Believed to be the world’s oldest wrestler, Ellesmere Port legend Buddy Ward has died aged 80, just days after making his last appearance in the ring, fittingly in the Civic Hall.
Promoters Teeside based EPW American Wrestling said in an announcement: “In loving memory of Buddy Ward.
“The worlds oldest wrestler and a true professional till the end, Buddy made his last wrestling appearance on our Ellesmere Port show on Saturday, June 13 and was given a standing ovation for his years of service to the wrestling business.
“We are so proud to have had him on our show, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
Ray Lenton posted this photograph on the Pioneer Facebook page.
Son Gary Woodward was one of several family members to add a tribute to Buddy via the EPW American Wrestling Facebook page.
He wrote: “However you knew my dad, or by what name, could have been Buddy or Alf, or Kojak is his legal name. He was a character, life and soul of the party and lived life to the full.
“I have so many crazy happy memories, just like so many of his friends, and family. RIP xxxx.”
In 2010, the wrestling grandad made a spectacular come back to the ring after more than 30 years in retirement.
Then aged 75, Buddy terrified generations of fight fans as ‘Doctor Death’ from 1957 through to his retirement in the 70s.
Married six times with 30 children
The Ellesmere Port hard man fought 3,999 matches around the world and counted the most famous wrestler of the day, Big Daddy, as a friend.
The six times married dad of 30 decided to return to the sport that left him with two cauliflower ears and a smashed nose to face his nemesis, Johnny Saint.
Ian McGregor, who promoted the bout in the Civic Hall said at the time: “When Buddy phoned me up on New Year’s Day and said he wanted to fight again I said this is not going to be a circus.
“If you’re going to fight you’re going to fight the best.
That’s also why the fight is at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall because of its great history as a wrestling venue.”
Liverpool-born Buddy, real name Alfred Woodward, was one of many wrestlers who featured on ITV’s World of Sport in the 1970s and 80s.
Asked then why he had decided to return the 15 stone self-styled ‘Champion of Cheshire’ said: “I looked in the mirror and I decided I didn’t look too bad.
“I know I can still do it. Wrestling’s like making love. You never forget how. I hope so anyway.”
Although the bout ended in defeat for Buddy, he provided excellent entertainment for the crowd.
Buddy then went on to become an after-dinner speaker.
On a previous return to the ring following a four-year absence, Buddy, a former strip show promoter, wrestled against Count Bartelli at Liverpool Stadium and got a broken rib.
The former soldier and scrap metal dealer, said at that time: “I haven’t been in the gym. The only training I’ve done is to walk my dogs.”
Fans took to social media in droves with Ian Jackson posting: “Top man Buddy, remember him on tour in Benidorm when he put his head in the fridge to cool down. Very funny man. RIP.”
Steve Perry described Buddy as ‘an inspiration to all and such a lovely, lovely fella’ while Kathryn Thomas said: “Can`t believe it. I only saw him on Saturday at the wrestling in the Civic Hall.”
Annette McHugh believed Buddy was ‘a legend of the Port right to the end’.
It is understood the funeral will take place on July 2 at 1.20pm at Chester Crematorium.