John Dennison - Obituary


Saturday Oct 13th - Alwinton - Cancelled

Saturday Oct 13th - Wasdale Head - 4pm - U11 / U12 / U13 / U15 / U18 / 10½st / 12st / AW

Wednesday Oct 17th 7.30pm Carlisle Wrestling Club opening night at Currock House Gym

Saturday Oct 27th - Buttermere Show - U12 /U15 / U18 / Girls / 12½st / AW

Friday November 9th - Wrestling Association Presentation Dinner, Low Hesket Hall. Tickets £15, Jumiors £10 - from Alf Harrington

John Dennison, a great Cumberland and Westmorland style champion wrestler of the 1960s and 70s, has died suddenly while on holiday in Portugal. Only weeks before he had been chatting and organising in his usual role as Wrestling Manager of the Westmorland Show.

Originally from Crook, he and his brothers, Edward, Bruce and Frank, had learned their wrestling amongst the elite families at Kendal Academy, the Hayhursts and the Blands. Albert, his father, was a Governing Board member who believed that all Board men should force their sons to wrestle.

All his sons were good wrestlers, but John was exceptional, and he won his first world championship, the Under 18s, at Hethersgill in 1962, closely followed by the 10½ stones the following year when he felled Geoff Wilson of Lamonby in the final at Ambleside.

In 1964 he continued his progress by winning the 12st Championship at Egremont Crab Fair. However, his main successes came in the lightweights for he was a tall, lean figure who always wrestled at around 11 stones. Jim Bland remembers him as a wrestler with lots of chips, a good chest, and particularly good with the outside-stroke and inside-click.

Parallel with his success in the ring, he was also single-mindedly building up his farming career, beginning with the tenancy of a forty-acre council farm near Broughton. This meant that he did not travel so much to compete, but focused on the big events, Ambleside, Grasmere and the championships. After a comparative lull, he flourished in the early seventies. 1971 was a good year when he won the 11 stones at Grasmere and the championship trophy at Ambleside. His final opponent at both venues was his great rival Billy Bland. In 1975 he repeated the heroics of 1971, when he won the 11 stones at Grasmere, took second place in the 12 stones too, and then at his local Millom and Broughton Show regained the 11st World Championship beating Tom Harrington in the final.

Dairy farming then took over his ambitions and, with the same concentration that he had shown in his wrestling, he built his herd and his farming up until he was a pre-eminent breeder of Holstein cattle. The Denmire Herd has 400 cows milking three times a day, on over a thousand acres of land, and supplying seventy bulls a year for dairy farmers.

Whether wrestling or farming, with all his success, he always remained a quiet, unassuming, cheerful man, still waters running deep. He leaves Margaret, his wife and three sons Michael, Andrew and Stephen.


The cancellation of this year's Alwinton Show means that I shall at last be able to attend Wasdale Head Show which always clashed with the Northumbrian event. I have attended Alwinton sixty-five times since the Second World War; perhaps it is time for a change.

On Wednesday evening I shall be at Currock House, Carlisle for the opening session of Carlisle Wrestling Club.

Results TBA ( * signifies 'not eligible' for The Victor Ludorum 2012)

Wasdale Head Show .........

Event First Second Third
Under 11 Years      
Under 12 Years      
Under 13 Years      
Under 15 Years      
Under 18 Years      
10½ Stone      
12 Stone      
All Weights      
Written by © RogerRobson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott(2012)

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