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British wrestling champ dies

A Wigan wrestler who became a national sporting celebrity has died at the age of 87.

Thomas Moore – who wrestled under the professional name of Jack Dempsey – was among the country's top five wrestlers when the sport attracted millions of TV viewers.

Tommy became the British welterweight champion in 1957 when he beat another 'great', Mick McManus.

Tommy was proud of his Wigan roots. He was born in Newtown and began wrestling seriously after joining Riley's Gym in Scholes.

The gym turned out many talented fighters, but Tommy was better than the rest and his talent stood him in good stead when wrestling became popular on television.

His niece, Margaret Dickens, said: "He was a fantastic wrestler who gave delight and entertainment to so many fans.

"He was a real hero and wrestled all over the country.

"There was nobody to match him and he was a real celebrity."

When he won his world championship, Tommy was described by one sports writer as: "The perfect ruthless fighting machine."

He was the subject of a major TV documentary when he was 75.

Earlier in life, Tommy and his wife Theresa set up a shop at the end of Vine Street in Whelley.

Later, he had a number of jobs including one at Gullicks in Wigan. But the major focus in his life was wrestling.

After retiring from the ring, Tommy became a well-known local character and was rarely seen without his trademark bow tie, beret and King Edward cigar.

Over a pint, he entertained his audiences with a host of stories from the national wrestling world.

In his youth, Tommy had been an enthusiastic rugby league player and took part in the first competition for the Ken Gee Cup.

He had spent the last couple of years in Westwood Lodge Nursing Home in Poolstock, where he was regularly visited by his wife, son Michael and daughter Sheila and his grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held at noon on Monday at St Mary's RC Church in Standishgate, followed by burial in Gidlow Cemetery.

 
 
 

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