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NZ Wrestling & Boxing with Dave Cameron:
My Top Ten New Zealand Born Wrestlers
1. Pat O'Connor
I have no hesitation in making this ranking. I saw Pat as a great amateur and he was an exceptionally talented professional wrestler. He won the World N.W.A. Heavyweight Crown in 1959 when he beat Dick Hutton, and lost the crown in 1961, when he lost to the colourful Buddy Rogers.
2. John Da Silva
Tremendous wrestler who worked all over the world. Well known in the East for his matches with Dara Singh, and known all over Europe. He wrestled before royalty in 1963 when he met Hungarian wrestler Tibor Szackacs at the Royal Albert Hall before H.R.H. Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. A master of every hold in the book.
3. Lofty Blomfield
Kiwi icon who made his name from the radio days of wrestling broadcasts. It was said every kid at school knew who Lofty was but didn't know who the Prime Minister of the day was. Very experienced but didn't have the great range of holds that Pat O'Connor or John DaSilva had. Master of the octopus clamp. Drew with Bronko Nagurski in late 30's in Vancouver, Canada, in a World Title match.
4. Steve Rickard
Travelled the world and was a top wrestler. Later became better known for his long running T.V. programme "On The Mat" where he brought to New Zealand top talent from around the world. The highly rated show sold to many Asian countries and was a huge success.
5. Al Hobman
Former "Mr New Zealand" body builder, Al went on to become one of our finest wrestlers, and was well known in the U.S.A. and around Asia. Was, with Steve Rickard our first heavyweight tag team New Zealand Champions.
6. Bruno Bekkar
Wrestled around the world and was big favourite in Singapore and Malaysia. Very experienced professional who held the commonwealth Belt on several occasions. Once joined Al Costello in Purto Rico to team up as the famous "Fabulous Kangaroo's." Master of every hold and always inventing new ones.
7. Ike Robin
Maori great and one of our first New Zealand Champions. Famous for his three matches with ex- world champ Stanislaus Zbyszko in Auckland Town Hall in 1926. Could have been a world beater, but preferred to stay in New Zealand and meet all-comers. A champion shearer, a lay preacher in the ministry, and a great wrestler, Ike lived just outside Hastings in Hawkes Bay.
8. Ernie "Kiwi" Kingston
Born in Banks Penninsular, near Christchurch, Ernie took off for Europe before the war ended and made his home there. He was a top-liner all over Europe and had many exciting matches with the great Bert Assirati. In Germany he rode his white horse right up to the ring, and was an expert horseman as well as champion wrestler. He applied the rocking chair splits hold, and this is the same hold that made Earl McCready famous in New Zealand.
9. Abe Jacobs
Although born in the Chatham Islands Abe settled in Christchurch with his Mum and became a New Zealand Champion amateur wrestler. He headed to the United States early on in his career and came home on occasions to work for Steve Rickard. He was a very successful professional wrestler in the States and won a World tag title.
10. Dick Hrstich
Wellington born, and Anton Koolman trained wrestler who went to the United States early in his career, and hit the big time. He changed his name to Ray Gordon as it was easier for the ring announcers. Later settled in Canada and died a few years back.