Tag Archives: wrestling

From top: ad in The Evening Herald, October 16, 1932; Eoin O’Duffy; coverage in The Sunday Independent, October 11 1932

All-in wrestling comes to Ireland.

Thanks Blueshirts.

‘The Masked Contributor’ writes:

It was 87 years ago yesterday, November 19 1932, that the first ever professional wrestling event took place in Ireland.

While grappling sports like wrestling have long existed here, by the 1930s they had fallen out of fashion. There were attempts at reviving the sport at the beginning of the 20th century but these failed.

Interestingly, the Irish wrestling technique ‘collar and elbow’ was one of the styles incorporated into what became professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling, or ‘all-in’ wrestling as it was then called in Ireland, emerged in the post-Civil War period in America and was typically a touring attraction like a circus.

Wrestling was then introduced into Britain by American migrants at the end of the 1920s and it then reached Irish shores thanks to the controversial Irish figure General Eoin O’Duffy, and the Australian restaurateur and promoter, William Willis.

In the 1930s, General O’Duffy was involved in a campaign to revive athletics and other sports in Ireland, including various forms of wrestling.

Part of his strategy involved holding public events to help clear the debt of the National Athletic and Cycling Association (NACA) and to prepare athletes for upcoming Olympic games.

In early November 1932, it was reported in the [Evening Herald] that the NACA had approached William Willis about promoting wrestling events.

William Willis was born in Australia, although his parents were from Cork and Limerick. During his life, Willis, once a wrestler himself, served in the Australian Army and had played rugby for e London Irish before moving to Dublin.

When approached to promote wrestling it was reported that Willis would provide one night of the proceeds to the NACA and that in March 1933 there would be a tour across Ireland in which 50 percent of the profits from events would go to the NACA.

Shortly after being approached, Wills promoted Ireland’s first-ever wrestling event at the Portobello Barracks (now Cathal Brugha Barracks) in Rathmines, Dublin 6 on November 19 1932.

The card featured talent from England, Germany, Poland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. These wrestlers were based, and wrestling regularly, in England, before traveling to Ireland. Likewise, numerous Irish wrestlers went to England to wrestle in its burgeoning industry, while others ventured to America.

The event was covered in depth by numerous newspapers with headlines such as ‘Wrestling Thrills: Dublin has first taste of the sport‘ appearing in The Irish Press.

These articles detailed the rules and types of bouts featured in ‘all-in’ wrestling and the wrestlers involved. No attendance figure was provided but it was reported a large crowd was at the event.

At the time, and for a few more years at least, wrestling was still regarded as legitimate. Results were carried in the sports section of newspapers, and footage of bouts was shown on newsreels in cinemas.

However, a series of exposés in America and Ireland in the 1930s revealed the pre-determined nature of wrestling and damaged its popularity.

Two days after its debut another night of wrestling took place, this time at the ‘Rotunda Gardens’ in Dublin.

Again, Willis was the promoter and the card featured the same wrestlers from the first one, but also a man from Skerries named Jack Carroll.

Two more events occurred over the following days at the Rotunda while a final planned event was cancelled, seemingly due to dwindling interest.

Despite the cancellation Willis told reporters this wasn’t the end of wrestling in Ireland, and it wasn’t. Willis continued to promote wrestling throughout the 1930s until a libel case damaged his business. More on that in the future.

Another promoter, Gerard Egan, also ran wrestling events during this period. While wrestling didn’t take off here, within three years an Irishman, Danno O’Mahony, was one of the biggest names in America. More on him in the future.

These days promotions like Over The Top Wrestling and Phoenix Wrestling are among those promoting events for Irish fans.

Meanwhile, Becky Lynch, Sheamus and Finn Balor, have followed the likes of Danno and earned money and fame in America.

All three found heir feet in the Irish wrestling scene before having success with the WWE.

The future is bright for Irish wrestling and its history fascinating.

To be continued.

The Masked Contributor is currently researching the history of wrestling in Ireland and you can see more content on the Irish Wrestling History Facebook page.

The Irish-made alphabet of wrestling.

Alan Ruane writes:

I am a graphic designer, illustrator and wrestler living in Dublin. I have recently finished  “The Alphabet of Wrestling” that may be of interest to Broadsheet

The Alphabet of Wrestling was a project I released weekly on social media, primarily Instagram, and features 26 illustrations of performers currently active in wrestling, it features wrestlers from all over the world and from all levels of fame in the wrestling business.

This project combines two of my passions, illustration and wrestling. Wrestling is a visual industry and I feel the larger than life characters really lend themselves to big, bright and vibrant caricatures….

Real sporting giants.


Purchase for a tenner here

Alan Ruane

Irish-made stuff to Broadsheet@broadsheet.ie marked ‘Irish-Made Stuff’. NO FEE!


He’s big, he’s bad, he’s from Belfast, and the video above is decidedly NSFW.

Damian Mackle, a.k.a. Big Damo, is the latest Irish professional wrestler to sign with American sports-entertainment troupe WWE.

He joins Bray man Fergal Devitt (Finn Balor) and Dubs Stephen Farrelly (Sheamus) & Rebecca Quin (Becky Lynch) on the roster of the former WWF, the world’s largest touring wrestling show, which continues to rake in hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.

He’s just reported to their Performance Centre in Florida to train ahead of his US debut.

Seems like a nice guy, in fairness.

Big Damo on Twitter


Invasion of the Bodyslams – promoted by Over the Top Wrestling –  brings a troupe of sports-entertainers, comedians and sundry Father Ted characters reprising their former roles to the Galway Comedy Carnival later this month.

Joining the roster will be comedy turn du jour Al Porter, the Rubberbandits, WWE legend Sean (1-2-3 Kid/X-Pac) Waltman and Pro Wrestling NOAH star Chris Hero.

Invasion of the Body Slams, 11pm, October 30th at the Black Box



Today would have been the ninety-ninth birthday of Mexican pop-culture icon El Santo, and the world is celebrating, from pro wrestling nerds to the Google Doodle.

Debuting in the mid-1930s, pro-wrestler Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta knew his in-ring exploits needed the sizzle to match the beefcake.

Upon joining a group of silver-clad wrestlers in 1942, donned a mask and underwent his transformation to El Santo, a honest, fair-minded and upstanding technico that stood face-to-face against the nefarious rudos.

Over the following five decades, El Santo would thrill Mexico’s working class and poor, with tales of derring-do that would transcend the ring: his wildly popular comic book ran throughout Mexico for 35 years, only ending four years after his passing, and he would star in a long-running series (52 in all) of B-movies that would come to define the genre known as Lucha Horror.

It might be strange for those of us looking from outside that spectrum of pop-culture tropes, but his pre-Internet ubiquity was such, and his good-guy character’s virtues so simple, that he was able to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and be held in regard to this day as a real-life superhero.

Perhaps even more impressive was his adherence to kayfabe, the unwritten rule of protection of pro-wrestling continuity.

From the day he donned the mask, until a week before his passing, Santo was never identified unmasked in public, usually travelling separately from the rest of his promotion, and waiting hours to revert to his civilian identity, so as not to arouse suspicion of being one of the troupe.

He would even wear a custom version of his mask, adapted for eating, when dining publicly.

Santo retired in September of 1982, a week shy of his 65th birthday, after winning his final match, a chaotic four-on-four brawl where he teamed up with lifelong tag-team partner Gory Guerrero, as well as fellow legends El Solitario and Huracán Ramirez.

January 1984 saw El Santo appear on Mexican talk show Contrapunto to discuss life after retirement, and without warning, unmasked, as if bidding goodbye to the public.

He passed away the following week of a heart attack while on-stage at a play, and his funeral was considered one of the largest in Mexican history.

He is succeeded today by ten kids, including his son, El Hijo del Santo, and his grandchildren, among whom are El Santo Jr. and El Nieto del Santo.

Santo and Friends fansite


Irish wrestler Becky Lynch

More scenes of Irish success from the world of sports-entertainment last night.

Dubliner Rebecca Quin, formerly of independent promotions NWA Ireland, One Pro Wrestling, Queens of Chaos and more, was of one European wrestling’s brightest prospects before a head injury sustained during a match in Germany necessitated a long hiatus, including missing major independent shows in the US.

Returning to the States in 2011, as an on-screen manager for Shimmer Women’s Wrestling, Quin signed with industry leaders WWE in 2013, becoming Becky Lynch in the process.

After a questionably Oirish on-screen debut for their NXT brand, Lynch settled into the brand’s nascent women’s division, becoming one of its mainstays and embracing her own sci-fi/fantasy fandom in the process.

Heading to the WWE’s main roster in 2015, Lynch has been a massive part of the company’s Ronda Rousey-inspired push for women’s pro wrestling and, in the wake of WWE’s on-screen roster split, has settled into the top women’s role on the SmackDown brand.

Last night, at WWE’s Backlash event in Richmond, Virginia, Lynch won a six-woman elimination-rules match to become the SmackDown roster’s inaugural women’s kingpin.

Chants of “you deserve it!” greeted Lynch’s in-ring celebrations from the thousands in attendance.

Meanwhile, later that evening…



Becky Lynch

Previously: Irish Wrestling on Broadsheet


Irish wrestler Fergal Devitt

Last we saw of intrepid pro-wrestling globetrotter Fergal Devitt, the Bray, County Wicklow man had signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (that’s the ex-WWF to the ’80s childer).

Debuting with its Florida-based NXT brand/division/etc., Fergal capitalised on his reputation from grappling exploits in Japan (where he was the subject of an RTÉ documentary), Mexico and Europe.

He become NXT’s biggest star as it began taking off, with touring and merchandise for WWE’s alternative product swelling around his arrival and championship reign…


…as Finn Balór (above), mild-mannered veteran by day, body-painted manimal on fight night.

So it seemed like the dream coming true for 35-year-old Fergal when he was finally called up to WWE’s main roster after nearly two years.

The creation of a new top championship for WWE’s Raw brand created an opportunity for Devitt to oppose storyline corporate golden-boy Seth Rollins at WWE Summerslam last month for the newly-minted WWE Universal Championship.

Customary ridiculousness of the title’s moniker aside, it placed Devitt right at the centre of the action.

Until this happened…

In the course of some scuffling on the floor of the Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn, New York, Devitt went full-force into the guard rail surrounding the ring.

He not only separated his shoulder, but popped it back into place on camera, before proceeding to finish the match, becoming the champion of the world before 17,000 rabid fans in the process.

After finishing the morning’s media appearances, Devitt got his shoulder checked out, and with a career’s damage taking its toll, WWE doctors told him he’d need immediate surgery and 3-4 months’ recovery time.

Fergal had been champion for less than twenty-four hours before relinquishing the belt, after a sixteen-year career.

What’s left of a story to tell?

Why, the Rocky comeback, of course, and WWE are already all over it, generating sympathy and support in anticipation of his return bout and inevitable rematch with Rollins, showing footage of his surgery and day one of his physical therapy.



Previously: Fergal Devitt on Broadsheet


Prince Devitt.

He’s the Co-Wicklow born monarch of menace.And he’s going to marry Katie.

Fearsome New Japan Pro Wrestling junior heavyweight champion Prince (Fergal) Devitt takes on the the much-fancied Okada on Friday.

This is the big one and might prompt the IOC to inlcude the sport for Rio 2016.

Please be careful, Prince. Not the face!

Contains; trash talk

Thanks Rovert