MASKED KENDO: I HID MY SEXUALITY
whose mum died when he was seven – was branded a loner and trouble maker at school, but discovered the sport of judo aged 17 and aimed to be in Britain’s 1964 Olympic team.
But an accident working as a coachbuilding apprentice cost him half his left index finger – making judo holds impossible.
A car dealer friend Geoff Condliffe – wrestling champ Count Bartelli – introduced him to the sport.
Peter says: “I knew when I turned to wrestling I needed a gimmick.
“So I combined Kenshiro’s teachings about the Samurai with the showmanship of Count Bartelli. But the spiritual side was always real. That wasn’t a show. I saw that combat sport was more than fighting. There was a spiritualism which gave me peace and continues to do so today.
“The ability to step outside oneself and find peace has always been my secret. Millions practise it today as mindfulness. It is the secret to life.
“Kenshiro gave me a path through life through meditation. I owe so much to Kenshiro. Without him there would have been no Kendo.”
His wrestling career brought fame worldwide – as well as fury from fans who hated his savage style – including his Kamikaze Crash where he threw an opponent to the canvas then rolled over them with his shoulder.
His feuds with popular stars like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks led one fan to stab him in the back with a pen.
Another fan packed a house brick in her handbag and walloped him on the head with it.
And at one show a woman was heard screaming: “You’re f ***** g evil, Nagasaki! You’re a f ***** g animal! You’re nothing but a monster!”
His years in the ring have a taken a toll on his body. He has had ops on three damaged neck vertebrae and his Peter in his stage outfit in 1986 left knee, has arthritic hips, a steel pin in a toe and a “dodgy” left shoulder.
But he still rises at 6am, meditates for an hour, takes a long walk around his nine-acre estate in Staffordshire, works, then meditates again.
He says meditation and a diet of porridge, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables has kept him healthy and strong.
Peter now plans to recreate one of TV wrestling’s greatest moments – when he was unmasked in the ring by George Gillett in 1977 at the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton.
On The Man Behind the Kendo shows off a move Mask Mini-tour, Lyn Rigby will recreate the unmasking at five venues this month – the Beck Theatre, Hayes, Middlesex, on October 22, the Princes Hall, Aldershot, Surrey, on the 23rd, Woodville Halls, Gravesend, Kent, on the 24th, King’s Theatre, Hanley, Staffs, on the 26th and Dudley Town Hall, West Midlands, on the 27th. email@example.com Kendo Nagasaki and the Man Behind the Mask by Peter Thornley, is in shops on November 1 and available now to pre-order online.
Kendo legend Peter today FACE OFF HOLD TIMES