From 1965 to 1985 British professional wrestling was the highlight of Saturday afternoon TV.

Huge men grappling received a 45-minute (less adverts) slot on ITV World of Sport, between 'proper' sports like football and racing.

It was a world away from the big budget, daredevil wrestling you see performed by the ripped stars of today's professional sport.

Huge, generally overweight men in cheap costumes and leotards performed a more limited, rudimentary repertoire of moves that by the mid-1980s had started to look rather silly.

But at the time the bouts, often filmed at The Dome, in Brighton, drew millions of viewers.

Wrestlers from Yorkshire accounted for the lion's share of the sport's stars including Big Daddy, Catweazle and silver screen star-to-be Brian Glover, aka Leon Arras.

Here's who they were and what happened to them after World of Sport finished in 1985.

Big Daddy

Shirley Crabtree (aka Big Daddy) in the gym in 1982

Growing up with the name Shirley Crabtree in 1930s Halifax must have been tough.

No wonder the ex-miner and Coldstream Guard took out his anger in the ring.

Despite a BMI of 43.3, he became an icon of the sport. He retired in 1993 to run a gym in Halifax, West Yorks, and died in 1997 aged 67.

His nephew is the Huddersfield Giants legend Eorl Crabtree.


Catweazle aka Gary Cooper

Doncaster-born Gary Cooper took on the TV wizard’s moniker and came up with many bizarre gimmicks, including licking a lucky toad between rounds. He died of cancer in 1990, aged 53.

Brian Glover

Actor Brian Glover who wrestled under the name Leon Arras

“You play to your strengths in this game and my strength is as a bald, rough-looking Yorkshireman,” he said. But as a wrestler, Glover was Leon Arras, The Man From Paris.

He later found fame as an actor on TV and in films such as Kes and Alien 3. The voice of the Tetley tea ads, the father-of-two died of a brain tumour in 1997, aged 63.

Harvey Smith

Harvey Smith in his wrestling days

Best known as a top showjumper who occasionally flicked a V-sign, Yorkshire’s finest, 78, also grappled in the 1970s. He even found time to release the single True Love in 1975 and still has stables in Bingley.

A version of this story first appeared in the Mirror .