Kent Walton nominates eight young wrestlers with star potential. 'If I've missed your particular favourite,' he says, 'well, let's hope World of Sport produces another book real soon.' Meanwhile, follow Walton's 'ITV Eight' and check his forecasts.
It is not easy to persuade this handsome heavy- weight to talk about himself. Six foot two, fourteen stone twelve, John is from Chatham in Kent.
I was impressed when he first appeared on television just over a year ago, and later he has developed to such an extent that his ambition to take Mike Marino's mid-heavyweight title is no longer a distant hope. His professional experience includes tours in Europe, Beirut, Kuwait, Trinidad and India, where he drew with that great Indian champion, Dara Singh. Quite an achievement in itself. Purist grapple fans 'will agree when I say: 'Here is a heavyweight star of the future'.
From Peckham, Steve only had a couple of years as an amateur before turning part-time pro in 1970. His father, the well-known Fred Stein, was a speedy lightweight boxer, and without doubt it was Fred who helped the young Steve become an equally fast lightweight wrestler.
Steve served his apprenticeship as a carpenter and cabinet-maker, and in between his ring appointments works at a government training centre, teaching handicrafts to the elderly and disabled.
His ambition is a crack at world champion George Kidd, title bout or not! Now if the opinion of top lightweight Jon Cortez is anything to go by- and it sure is-Steve could soon get his wish. That bout I've got to see!
Marty joined the amateur ranks at seven years old, became a British finalist at ten-and even then it took a sixteen-year-old to beat him! Having picked up seven different titles, he turned pro at the ripe old age of seventeen. Quite a record. One thing for sure, Marty is on the way to a professional title sooner or later, and if he stays in the middleweight bracket, it could be sooner.
He started in his home town of Manchester under the one and only Billy Robinson. In some ways he reminds me of a young Billy-fast, clever, afraid of nothing. What is more, Marty seems to improve each time I watch him.
This man, one of the most athletic figures in the professional ring today, hails from Antigua, West Indies. The moment he arrived in England as a young boy, he took up physical culture.
Cass, as he is known in the game, joined the well-known Rising Hill Amateur Wrestling Club and was soon enjoying an exceptionally impressive amateur career. This reached its high point at the Olympic Games in Mexico, where he was 'stand-by' at his weight.
His amateur titles were numerous, and it is a safe bet that he is on his way to collecting at least one belt as a professional.
A middleweight product of Billy Riley's famous Wigan gymnasium, John Naylor wrestled for several years as an amateur before turning part- time professional in 1970. That's when his troubles started. His business commitments prevented him wrestling during the week, and despite strong recommendations from many quarters the promoters seemed unwilling to book him for Saturday evening fights.
John's 'break' finally came when a substitute was required at the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris. He fought former world champion Rene Ben Chemoul, and was defeated by two straight falls. His opponent was so impressed, however, that he persuaded Joint Promotions to book the lad over here.
All true. connoisseurs of free-style wrestling are now saying 'Thank you' to the French middle- weight champion-for John Naylor is here to stay.
Jackie Pallo, Jnr
Jackie was trained by his famous father from the age of seven. Even prior to his first professional bout, in June 1971, he spent a solid year learning the hard way. His Dad concentrated on finding him some tough opposition, feeling that if the lad couldn't take the knocks, it would at least be in private rather than in front of a wrestling crowd.
J.J., as people in the business call him, spent a year as dresser to Brian Rix, and followed that up with a couple of pantomime appearances along with Senior. He was always determined to prove his critics wrong when they suggested he would trade on his father's name for a time and then fizzle out. But from what we've seen of J.J., the fans will agree that he has already proved himself over and over.
Son of the famous Manchester heavyweight Jim Hussey, Mark Rocco turned pro in 1970, and has quickly become one of the slickest movers in the heavy-middleweights. Because of his success in the ring, he has been forced to curtail his appearances in the show-jumping arenas.
A great rider, Mark has owned and jumped his own horses regularly all over the country, and has appeared at the 'Horse of the Year' show. His first love is the square ring, however, and he would be the first to agree that there he owes his skill to his father's training. Now grapple fans all over Europe thrill as he executes the lightning moves that have rapidly established him as a wrestler with some- thing special.
When a young, rugged, good-looking would-be grappler has the European welterweight champion Alan Colbeck for a cousin, he only has to watch, listen and learn and he could be on the way to making his own impression on the game. Ray Steele, from Tingley, Yorkshire, did all three. He was really put through it before turning professional, with an intensive six-month training course. And Ray will tell you that, despite a couple of successful years in the amateur ranks, he now has his cousin Alan to thank for his excellent pro record.
He goes flat out to win at any price, and some- times the fans think he gets a little too rough. But when a man has received the injuries that Ray has, he can hardly be blamed for it. One thing for sure - Ray Steele is headed for the big time.
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