Special football match to commemorate the legendary Orig Williams

Legendary wrestler Orig Williams

One of Wales’ greatest sporting personalities will be remembered at a special football match in his honour this weekend.

Llansannan will meet Nantlle Vale on Saturday with the Cwpan Orig Williams at stake. Kick-off is 2pm at the Llan Siro.

Orig, who died in 2009, was a well-known local footballer in the 1950s before later becoming a major figure in British wrestling, competing under the name El Bandito.

CPD Llansannan manager Tom Lewis said: “We arranged a pre-season friendly and then decided it would be a good idea to dedicate it to Orig Williams, who had strong links to both villages and both clubs.

“Orig lived in Llansannan for many years and famously represented and later managed Nantlle Vale, so it’s fitting that we should honour him by naming a cup after him for his massive contribution to both communities.

“It’ll be a tough game for our lads as Nantlle Vale are a good side in a higher division, but it’ll be an excellent test for us ahead of what will hopefully be a successful season.”

Llansannan and Nantlle Vale will play for the Orig Williams Cup

Orig Williams (20 March 1931 – 12 November 2009)

Orig Williams was a professional wrestler and wrestling promoter.

He spent his wrestling career in the persona of a villainous heel under the pseudonym El Bandito, and after retiring as a fighter became a promoter, manager and television presenter.

He is recognised as one of the most famous Welsh wrestlers ever.

Born in the small village of Ysbyty Ifan in Conwy county in 1931, he was the son of a local quarryman, and was educated at the local primary school.

Williams was accustomed to fighting from a young age, but despite his combative nature, was awarded a place in the local grammar school at nearby Llanrwst.

After leaving school, Williams spent his National Service with the RAF, and on discharge became a professional footballer.

He played for several notable teams around North Wales and the north of England, including Bangor City, Shrewsbury Town, Oldham Athletic and Pwllheli.

He later became player-manager of Nantlle Vale, a team which gained a bad reputation for its overly-physical play and appalling disciplinary record. Williams himself would often be red carded and sent off for his repeated fouling.

After a particularly rough game, he received an injury, which forced his retirement from football.

Before leaving football, Williams had noticed local crowds dwindling, with one of the major factors being televised wrestling shown mid-day on Saturdays.

He took advantage of this new fad, and began working as a wrestler and boxer in fairgrounds

By the mid 1960s Williams became the top-billing performer on the independent wrestling circuit.

As his career progressed he was invited to fight in India, where he wrestled the Bholu Brothers, with whom he later toured Pakistan for 18 months. Other tours saw him take in the Middle East, the Far East, Continental Europe and the USA.

While in America he adopted the wrestling name, “El Bandito“, due to his large handlebar moustache.

As a wrestler, Williams played as a heel (a baddie), and enjoyed being physically imposing.

Despite his hard-man image, Williams was a popular member of the wrestling community, and went on to promote several fighters including Adrian Street, “Mighty” John Quinn, Tony St Clair, Mark Rocco and Johnny Saint.

In the 1980s, Williams presented S4C’s wrestling show, Reslo. He brought different forms of matches to Welsh audiences, including cage fights, chain matches, pole matches and female fighting, none of which had been done on ITV.

Williams was an avid promoter of wrestling bouts and appropriated the name ‘British Wrestling Federation‘, under which his shows were sometimes held. He also appeared on many of his own bills.

In his later life Williams became a writer, and for his continual promotion of the Welsh language was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at the 2000 National Eisteddfod at Llanelli.

He died from a sudden heart attack in 2009, and was survived by his wife Wendy, and daughter Tara Bethan, a successful performer on stage and screen.

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