Tributes to wrestler who saved two lives

Well-known Keighley sportsman, Arthur Jackson, who has died aged 87, pictured with his wife, Nora

Well-known Keighley sportsman, Arthur Jackson, who has died aged 87, pictured with his wife, Nora

First published in Keighley
Last updated

A former wrestler and all-round Keighley sportsman who saved the lives of two youngsters has died, aged 87.

Arthur Jackson, from Utley, passed away in Airedale Hospital. He had been ill for several years.

His only child, Barrie Jackson, said: “He was a well-known person, who spent a lot of time in the public eye because of all the sport he was involved with.

“He was very loving, and he’d do anything for anybody. His family meant the world to him.”

Mr Jackson was born in Keighley. He was a professional wrestler from 1952 to 1964, touring the country to perform in a ring in front of hundreds of people.

He was also a keen rugby player and swimmer. He played and coached for Keighley Albion, and even took up karate when he was 44 years old, going on to gain a black belt.

In 1944, when he was aged just 19, he put his swimming skills to the best possible use by saving a four-year-old boy from drowning in Aireworth Mill Dam. His swift action was rewarded with a certificate from the Royal Humane Society.

As if that wasn’t enough, when he worked as an attendant at Keighley Swimming Baths 35 years later, he rescued a young girl, this time receiving a letter of commendation from the police.

As a light heavyweight pro wrestler he was a regular feature on bills throughout the 1950s and into the early 60s.

Although he mostly worked in the north of England and Scotland, he did travel south and work for Dale Martin Promotions, facing the big names of the 1950s, including Mike Marino, Norman Walsh, Ernie Riley and Tibor Szakacs.

He made it onto the nation’s television screens at least once, wrestling Frank O’Donnell at Grantham in April 1960.

Two years before turning professional, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nora, whom he had known since their days at Parkwood Primary School. The couple celebrated their diamond wedding in 2010.

As well as Nora and Barrie, he leaves behind his daughter-in-law Hazel, grandchildren Jarrod and Kara and great grandchildren Caitlin, Nina and Jackson.

Mr Jackson’s funeral service was due to take place at Skipton Crematorium yesterday.

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