From WWE to UFC, we are exposed to different kinds of shows in the wrestling world. But have you ever heard about the old wrestling style, “Catch-as-catch-can wrestling,” also known as Catch wrestling? More deadly and violent than other contemporary wrestling styles, Catch wrestling was evolved in the 1800s. One of the best wrestlers of this style was Billy Riley. Billy was from a mining community in Wigan. He grew up in a wrestling environment as his community was famous for grappling contests among themselves.Billy was a gifted wrestler and became famous as a submission expert. To make full use of his talent, he became a professional wrestler. He was one of the first brand ambassadors for catch wrestling. In the 1920s, he became the British middleweight champion. He was also the world middleweight champion during 1919-1923. Riley’s accomplishments were not just restricted to Britain but extended to wins across different titles overseas too. He defeated Jack Robinson in Africa to win the British Empire championship in the 1930s. After retiring from wrestling in 1946, Riley did refereeing for some time. Riley returned to his hometown of Wigan in the 1950s and built a gym to get into training new wrestlers in the traditional sport. This role of Riley can be argued as his most influential role in wrestling. He produced some of the best wrestlers to grace the wrestling mat including Karl Gotch, Billy Joyce, Billy Robinson and many more. There are different stories about the gym he built. Some say it didn’t even have necessities like a toilet. While some contradict these stories, saying it had all the necessities and more required by a trainee.
The training provided by Riley was so unforgiving that many students wouldn’t return the second day. He held onto his belief that no one can be taken lightly. Everyone should be challeneged as being the best wrestler ever. A recruit could be coupled against a veteran, making most of them quit early in their involvement. But those who would pass through this tough phase would go on to become the best. Even though Riley was fierce as a wrestler and trainer, he never compromised on his sportsmanship spirit and gentlemanly attitude. Around the1990s, “Riley’s gym” got the nickname “The Snake Pit” as the style and training became famous in Japan. Eventually, the nickname became its new worldwide name. Even Riley’s students went on to become renowned trainers and produced some of the best wrestlers. The current head trainer of WWE in Florida, William Regal was trained by Johnny Saint and Marty Jones who were trained by Billy Robinson. The Snake Pit gym is still open, though not in the same building. The legacy of Riley is still impacting today’s wrestling scene. Riley passed away in 1977, but his gym is still producing the best of professional wrestlers and continues to impact the wrestling scene. The legacy of Billy Riley is kept alive by the locals, and his contribution to the world is a historical accomplishment for Lancashire.