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Wrestling returns to Sittingbourne on Sunday

By John Nurden

The grunt and groan men are on their way back to Sittingbourne.

Wrestling champ Syd Manelli clinched his first trophy after beating the masked Mr USA at Kemsley last year and is now facing his first challenge.

He will defend his title at the Appleyard, formerly UKP Leisure Club, in Remembrance Avenue on Sunday at 4pm.

Wrestler Syd Manelli and Mr USA (6926473)
Wrestler Syd Manelli and Mr USA (6926473)

Fresh-faced Syd, 22, from Maidstone is a school caretaker by day but by night dons a sparkling jacket and blue tights to climb into the ring.

He is following in the footsteps of his dad Steve Manelli, a favourite with Kent audiences, and his late grandad Brian Manelli who was the mystery man behind mask of The Phantom.

Also on the bill will be a blindfold match between South Londoner James Mason and his long time rival, hunky Lewis Howley from Essex.

Wrestler Lewis Howley (6926469)
Wrestler Lewis Howley (6926469)

Lewis, a muscle-bound 6ft 1in male model, hit the headlines when he became the first man on TV's First Date to be left in the lurch when his girl walked out on him after he refused to share his steak.

The afternoon is presented by Rumble Wrestling's Stephen Barker who used to run the town's popular Zarbez under-18s discos at the Swallows Leisure Centre.

The former milkman, who now works for Bestways cash and carry in Rochester, still remembers being taken to watch his first wrestling bout for his 10th birthday by his dad at Chatham’s Central Hall Theatre.

Wrestling champ Syd Manelli (6924830)
Wrestling champ Syd Manelli (6924830)

He said: “After that, I would go every month to see stars like Mick McManus and Les Kellett.

"One day the promoters Dale Martin were short and asked for a volunteer to act as one of the wrestler’s seconds. My hand went up like a shot and they picked me.

“I made friends with the wrestlers and would arrive early to help put the ring up and take it down. At the end of the 1980s I was a second at the All Star Wrestling TV shows and even ended up refereeing bouts between Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy and Nagasaki.”

Get ready to rumble. Tickets are £12.

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