North West Wales

Ysbyty Ifan honours El Bandito's memory with plaque

Image caption A plaque has been put on on the childhood home of El Bandito in Ysbyty Ifan, near Betws-y-Coed

A memorial to the late Welsh wrestler Orig Williams has been unveiled in the Conwy village where he was born.

A plaque has been placed on his childhood home in Ysbyty Ifan, near Betws-y-Coed, to mark the second anniversary of his death.

El Bandito, as he was known on both sides of the Atlantic, died aged 78.

His widow, Wendy, and daughter, singer and actress Tara Bethan, attended Saturday's event organised by Ysbyty Ifan Community Council.

It was followed by presentations by people who knew the wrestler.

The wrestler was a favourite on the Welsh language TV programme, Reslo, shown in the 1980s on S4C, and became one of its biggest stars.

Liverpool evacuees

But before even entering the wrestling ring he was a professional footballer and a boxer, and later a newspaper columnist.

The fighter and promoter gained his famous El Bandito name while touring America.

But alongside his wrestling and promotion career, he had played professionally for Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury Town, later becoming the player/manager for Nantlle Vale.

Born in Ysbyty Ifan in 1932, he once told how he took to fighting when Liverpool evacuees stayed in the area during World War II.

"We couldn't speak English, they couldn't speak Welsh, so we had fights, naturally," he recalled.

He went on to hone his boxing and wrestling skills while a member of the Air Force, forging out a successful career as a wrestler and travelling the world.

Image caption El Bandito became a boxing coach after wrestling

He returned to Wales as a boxing coach and had an influence on the career of Randolph Turpin, a former middleweight boxing champion of the world.

Before the ceremony, his daughter Ms Bethan said: "Ysbyty Ifan was close to my dad's heart and it's great that the people of the village want to pay tribute to him.

"It will be an honour for me and my mother to be part of the ceremony.

"Dad moved away at the age of 18 to join the RAF but he liked taking me to Ysbyty Ifan, showing me places he knew and returning for special occasions.

"It will be a day of mixed emotions but it will be nice to remember him with lots of friends and family and to do something that will lift people's spirits."

Council clerk Eirian Roberts said: "We're doing this because Orig was from this area, he never forgot his roots and he put Ysbyty Ifan on the map."

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