'End of an era' for wrestling in Worthing

John Freemantle hopes to host more wrestling shows in Worthing in the futureJohn Freemantle hopes to host more wrestling shows in Worthing in the future
John Freemantle hopes to host more wrestling shows in Worthing in the future
British wrestling shows will no longer be staged at Worthing Theatres, according to promoter John Freemantle.

John, who has promoted wrestling shows in the town since 1994, says he was given ‘no choice’ after being presented with ‘terms which are not workable’ by Worthing Theatres.

The Premier Promotions events have been staged at Worthing Assembly Hall for more than two decades before Worthing Theatres changed their policy.

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He said: “I have been running wrestling shows for 23 years, since 1994. But wrestling in Worthing goes back much further.

“I remember watching wrestling in Worthing in the 1960s during the great era of British wrestling on television.

“We are talking about 60 to 70 years of wrestling in Worthing. It is sad if this is the end.

“The reason for this decision is an economic one. I have been presented with terms which are not workable.

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“In a way, it is the end of two eras. One for my events and one for Worthing.”

Barney Warrington, sales and commercial manager for Worthing Theatres, said John has been a ‘valued promoter for many years’ but believes the wrestling shows are ‘not financially viable’.

He said: “As with all events taken as a co-promotion we must be confident that we will, as a minimum requirement, cover our costs to open and staff the venue.

“Unfortunately as audience numbers have decreased it has become no longer financially viable for us to continue with wrestling as a shared venture.

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“We wish John every success and will support him, as we do all companies hiring our venues, should he choose to continue to bring wrestling to the Assembly Hall.”

John’s final show at Worthing Assembly Hall was staged on Monday, April 10 – 23 years after his first.

He added: “Monday was a very special night for a number of reasons.

“Lots of the wrestlers jumped out of the ring and said some lovely things about me which was nice.

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“A number of wrestlers have said to me that they have enjoyed being part of my shows the most.

“Unlike other promoters, I have tried to keep British elements rather than copying the American style. This is extremely popular with the fans.”

Mr Warrington from Worthing Theatres assured fans that no replacement wrestling shows were being searched for.

He said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank John for the years of wrestling promotions he has brought to the Assembly Hall.

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“We are not actively looking for a replacement wrestling promoter and hope John will be able to find a local financially viable venue for his shows. We wish him all the very best for the future.”

Despite the decision to end shows at Worthing Assembly Hall, John hopes to host more wrestling shows in Worthing in the future.

He said: “After Monday it would have been the perfect occasion to ride away into the sunset but I owe it the people who attended my shows over the years.

“Shows are done at Worthing Theatres as we speak but I would still like to host shows in Worthing in the future.

“I don’t want to let anyone down.”

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