Tributes to wrestling legend
Friday 14th March 2014 10:42 Community Posted by Nigel Skinner

 

WRESTLING HERO: Billy Robinson.

WRESTLING HERO: Billy Robinson.

One of the greatest wrestlers of all time has died at the age of 75.

Ashton-born wrestling legend   Billy Robinson passed away peacefully at his home in Arkansas, USA, last Monday.

He was one of the first global superstars in the sport after moving to America with the American Wrestling Association in the 1970s.

But his move to superstardom only became reality after first becoming British National Champion and European Open Champion in the 1950s.

Robinson wrestled all over the world, from his debut in 1955 to his retirement in 1992 and held titles in far-out places such as Australia, Japan, Canada and Hawaii.

Another famous Ashton wrestler Ian McGregor, 47, who is now a wrestling promoter, said: “If it wasn’t for Billy Robinson, then I would never have been a wrestler, he was my all-time hero.

“He was such an inspiration to me that my whole life has been shaped from seeing just one of his fights.”

McGregor was 11 when he saw Robinson take to the stage in Belle Vue in 1978 as part of a UK tour.

“Many people don’t remember him, but what he did was open the door,” he said. “Wrestlers today can’t do the moves he used to do, so that’s why there have been so many tributes from around the world.

“My advice to anyone is always this, if you want to be a boxer then watch Muhammad Ali.

“If you want to be a wrestler, then watch Billy Robinson.”

Before America, Robinson learned ‘catch’ wrestling – a less entertainment-based form of the sport – at the infamous Snake Pit gym in Wigan.

Due to his amazing technical wrestling skills, he became a major headliner in Japan. In 1975, he challenged Antonio Inoki, the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Mr McGregor said: “Everybody involved in that particular type of wrestling knows his name and has learned something from him.”

Robinson’s younger cousin Jack, 73, who also turned professional in wrestling as a Lightweight, paid tribute to Billy by labelling him a “fanatic and a genius.”

“He used to eat, sleep and drink wrestling and that’s why the big promoters in the USA and Japan all wanted him to fight for the big bucks,” said Jack, who was born in Denton.

“Fighting ran in the family from both of our fathers, whether it was wrestling or boxing – from young boys we were always in the gym.”

Robinson leaves behind his son Spencer and a grandaughter, with Jack noting that a send-off for his much-loved cousin will happen back at home eventually.