Glaswegian wrestler Jim McKenzie inducted into Hall of Fame at City Chambers
SEVENTEEN years on from Jim McKenzie’s death, the Glaswegian wrestler joined his old sparring partner one last time after he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for Scotland.
On Friday the Lord Provost oversaw a ceremony at the City Chambers where McKenzie, a lightweight who was a titan of the UK wrestling scene in the 1960s, became the seventh man to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a plaque was awarded to his widow Helen, their daughter Gillian and Bill Ross, McKenzie’s old tag team-mate and occasional opponent.
“Jim McKenzie was possibly Glasgow’s finest ever wrestler,” said Hall of Fame founder Bradley Craig. “He was also one of the leading champions in the lightweight division in a time where lightweight stars from Scotland were the best in the world.
“The ‘Flying Scots’ of Bill Ross and Jim McKenzie were without question Scotland’s finest tag team. They were probably the greatest tag team of their generation.
“They had some fantastic battles up and down the country. Jim’s speed with Bill’s strength was a virtually unbeatable combination.”
When presented with McKenzie’s old belt, a teary-eyed Ross admitted seeing it once again “brought back a lot of memories”.
He then recalled one particular wrestling match that highlighted just how much of a force the ‘Flying Scots’ were back in their heyday.
“Jim was a very well-respected wrestler who had great speed and a great sense of humour,” Ross recalled. “As far as I was concerned, he was a great professional and a good friend, and we had many a hard tussle over the years!
“Because of the training I was doing, I was just that bit stronger than Jim all the time. I’ve always been strong in my legs, good at pushing. Quite often I’d feel boys out and then let Jim give them the runaround.
“This always stuck in my mind: we were wrestling a French tag team and I saw one the guys gesturing to his muscles and squeezing his hand – calling us soft, basically. Jim and I both clocked it.
“I said I’d go out first and push him around a bit. Well, two or three minutes in I picked up this guy, held him above my head and dropped him on the canvas. I tagged Jim, he rolled in and immediately pinned him.
“The promoter knew exactly what I was doing because I’d done this before. He was laughing and told me ‘those boys were supposed to be over for a two-month contract’. The guys ended up packing it in and going home!”
Gillian McKenzie, Jim’s daughter, wasn’t born by the time her dad had retired from the sport, and said she enjoyed learning about his status within the world of wrestling.
She said: “I’m very proud to have my dad’s career remembered decades after he retired from the ring.
“He was a great father, and it's really special for me to learn about the impact he made as a top wrestler in the years since his passing.”
Helen McKenzie, Jim’s widow, added: “My husband loved his days as a wrestler, which gave him some of the happiest times of his life, travelling across the country with many of the other stars of his generation.”