Wrestling legend Johnny ‘Rasputin’ Howard, who died two years ago, will be remembered at a special fundraising night at Banbridge Rugby Club on Saturday, February 28.
A celebration of Johnny’s life will be held on his birthday and all proceeds for the night will go to Chest, Heart and Stroke NI. Doors open at 7.30pm.
Known as the Mad Monk, Johnny fought some wrestling superstars like Giant Haystacks and Tony St Clair.
Topping the bill will be Abba tribute band, Bjorn Identity, and prizes from the a raffle can be won including signed merchandise from WWE Superstars, Irish international hooker Rory Best and motor cycle ace Ryan Farquhar.
Johnny, who was dogged with ill health in the later stage of his life, died in 2013 at the age of 75.
Johnny’s association with Giant Haystacks pulled in the crowds. He had a famous feud with the wrestling superstar which saw the pair topping the bill all over the UK and Ireland.
Among some of the titles he won were the European Heavyweight and he often took great delight in relieving his old rival Tony St Clair of his British Heavyweight Championship.
It was in the mid 90’s that Johnny was dogged with ill health. He underwent a triple bypass and suffered from diabetes.
In 2011 he suffered a massive stroke which left him partially paralysed after suffering a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack).
Widow Michelle explained: “This time we knew recovery wasn’t going to be as effective. This left him disabled down the left hand side. He needed speech therapy and had to learn to walk again. As devastating as it was for us all, we managed to keep both our humour and his, although many days we laughed and others we cried.”
The family got through the traumatic time thanks to the help of their local stroke team which was why they wanted proceeds to go to the Heart, Chest and Stroke charity.
“We couldn’t have done without the stroke team as we received outstanding support throughout Johnny’s rehab,” she said. “And as Abba was Johnny’s favourite band, who better to top the bill than Bjorn Identity.”
Karen Rush of Bjorn Identity said: “We were particularly touched when we discovered that Abba was Johnny’s favourite group and that he had actually met them in person, more than we could ever hope to do.”
Tickets £12.50 and can be got from Glam Madame and Walshes Newsagent.