Tributes as legendary Doncaster wrestling champion dies

Doncaster wrestler Rocky Wall.
Doncaster wrestler Rocky Wall.
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Tributes have been paid following the death of a world-renowned champion wrestler from Doncaster who fought across the globe.

Former British heavyweight champion Albert "Rocky" Wall died on New Year's Eve at the age of 81.

The fighter fought across the globe.

The fighter fought across the globe.

Mr Wall was one of the biggest stars of the sport in the 1960s and 70s and was known across the world as the "Doncaster Panther," grappling in countries as diverse as Japan, Kuwait and Germany and was renowned for his trademark flying head-butt.

Born in 1936, Mr Wall made his name locally in Doncaster, overcoming rheumatic fever before emerging onto the national and worldwide stage, fighting some of the sport's biggest names during his career.

Son Gary said: "Dad trained in the gym above a pub in Bentley close to home and was taught the very basics of wrestling by Johnny King.

"After a spell in the judo ring he started training with the very heavyweights to get as big as possible in the muscle department because of his big frame. Agility and fleet of foot were never going to be his thing."

Rocky was a former British heavyweight champion.

Rocky was a former British heavyweight champion.

"As soon as he felt competent enough he launched straight into the professional heavyweight scene."

Online wrestling website Wrestling Heritage said: "Skill, ruggedness, tenacity and courage were his hallmarks.

"Watching him enter the ring was not an overly exciting event because the dour Yorkshirman's style had nothing to do with grand entrances, flashy outfits or fashionable gimmicks. He was simply a plain, powerful heavyweight technician at its finest; a man who who reached the top of his profession in a quiet, dignified way."

He had been a pro-wrestler since 1957 and claimed his first UK title in 1966, claming the British Heavyweight title and also beating famed masked wrestler Kendo Nagasaki in the day's before the latter's pre television days.

Rocky Wall in action.

Rocky Wall in action.

However, his joy at beating Billy Joyce in Glasgow to claim the crown was short-lived, holding onto the title for just one month.

After defeating Steve Viedor in an open tournament in April 1970 he held on to the Championship for a 9-month period, before once again relinquishing honours to Gwyn Davies.

But soon after Albert's main and uninterrupted stint as heavyweight champion began and formed the defining period of activity for which he is best remembered.

He also appeared regularly on ITV's famous Saturday wrestling shows - and in 1971 made 12 appearances alone before stepping down and out of the ring in the mid 1970s.

Wrestling fans have paid tribute online.

Posting on the Wrestling Heritage forum, Frank Thomas wrote: "Fond memories of Rocky in live action at Liverpool Stadium.. A wrestler and gentleman in the best tradition. My hero! Deepest sympathy to the family, RIP champ."

Graham Bawden added: "Sad loss to the wrestling world. RIP Albert Rocky Wall," while Philip Kenyon posted: "Another great has left the ring for good. What a sad 2017 this has been. My condolences to the family."

Paul Kaye wrote: "RIP Albert - another wrestling legend gone to the great ring in the sky."

Dave Sutherland posted: A favourite of mine if ever there was one and a man that personified everything great about the Golden Age of Wrestling.

"His bouts against Billy Joyce at Newcastle were legendary and on one occasion the top of the bill was altered to accommodate a return match the following Saturday!

"Any match that bore his name was a guarantee of quality wrestling be it against an equally skillfull opponent or some rule bending villain who needed putting in his place.

"Albert was the man for each occasion. Later when I moved to Nottingham and occasionally travelled by bus from the North East I used to look out for his transport cafe on the outskirts of Doncaster which bore his name. RIP Albert."

Mr Wall leaves three sons - Gary, David and Russell.

The funeral will take place on January 22 at Rose Hill Crematorium at 11.40am followed aftewards at Wheatley Golf Club, Armthorpe Road.