ozzy wrestling
Ozzy Osbourne wrestling as “Ozzy Zig” at the Birmingham Armoury, 1968.

Heavy metal icon and soon-to-be-inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, Ozzy Osbourne, is reportedly “over the f***cking moon, you know,” about finally getting recognition for his pre-music days as a wrestler on the UK independent wrestling circuit in the late 1960s. 

John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne began his wrestling training at age 15 in a ramshackle Birmingham boxing gym, where he was trained by journeyman British wrestler “Dr. Death” Ted Betley (in whose honour Osbourne later wrote the lyrics to the Black Sabbath song “Killing Yourself to Live”). 

Osbourne learned the ropes by wrestling several daily shows at the so-called Butlins Camps, where future stars like Daniel Bryan, William Regal and Nicholas also paid their dues. 

Osbourne wrestled under the name Ozzy Zig, and was popular with promoters because he owned his own P.A. system, but fans were indifferent to the scrappy, long-haired kid. Until, that is, he formed a tag team with a former schoolmate “Terrible” Tony Iommi and the duo dubbed themselves the Masters of Reality (which later inspired a Black Sabbath album title). 

As a duo, Osbourne and Iommi had complementary talents — Ozzy would hit the crazy high-spots and Iommi was the ground-and-pound bruiser, pummelling opponents with hooks left and right. 

Iommi’s wrestling days ended abruptly, however, when several of his fingertips were sliced off in a botched blade-job, and he returned to his first love, playing the tuba. In his spare time he learned how to also play guitar using artificial fingertips made from his old wrestling trunks — and he still uses them to this day! 

Fans of heavy metal know the rest: Ozzy retired from wrestling after getting rabies from biting the head of Abdullah the Butcher, then joined a band with Iommi, bassist Terry “Geezer” Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and part-time keyboardist Satan. 

After several name changes — including Polka Tulk Blues Band, Earth, PeroxWhy?Gen, and Terraryzing — they landed on Black Sabbath. From that point on, they pioneered heavy metal and led the so-called Rock N’ Wrestling Connection, even once writing a entrance theme song specifically for the Road Warriors. 

Osbourne has occasionally returned to his first love, pro wrestling, over the years since his in-ring heyday, most notably accompanying the British Bulldogs to their championship win at WrestleMania 2, of which Osbourne has no recollection whatsoever. 

 

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