KENDO NAGASAKI (real name Peter William Thornley) was one of the most celebrated English professional wrestlers when the sport was at its peak in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
At one time millions of viewers used to tune in to ITV’s World of Sport on Saturday afternoons to cast their eyes on the likes Kendo and other big names – Mick McManus and Big Dandy (Shirley Crabtree) to name but a few – grapple with their opponents in the ring.
The top wrestlers adopted an assortment of gimmicks, to add colour and glamour to their profession, and Kendo posed as fearsome mysterious masked Japanese Samurai Warrior, who entered the ring clutching a huge intimidating sword.
Kendo’s face mask was partly hidden underneath a black and gold metal visor. He wore a red and silver tunic, red vest and tights, a polished breastplate and high lace-up boots.
Such was the brutality that Kendo inflicted on his rivals he was judged too vicious for TV, until 1971, when he made his first appearance on World of Sport against a wrestler called Billy Hawes.
Kendo was unmasked voluntaringly during a glittering grand ceremony at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1977 and retired the following year.
However, he returned to make sporadic performances before climbing out of the ring for the last time in the 1990s.
Since then Kendo, now 75, has channelled his energies into his Nagasaki Foundation on his Moor Court estate on the fringes of Oakamoor village.
The Nagasaki Foundation is giving its support to a project launched by the family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby by providing retreat in the estate grounds for bereaved Armed Forces families.
Lee’s mother, Lyn Rigby, created the Lee Rigby Foundation after her 25 year old son, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, was killed outside Woolwich Barracks in London, in May 2013.
Lee served as a solider in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment 0f Volunteers and his gruesome death shocked the nation.
The purpose of the Lee Rigby Foundation is to gain better support for parents mourning the death of their loved ones who served in the Forces.