddy, Shirley Crabtree of course who hailed from Halifax, and his sparring partner, Giant Haystacks.

The pair would be literally getting to grips with each other, and the audience? They loved every minute of it!

Yet, long before the giants of the ring were entertaining the crowds, wrestling already had a place in history.

It is said to be one of the oldest forms of combat with origins dating back thousands and thousands of years.

As a professional sport, wrestling really took off in the States during the 1920s. Television, and later cable, brought it into our homes and captured the attention of a far greater audience as its global popularity began to soar.

At one time it was said wrestling was watched by seven million viewers weekly and was apparently drawing in more viewers than the FA Cup Final.

Looking back through our archives, this selection of photographs, sourced by our nostalgia writer and researcher, Odele Ayres, is indicative of Bradford’s wrestling heyday with St George’s Hall and the Arndale Centre, now the Kirkgate shopping centre, among the venues hosting these popular events as our photo gallery shows.

We also get to meet the likes of Jim Breaks and Les Kellett who were among a ‘dynasty’ of Bradford wrestlers.

Norman Morrell also hailed from Bradford. He represented Britain in the sport in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and, as a promoter, was said to have been a shaping force in British post-war wrestling, instrumental in formulating the seven wrestling fighting weights and drawing up rules governing the sport.

And, now it seems, the sport’s popularity is soaring once again.....

On New Year’s Eve, ITV re-invented the popular World of Sport Wrestling programme with a two-hour special seen by nearly two million people.

Following the show’s success, ITV has commissioned a full 10-part series to air either later this year or early 2018. One of the stars of that event, and the forthcoming series, was Rampage Brown.

Born and raised in West Yorkshire, Rampage, real name Oliver Biney, will make a special one off return to the region for an in-ring appearance at Pudsey Civic Hall on Sunday June 11.

Interestingly, the venue is only a few miles from Brown’s former secondary school, Benton Park.

When Rampage Brown makes his return, he will be competing in a New Generation Wrestling (NGW) ring against the athletic, Justin ‘The Hammer’ Sysum. As a major part of NGW for over 5 years now, Brown held what was the most televised British wrestling championship for over a year.

He says he is looking forward to returning to his old stomping ground. “I want all West Yorkshire wrestling fans to head to Pudsey Civic Hall on Sunday June 11 so I can show them what the New Generation of Wrestling is all about.”

New Generation Wrestling (NGW) has been spearheading a resurgence of TV wrestling in the UK. With its British Wrestling Weekly programmes, it still holds the prestigious title of being the longest running British wrestling TV programme for nearly 30 years.

NGW recently announced the appointment of their new Executive Producer, ITV’s The Chase quiz master, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett who has been instrumental in bringing New Generation Wrestling back to Pudsey Civic Hall and securing Rampage Brown for the event.

Competing on the event alongside Rampage, will be another star of ITV World Of Sport Wrestling, El Ligero. NGW Undisputed Champion Matt Myers will also be on the show.

For more information visit or contact Pudsey Civic Hall.