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|The 2010 World Cup in South Africa got me thinking about pro wrestling in that country. It seems as if only bits and pieces are known about that country's pro wrestling history, so I'd like to try and expand on what we do know.
- Did the country have a single promotion that covered the entire nation or did territories exist in the different parts of the nation?
- The European Wrestling Union name was attached to some titles, but it's hard to tell if that was the name of a promotion or just something tagged on to a title to make it appear more prestigious. A promotion entitled Bronco Universal Promotions and Interworld Wrestling Promotions also ran. Or was it the same thing? Can anyone say? Jan Wilkens has been called a promoter, but so has Sam Cohen, the father of Steve and Shaun Simpson. Sam wrestled as Alec Simpson. Were they partners, competitors, or different regional promoters? I saw another promoter's named Bull Hefer who wrestled under that gimmick. Jackie Koen promoted under the Ring Promotions name. How did all that tie together?
- Jan Wilkens appeared for Joint Promotions in the UK and the CWA in Austria. He also worked for New Japan in the early days of that promotion and Seiji Sakaguchi subsequently appeared in South Africa.
Other foreigners who worked in South Africa at one time or another included Don Leo Johnathan, Hulk Hogan, Blackjack Mulligan, Terry Funk, Bill Irwin, Black Bart, Rick Patterson, Gama Singh, Big John Studd, Pez Whatley, Kevin Wahcolz, Mark Calloway, Fabulous Lance (Von Erich) who ended up staying permanently, Hacksaw Higgins, Hercules Ayala, and Adrian Street. Haru Sonada (Magic Dragon) was en route to a wrestling tour in South Africa only for he and his wife to die when their plane crashed into the Indian Ocean while en route.
Domestic wrestlers included the likes of Jan Wilkens, the Simpson brothers, Danie Voges, Kalahari Boerboel, Peet Strydom, Hans Rooks, Danie Brits, John Powers (presumably not the North American of the same name), Hans Boosch, Jackie Koen, Shaun Koen, and others yet to be named.
Were there any domestic black wrestlers? Were black fans able to attend the cards? If so, did they attend in great numbers?
Were there more wrestlers from the UK or from Australia and New Zealand? South Africa's sporting links have traditionally been to those three countries via Rugby Union and Cricket.
Were Apartheid and the overall political situation of any concern to the pro wrestlers, particularly from the 1980s onwards? I remember being shocked on one hand that Pez Whatley toured there in 1988 and not shocked considering the death of the territories in North America and his desire to get well paying work.
- Did any of the promotions ever venture to Rhodesia prior to its 1980 transformation to Zimbabwe or to neighboring Angola or Mozambique prior to 1975 when they gained their independence from Portugal? What of South West Africa which South Africa controlled as a puppet state?
- South Africa did not begin television broadcasting until January of 1976, a very late date in comparison to most nations. The South African government saw TV as a corrupting influence and worried it would show the oppressed black population just how bad it had life in comparison to the white population, but eventually allowed TV broadcasting to occur. There was only a single channel until 1981 and the content was rigorously controlled.
On this basis, I assumed pro wrestling probably never had TV in South Africa and was shocked to find the match below on YouTube. It pits Steve Simpson, Danie Voges, and Kalahari Boerboel against Bill Irwin, Black Bart, and Rick Patterson. The program was called Worldwide Wrestling. However, the year given as 1989 is almost positively incorrect. 1988 is the more likely year. Does anyone know what promotion this was, the broadcasting network, and other details? The match itself was from Cape Town.
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Last edited on Tue Jul 6th, 2010 09:20 pm by tamalie