Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Strongmen

Feats of strength in wrestling used to be a regular thing.

Whether it was Bruiser Bedlam hammering nails in with his bare hands, Danny Hodge crushing apples, Mighty Igor pulling buses, or Dino Bravo breaking world power lifting records ( with help from his "spotter" Jesse Ventura ), many wrestlers got their initial pushes, based on their incredible strength...

Ken Patera, Ted Arcidi, Bill Kazmier, Scott "Flash" Norton, Doug Furnas, Wayne Bloom, Mark Henry and Ivan Putski all spring to mind...




But the Brits had their own strong men too... What about Alan Dennison?!?

The "Strongman" nickname was appropriate for this Northern hardnut who resembled the Mighty Atom. Smaller than he appeared on television the biceps bulged and Dennison was always willing to use his strength to overcome opponents. After turning professional in 1958 Alan soon became a familiar face to the television fans For many years he was one of the great bad men of the ring, but like so many the character mellowed in later years. He could change his style to suit the occasion but always gave value for money. In the 1960s The Dennisons team of Alan and Syd Cooper antagonised fans, especially when matched against the blue-eyed teams like the Royal Brothers and the White Eagles. When Cooper moved South it could have been the end, but his place was admirably taken by "Hooker" Ted Heath, the perfect replacement. A gentle and kind man Alan’s place in the nation’s heart was demonstrated when his untimely death was announced on the national television news."Alan Dennison didn't smoke or drink. If anything, he had a hangup about staying young" said Max Crabtree. "The day he died he had a heavy workout, and I think he overtaxed his heart. He was wrestling at the Floral Hall, Southport, a hot night. After the fight I went into the dressing room to say hello, and he had his head bent down, I thought he was winded. I said "are you all right, Alan?", but sadly he'd gone into convulsions and was in the last stage of dying. I couldn't believe it - still had his arm bands on, all his gear. Shirley went to get the manager and the ambulance, but by the time they had arrived, poor Alan had a massive heart attack and died. I went to the hospital, and from behind the screen all I could see sticking out was a pair of wrestling boots. I thought, how ironic: one minute they were cheering their heads off for him, and there he was, lying dead". - from "The Wrestling" by Simon Garfield. Strong men... another great wrestling staple of the past, now long gone...

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