Monday, 6 December 2010

Wrestling: The Righteous Brothers (2)

John Cox

Patriotism was far more appealing. Big John Cox, the ex-ambulance driver from York, Angela Carter tells us, had memorised thirty six of Churchill’s speeches. She had read this in Mick McManus’s The Mick McManus Wrestling Book (another item missed by Michael R. Ball). There had been an American a few years before, a vast twenty stone man. He had been told to generate some heat on his debut at the Wythenshawe Hall in Manchester, and his idea of doing so was to introduce himself as an ex-soldier, which indeed he was. He had fought with our boys in the war. This got a big cheer. Up on the beaches. Another cheer. He waited for it to die down. And they were the biggest lot of dirty cowards he had ever seen, he added. The audience rose to its feet and wanted to murder him. It was never the same afterwards. He went about in fear of his life. He and his tiny wife scrambled about the country in a filthy caravan. She was never heard to say a word to him, but he was under her tiny thumb, or so they say. After a year he returned to America.

Mick McManus

The Righteous Brothers were mediocre wrestlers. Fowler worked hard to get them bookings, but their only regular bouts came in the South West. It was respectable Liberal country with a transient population of bohemians who were attracted to the idea of seeing Che and Ho’s namesakes in the ring. Ho and Che were rarely allowed to win in any case, so Fowler milked them for sympathy (One Day They Will Rise and Finally Break Their Chains). The odd excursion to London, to Croydon or Hackney, brought out the SWP crowd and a few journalists. They did once feature in a photograph in the Mirror, linked to another story, but that was as far as it went. The hard core was a small following in Plymouth and Bude.

The Righteous Brothers worked three summer seasons and the occasional winter gig, but it was disheartening for them. One day in 1976 they had a call from a wrestler acquaintance in the USA suggesting a visit. The American promoter was definitely interested. So Che and Ho left Fowler behind and got a flight out. Their movements became ever more difficult to trace. One day, after a card in Alabama, they were cornered in a bar by a group of drunks. Having drunk a fair amount themselves they took some punishment. They drove off into the dusk, missed their road - someone remembers being asked for directions - and must have got lost in a swamp. The car was dragged up later but they weren’t in it. They had simply disappeared.

The real Ho died soon afterwards. Fowler did once attempt to trace The Righteous Brothers. He found himself in front of a vacant lot where another bunch of drunks were hanging about. He was drunk too. A scorpion scuttled by in the gutter. The revolution eats its children. He turned round and came home.



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