Belfast Telegraph

Meet the next generation of fighting Fit Finlays: Name synonymous with the golden age of wrestling

By Amanda Ferguson

The name is synonymous with the golden age of wrestling.

Former world champion David 'Fit' Finlay from Carrickfergus was one of the toughest competitors to apply a headlock in the wrestling ring - taking on the might of Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy and others.

Grapple fans will remember with affection spending their Saturday afternoons on the settee listening to the mid-Atlantic accent of ITV World Of Sport commentator Kent Walton and watching Finlay's impressive take downs, pins and holds.

Three generations of the family have made names for themselves in the wrestling world, with the youngest Finlay set to make his Northern Ireland debut this weekend.

Fit Finlay's father David Finlay snr told the Belfast Telegraph he was proud that his family had been involved in the wrestling game for so long.

"We started off in the Fifties and Sixties," he explained.

"And I brought Olympic-style wrestling to Northern Ireland as well.

"When my children came along they saw me wrestling and wanted to wrestle too, so I taught them the proper way."

Fit Finlay shot to fame in the 1980s and held over 20 championships around the world throughout his career, including the WCW World Television Championship and the WWE United States Championship.

"He was 14 and we were at a venue in Larne," his father went on.

"I was a man short so I said 'you need to go on here'. He stuck my boots on, they were miles too big for him, and that was his baptism.

"As soon as he went into the ring he said this was for him.

"He wrestled Big Daddy and Haystacks and gave them all a bad time, and he ended up world champion as well. Now he's a producer for WWE."

The youngest Finlay wrestler and current European Junior Champion will be taking part in The American Wrestling Roadshow at the Waterfront Hall on Saturday.

Competitors including Dunkan Disorderly (Grant Davison), Bonesaw McGraw (Alan Cunningham) and Bloodthirsty Corvin (Colin Jackson) will be in action in Belfast against US-based grapplers such as former WWE stars Drew McIntyre and Mason Ryan, as well as former TNA champion Magnus.

David snr's grandson - and Fit Finlay's son - also named David, says he is looking forward to taking to the ring in Belfast on Saturday night.

"I am the current European Junior Champion, I won it in Germany a month ago," he said.

"I intend to be the best, to be world champion.

"I grew up watching my dad wrestle who grew up watching his dad wrestle.

"It made me into the wrestler I am."

For tickets (£15) to The American Wrestling Roadshow contact the Waterfront.

The larger than life stars

  • The late Shirley Crabtree junior was an English wrestler better known as Big Daddy. He was famous for his record-breaking 64-inch chest and for wearing a variety of his trademark Big Daddy leotards.
  • The late Martin Austin Ruane was an Irish  wrestler known as Giant Haystacks. He was 6ft 11in  and at his heaviest weighed 48 stone 13lbs.
  • Peter William Thornley was an English wrestler known as Kendo Nagasaki, a ‘Samurai’ with a mysterious past and reputed powers of healing and hypnosis. He was one of the biggest draws in British wrestling from the 1970s to the 1990s.

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