An Extraordinary Gentleman Doc of the Week

An Extraordinary Gentleman

Wrestling is making a comeback and one of the stars leading that charge is Manchester’s own ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher. Combining some superb grappling skills with old school sartorial elegance, Gallagher is one of the main attractions on the WWE tour. This fly-on-the-wall documentary charts his remarkable career to date and offers a unique insight into the slightly surreal world of professional wrestling. eir sport 1, Mon, Jan 29th 21.30

Gallagher is old school in every sense. It’s not just the handlebar moustache, the umbrella and the tweed suit that harken back to an earlier, more innocent time - it’s his entire personality. His fans think it’s all part of his ring persona, but those who know the Mancunian best insist that’s what he’s always been like.

Born Oliver Claffey, he is a throwback to the time when the likes of Mick McManus, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Tony St Clair and Kendo Nagasaki were strutting their stuff on ITV’s World of Sport on Saturday afternoon. Part sport and part pantomime, the goodies against the baddies, it was pure theatre adored in particular, it seemed, by young children and little old ladies.


Gallagher’s introduction came slightly later but he was hooked from the start. Pointing at the screen, he told anyone who would listen: “That’s what I want to do when I grow up.” Two decades on and he is living the dream….and loving every minute of it!

Debut


Gallagher has come a long way since his debut at the age of 16 at Wigan’s Snake Pit. Then known as Jack Toxic, he teamed his punk wrestler persona with Alex Cyanide and two others to form a four-way tag team. Toxic and Cyanide then formed a duo known as ‘Lethal Dose’ and became quite a big draw on the Futureshock circuit at the time. They fought for the Tag Team Championship on three occasions, eventually winning the title at the third attempt.


Still under the name of Jack Toxic, he made his singles debut in 2008, but initially had little success. However, his fortunes changed when he adopted the name of Jack Gallagher in 2010 and he was crowned champion the following year. During this time he also fought in Japan under the name Jack Anthony.

His career followed an uneven trajectory until he qualified for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic in early 2016. After enduring a decade as little more than a journeyman, a new star was about to be born. WWE offered him a contract and he is now an integral part of its cruiserweight division and '205 Live' network show, a regular hour-long programme dedicated to those weighing 205lbs and under (cruiserweight).

Gallagher initially fought in trunks like the other wrestlers, but last year adopted a new uniform of full tweed suit and umbrella (which he refers to as ‘William III’). The move raised his profile significantly with American audiences who loved his new English pantomime villain persona. The fact that he had the wrestling moves to match didn’t do him any harm either!


Directed by Adam Gill for Figure Four Films and Paragon Pictures, An Extraordinary Gentleman gives us a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a budding superstar. We hear from the man himself, his family, friends, trainers and even former opponents, none of whom have a bad word to say about him. A star he may be, but Gallagher remains down to earth and humble. He has paid his dues and this quintessentially English eccentric is reaping the rewards at last across the pond.

It’s been a long journey from the Wigan Snake Pit!

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir Sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to eirsport.ie for more sports news and stories or eir.ie to find out more about how we're setting sport free.

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