Name: Billy Robinson
Year Inducted: 2011

Billy Robinson

Throughout his career, Billy Robinson gained the respect of his wrestling peers. ”One in particular stood above them all in his prowess on the mat, a big man from Britain named Billy Robinson,” wrote Jack Brisco in his autobiography. “Billy’s reputation was universal.” Originally from Manchester, England, Robinson started wrestling as a youngster and made his way to Wigan to the Snake Pit, to train under Billy Riley for eight long years, with a dash of know-how thrown in from Bert Assirati. He was considered the best wrestler in Europe during the 1960s and made his North American debut in Calgary in 1969, vacating the European and British Heavyweight titles that he had held simultaneously for three years. In 1971, he came to the AWA and displayed his vast arsenal of suplexes for a bigger audience. Robinson was always challenging for the AWA World title, held by Verne Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel. “He was one of the real fine technicians. He was great on submission holds,” said Gagne in 1994. His association with Gagne also led to a starring role in the 1974 movie The Wrestler, which featured Ed Anser (Lou Grant) in the main role. A proud man who was legitimately tough and skilled, foes often had a hard time adapting to his shoot/submission in-ring techniques. Ivan Koloff called Robinson “a real- life hooker, one of a kind,” and put him in the same category as Edouard Carpentier and Mil Mascaras for their unique styles. “There were several guys like that who were in right great shape, and they’re the type of wrestlers that you had to be on your toes and work hard to make a match. Not that they were difficult that way, it was just the idea that they were proud guys and you just didn’t kick them around in the ring.” Besides his success in North America, Robinson is close to being a deity in Japan, where he did countless tours, was the first ever International Wrestling Alliance World champion, battled Antonio Inoki in a massive 1975 contest, and is a respected trainer. When Lou Thesz championed the United Wrestling Federation, an attempt to bring legitimacy back to professional wrestling, he had Robinson alongside. “Billy is a competitor to the core.” said Thesz in 1997, adding that he had “ultimate respect for his ability and spirit,” and that “he is also more fun than a barrel of Aussies.” Robinson still heads to Japan on a regular basis from his home in Little Rock, Arkansas. — Greg Oliver

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