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Town set for new bout of success.

Byline: Abby Alford

FORGET The Rock and ignore Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

British wrestling is back and hopes are high its revival will have a positive effect on Porthcawl.

It is around 15 years since grapple fans queued around the block to watch stars such as Big Daddy and Mick McManus in the ring for the summer season at the Grand Pavilion. But, provided Bridgend County Borough Council approves the licence application today, wrestling will be back on the bill on Monday and on August 16.

General manager Jan Adkins told the Echo the legendary Monday night shows of the 1970s and '80s were a huge draw for tourists, especially those staying at Trecco Baycaravan park. But she said that after the show night was moved to a Friday, audience figures plummeted.

``Friday was the change over day at Trecco Bay, so people didn't bother to come. Plus the popularity of British wrestling was falling generally.''

During the 1990s the high glitz and glamour of the American World Wrestling Federation (WWF) became popular, with matches star-ring The Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan being shown on satellite TV. However, a tribute night at the Grand Pavilion failed to sell out and Jan hopes a return to wrestling of the more traditional variety will prove popular.

Porthcawl's Mayor Evan Williams told the Echo: ``I am all in favour of it. Anything that makes a positive contribution to the town should be welcomed.''

The show is to be staged by The Wrestling Alliance, which has both male and female stars, including the 6ft 2in Wildcat from Liverpool, aka Rob Brookside, and the larger than life Klondyke Kate, aka Hell in Boots.

SHIRLEY WAS THE DADDY OF AFTERNOON TV

AT one time Saturday afternoon wrestling on ITV drew millions of viewers keen to see the bad tempered Giant Haystacks battle out with everyone's favourite, Big Daddy. And it was claimed legendary crooner Frank Sinatra and the Duke of Edinburgh were among the show's biggest fans. Big Daddy, whose real name was Shirley Crabtree, was born in Halifax in 1930 and began playing rugby. But after being sent off for violent conduct he turned his hand to wrestling. In 1987 he retired after Mal ``King Kong'' Kirk died after one of their bouts. He was cleared of blame, but felt responsible. He died of a stroke in 1997.

CAPTION(S):

HIT STARS Porthcawl is hoping for a return to British wrestling's glory days, when Mick McManus, right in main picture, and Big Daddy, below, would attract thousands of people.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 9, 2002
Words:423
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