Bob Robinson was a British Wrestler better known by his Ring Name of Billy Joyce and he is widely regarded as one of the top British Heavyweights of all time and one of the best technical wrestlers in British Wrestling History.
Like many a Lancashire lad Joyce joined the family business and worked down the coalmine before finding his way, as many Wigan men did, into the world of Wrestling. It was his brother Joe (a wrestler himself) who introduced him to the business and it would be Joe again who introduced him to Billy Riley and the Snake Pit where he began to learn his trade and from then on his daily routine would be a hard day’s work down the mine followed by a hard evenings work in the Snake Pit where he learnt the business of wrestling.
In the early days of his career it was difficult for him to reach the arenas where the event was taking place. With only a small bag containing his wrestling gear and a hot or cold drink, depending on the weather, he would mount his bicycle and ride to wherever his match was taking place, wrestle his bout, then ride home again. For matches too far to ride to he would hitch a ride with another local wrestler until he saved enough to buy a car. Once he had his car he travelled all over the country to wrestle but always returned home the next day as he would never leave his family long.
A shy man by nature Joyce was often overshadowed by more flashy contemporaries and didn’t have the impact on wrestling image wise that they did but for him this didn’t matter. For Joyce had only two loves, wrestling and his family, so as long as he could do what he loved and he had his family behind him he was happy. Often the heel he never liked to bring his family to watch him wrestle as he never wanted them to see him having abuse hurled at him by hundreds of people and wanted to save them from the distress this would cause.
For thirty years he sat on top of the wrestling world in Britain. He would start each day with three hundred press ups followed by five hundred sit ups and then a daily visit to the Snake Pit to spar, perfect his techniques and help train the new blood. One of those new blood’s that he help train was a Belgian by the name of Karl Istaz who would reach greater fame later as Karl Gotch. Joyce took Gotch under his wing, taught him all he knew; took him into his home whenever he was in the region and looked out for him. Years later Joyce’s daughter Dorothy was in America and visited Gotch at his home where he was surprised but delighted to see them and recorded a message to his old teacher – proving that although Gotch had achieved great success he hadn’t forgotten Joyce.
Joyce was a stubborn man and was reluctant to let anyone better him. He always told his wife “if I can lick ‘em, I’ll lick em” and was as good as his word. This made him rather difficult to work with sometimes. While never a man who liked to travel far he did wrestle in Europe and was tempted out to Japan by his good friends Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch but he never wrestled once in America, not because he was never wanted there but because he refused to go there.
Some were truly afraid to wrestler Joyce and refused to even step in the ring with him but most wrestlers thought highly of him and knew him as a very nice and amiable man and respected him as a great worker with a high level of skill and knowledge about wrestling.
Roy Wood, a student of the Snake Pit and the man who took over the running of it from Riley after Riley died, said that Joyce was the best wrestler to ever come out of Wigan. Geoff Condcliffe, better known as Count Bartelli, said that Joyce was the only wrestler he would pay to watch an likened his bouts with Joyce to a chess game in which he was always two or three moves behind Joyce. Karl Gotch names Joyce as the last great “Ripper” of British Wrestler, an opinion shared of Joyce by Billy Robinson who said “His only weakness was that he was too nice, he wanted to beat you but not to hurt you”.
- Trained by
- Wrestlers Trained
Championships and accomplishments
- (1)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Gordon Nelson (April 15, 1958)
- (2)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Ernie Baldwin (December ?, 1959
- (3)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Dennis Mitchell (July 15, 1960)
- (4)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Geof Portz (September 26, 1964)
- (5)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Gwynn Davies (March 17, 1966)
- (6)British Heavyweight Title - defeating Ian Campbell (June 28, 1966
- European Heavyweight Title - defeating Jim Olivera (?1961)