Of course, these two gentleman wrestled decades ago, during the Golden Age of pro wrestling in the UK.
Coming from the carnivals and onto the TV screen, The Wrestling was one of Great Britain’s favorite sports for over three decades.
From 1965 to 1985, World of Sport broadcast the wrestling every saturday afternoon at 4pm. This joined a host of other sports shown throughout the day, but it was the wrestling that became must-see TV every week.
With the half-day still into effect on Saturdays in the UK at this time, men would rush home from the pits to watch the wrestling on ITV every saturday, seeing big stars like Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki and Giant Haystacks.
This was some of the most popular times in the history of wrestling in Britain, and the industry was decimated following ITV’s removal of the program in 1985.
However, two years before World of Sport hit the screens, a match between Jackie Polo and Mick McManus drew one of the biggest TV audiences in British history.
Mick McManus vs Jackie Pallo
In 1962, the first contest between Mick McManus and Jackie Pallo drew one of the largest television audiences of all time.
This was the first contest between the two fierce rivals, at the beginning of one of the most legendary rivalries in British wrestling history.
Former wrestler Frank Rimer claimed that the match drew over 20 million TV viewers in 1962 – close to half the population of England at the time.
“Mick McManus was a national icon and the biggest wrestling name that the UK has ever had or will have again, appearing on ITV more times than any other wrestler.” Rimer claimed.
“In 1962 his feud with the great Jackie Pallo drew over 20 million viewers.”
The event also sold out Wembley Arena, the 12,500 arena in London that WWE recently sold out with their Money in the Bank pay per view.
Actual details about the TV figures are hazy, and we have to take Rimer’s word on it – however, the match (and rivalry) between McManus and Polo began the Golden Age of pro wrestling in the UK, mixing sport and entertainment in a way it never had before.
McManus and Polo were characters as well as athletes. Their rivalry brought the fans in droves, using their real-life rivalry to craft a story to interest fans all over the country.
This evolved into the world of “Sports Entertainment” we know today, and a brand-new form of Professional Wrestling unlike any ever seen before.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.