Amateur and Pro Wrestler 1958-1977
Born 11/6/34 in Pukekohe, South Auckland, New Zealand. Youngest son of Domingo Da Silva and Edith Da Silva nee Edith Davey, a First World War bride from Kentish Town, London, England. The family were of a mixed race: Portuguese, African, English and French Tahitian. Grandfather Da Silva arrived in New Zealand as a whaler in 1860.
The earliest Da Silva's were born on Great Barrier Island, off the Coromandel Penninsula and became champion axemen, competing throughout New Zealand and Australia in the 1920's.
John Da Silva began amateur wrestling in 1953 and won every class from beginners to senior New Zealand champion in his first year. He defeated Abe Jacobs in the NZ Championship in Wellington, 1953 and remained NZ Champion in the Heavyweight division for the following five years. He also won the Auckland Heavyweight Amateur Boxing Title in 1955.
Throughout his amateur career which included the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia and the 1958 British Empire Games in Cardiff, Wales, he never had his shoulders pinned or lost by a fall. He turned professional in 1958 after the British Empire games and wrestled in many countries for the following 19 years.
Defeated British Empire Champion Ken Richmond, England, twice in 1958:
(1) British Empire Games Cardiff, Wales.
(2) London Games Tournament.
Held both Auckland Heavyweight Title in Boxing and New Zealand Heavyweight Wrestling at the same time in 1955.
Lost on points to:
Ivan Vykhristiouk, Russia, at 1956 Melbourne Olympics and H. Nouri from Iran.
Ranked 5th in the world in 1956.
Height: 6ft 3in
Weight: 17 stone.
I started amateur wrestling at the Auckland, New Zealand YMCA in 1953. I won the NZ Championship in my first year and retained the Heavyweight Title for five years.
The training conditions were primitive at the time but very rewarding under Mr Bert Cook who was of Tongan and Turkish descent.
I turned professional in 1958 after the Empire Games in Cardiff, Wales and wrestled firstly for Dale Martin Promotions, London, Kaiser Promotions, Germany, Dara Singh Promotions, India and New Japan Promotions, Tokyo.
Over a 10 year period I wrestled in most of New Zealand's cities and towns.
Most of my bouts were overseas matches: England, Germany, France, India, Japan, Singapore, Scotland, Ireland, Lebanon, Australia, Canada, USA and Hawaii.
I fought many local and overseas wrestlers including Robert Bruce, Steve Rickard, Al Hobman, Dara Singh, George Gordienko, Primo Canera, Pat O'Conner, Harley Race, 'Whipper' Billy Watson, Roy Heffernan, Billy Robinson and Herman Iffaland.
My toughest opponents were: (1) George Gordienko, Canada. (2) Herman Iffaland, Germany. (3) Billy Robinson, England.
My best wrestling memory was wrestling in the main Event at the Royal Albert Hall, London before royalty where I was presented a trophy by the Duke of Edinburgh.
My worst memory was attending a funeral of a wrestler killed by gangsters in Germany.
Since retiring from professional wrestling in 1977 I have run rehabilitation programmes for youth who have broken the law. I was awarded the QSM for my work of over 30 years in this area. I retired in 2005 and now live in Port Whangapara, Great Barrier Island which population numbers only 45.