Ken Dunlop - Retired professional wrestler and businessman
(Part 1) - July 2017
Dunlop and Wayne 'Lofty' Pickford
Man continues to ramp up interviews with some of Australia's
and indeed the world's most interesting and talented
people in and around the entertainment and sports
business. Today we interview a gentleman who many
would consider a living legend of Australia's professional
wrestling. Hardcore wrestling fans already know him,
while casual fans may not. Today part of his story
goes worldwide via the internet and we can tell you
that his matches are well worth looking up.
Greg, l had a good chat with Peter Moses yesterday
for about 90 minutes about the old Jim Barnett days.
l saw a list on one of your profiles about Australian
no mention of Larry O'Dea and Ron Miller, Roy Heffernan,
Steve Rackman, Johnny Csom, George Zorbas, Bob Blassie
and Andy Harpis, Bob Blassie & Ken Dunlop &
Wayne Pickford and Jock Ruddick that pretty much covers
the 80"s and 90"s in Sydney. And l know
in Melbourne there were many small promotions, Dominic
Care, Sam Rossi, Kurt Schneider and many others.
there's too many promoters to list. We will have to
keep a tab on it and perhaps start ramping up with
promoters, as well as wrestlers, and other leading
entities in the sports and entertainment industry,
both in Australia and abroad.
did you develop your interest in professional wrestling?
l was about 4 years old Wrestling was like a religion
in our family we used to sit in front of the TV at
noon on Saturday and Sunday and watch the wrestling,
as we lived in the country Moe up in Gippsland, in
Victoria there wasn't anything live to see. WCW used
to come to Kernott Hall in Yallourn, in the next town
about once every two months and we used to go to those
shows. But when l was 10 we moved to Melbourne so
from Feb 1971 Mum and l started going to Festival
Hall every Saturday night after a few months l was
hooked , we had permanent seats booked and we went
to every show right up until the end of 1978 when
it finished. We also used to go occasionally to the
TV taping at Channel 9 in Richmond they used to tape
the show at 10.00 am and we would rush home to see
it on TV at noon. We met some great friends who were
also regulars. That was an amazing time of my life.
Ken Medlin and Johnny Gray were my two favorite Aussie's
and Bruiser Brodie and King Curtis were two of my
and when did you get your break in the business?
you go to Festival Hall every week you get to meet
some of the local wrestlers , we got to know Sam Rossi,
John Schneider and Fred Burger so we would say hi
got to know their families and it was Sam Rossi who
first asked me if l was interested in learning ,l
jumped at the chance and the following Monday l went
down to their gym MB'S Gym in North Melbourne, l was
16 and very shy, Sam Rossi and Casey Miller taught
me all the basics breakfalls and bridging, holds and
counetrholds, then on Thursday nights John Scneider
and Jim Dimeros and Fred Burger would give us bump
nights they would just throw us around for hours.
I was hooked, l loved it. Sam came over to see my
parents and promised them that he would teach me all
he knew. I got to train with Fat Dominic and Johnny
Doyle, there was also Rob Magris who started at the
same time as me, and a few other locals ( sorry can't
remember all their names) I trained there for 18 months
and it was a very exciting time. l got some great
friendships from those days, John Schneider (Denk)
became my best friend and even though John passed
away his family are still a very big part of my life,
l even gave his daughter Sharlene at her wedding about
7 years ago. I also went to train with Mario Milano
and George Guliovis for a few months and that was
also a great help.
was wrestling around Melbourne in the clubs and shopping
centres , l was also refereeing and as part of my
apprenticeship helping put the ring up and pull it
down after the show. Around Sep/Oct in 1979 Kid Hardy
took me to Sydney to do a show for Steve Rackman at
Revesby Workers, l did the show for nothing to me
it was like an audition, luckily Rackman liked me
and offered me lots of work if l moved to Sydney.
In December 1979 l packed up and moved here and I'm
still here. I only worked for Rackman for the first
9 months probably 5 shows a month then Mario Milano
came up for some shows and asked me why l wasn't working
for Larry O'Dea and Ron Miller and Roy Heffernan,
l thought l had to stay with just Rackman but Mario
gave me their phone numbers and l started working
for all of them which was sensational. I had a full
time job within a week of moving up here and l stayed
with my Grandparents in Darling Point for the first
few months and then got my own unit and l was away.
I really missed my family as we were all very close
and l used to drive down about 6 times a year for
the weekends. I started training at Doveys Gym in
Darlinghurst which was a great old fashioned gym,
there was Tony Hawkins, Doug Johnston, Andy Harpis
who would come and train with us then Roy Heffernan
would come down and we learnt so much more from Roy
than you could imagine. We trained at various Police
Boys Clubs as well , Paddington, Glebe, Rockdale,
Glebe. After a few years l started training guys.
in the clubs in Sydney was fantastic some Friday nights
you could be on 2 shows and on Sundays you could be
on 3 shows it was frantic. The death of El Grecco
killed the scene for quite some time. We lost alot
of clubs straight away.
some of the best advice, best people, and challenges
of the older guys were great and would offer lot's
of advice and Roy told me always listen to the advice
thank them and respect them and then do what you want
with the advice. There were 2 guys in particular who
hated any new talent coming in and they were George
Barnes and Bret Small, they would give us young guys
a real hard time they would beat the shit of us week
in week out, we just kept taking it and were getting
better all the time. Tough guy Vic Murray was also
a great help with good advice.
us about training wrestlers and how you also helped
out a few in other aspect of their lives?
started training guys myself at Doveys and l had some
great young come through l taught them the old way
- tough and hard l was always 100% honest with them
and taught them respect. Alot of these young guys
had family issues and became part of my family l was
always there for them quite often they would crash
at my place for the weekend and eventually l had to
rent a 4 bedroom house in Sans Souci and 3 of them
moved in. l tried my best to help guide them through
life and l am still in touch with most of these guys,
l have been to their weddings, become an uncle to
their children. l am very proud of that.
and why did you decide to come out as a gay man in
in coming out as Gay l never really came out it's
just who l am. l always told the young guys before
l trained them so they knew and no one had an issue
with it. There was only one other openly gay wrestler
the late John English on the wrestling scene. I'm
sure there were more but not out. It was never an
issue for me.
us about some of the injures you have sustained and
injury list will fill your story. Both knees, I've
had 12 operations on my knees finally have had them
both replaced. Had my right shoulder reconstructed
twice and my right shoulder done once. Had my right
ankle fixed up and a steel plate in my big toe on
the right foot, l can't bend it anymore. (Having the
same issue with my left ankle at the moment). Had
many fractured and cracked ribs over the years had
my lung punctured once from a cracked rib. The most
serious issue which could affect me as I'm getting
older is that l have had concussion at least 12 times.
My memory is shot, when I'm on a roll l can remember
things but the next day it's gone. I'm hopeless with
names but good with faces.
the biggest and smallest crowds you have performed
in front of?
smallest crowd l worked to about 12 people. It was
in Brisbane in 1988 it was an outdoor show on the
coldest night in Brisbane for over 20 years. There
was however about 80-100 in the clubhouse watching
but a fair way from the ring. The biggest crowd would
be around 6,000 people at Festival Hall in Melbourne
which was awesome, we also had about 4,000 in Adelaide
for the same tour.
the highlights of your career?
, it's hard to pinpoint one. Working against Ken Medlin
at Festival Hall in Melbourne with Jack Little as
compare, wow that was amazing, as a kid going to the
shows Ken Medlin and Johnny Gray were my favorites
and to wrestle Ken was as l said awesome. Also wrestling
Danny Boy Collins in England was fantastic. He was
easily the best worker there at that time and we had
an amazing match. Working with Wayne Lofty Pickford
as a tag team was incredible, you could never meet
a nicer man than Wayne. Also teaming with my younger
brother Alan who worked as Red Hot Ricky Diamond was
very emotional. I was so proud of him. I also wrestled
him a few times most fittingly my final match.
very proud that l became friends with people like
Jack Little, Roy Heffernan, Steve Rackman, Mario Milano,
John Schneider, Ken Medlin and so many more. Also
very proud of all the young men that l trained , Skyhawk,
Kiss, Thunderbolt, Mike Starr, David Hart, Ace Fenton,
Red Flair and again quite a few more.
here for part 2