When Shak Khan steps into the ring to wrestle his mentor Dave Duran in his parents’ homeland of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan next month, it will be for a title - and a good cause.
A very fit and active 44, and in demand to wrestle in rings all over the world as The Beast From The East, Halifax-raised Shak will star as a crowd of thousands watch them battle for the World Title Belt of Pakistan on Friday, March 16, and raise money for a Rawalpindi based charity which benefits Pakistan’s poor and orphaned children.
Shak’s family are from a village called Sochani, which is near Dadyal in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, while he himself spent most of his first 14 years in Halifax, in Norton Tower, Pellon and King Cross, going to Warley Road and Haugh Shaw Secondary Schools and has happy memories of visiting the fire station at King Cross, the local golf club for bob-a-job and climbing Wainhouse Tower.
Very active as a boy, with a love of Bruce Lee’s martial arts films, trouble in Halifax when he beat up a school bully suggested any aggression needed channeling. And at 14, with a family move to Blackpool, the resort which is still his base, he found his calling watching live wrestling bouts at Blackpool Tower.
“I was fascinated with these sportsman who would come out of the ring being cheered and booed, music playing on entrance to the ring, like a mixture of actors, sportsmen and warrior superstars.
“I had seen live in action all the TV wrestlers such as Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and Big Daddy - Shirley Crabtree from Halifax.
“One wrestler was called the Road Warrior, Dangerous Dave Duran, an unbeaten 18 stone strong man who looked like a very angry Burt Reynolds, very broad and stocky.
“He was the wrestler everyone tried to beat, a local tough guy who dealt with rowdy mobs and groups who caused trouble in the nitespots of Blackpool, Dave was the man every night club would call upon to disperse the trouble makers.”
Having asked Blackpool promoter Bobby Baron to take him on in his mid-teens, Dangerous Dave became Shak’s mentor, friend and colleague over years in the ring and on the road.
Ten years on, Shak had experience gained in hundreds of wrestling bouts under my belt, appearing all over the UK, in the United Arab Emirates and, after his victory in 1998 to win his World Title Belt in front of 20,000 people in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, he was getting booked by promoters all over the world.
“I was flying to different countries every month, wrestling big names and appearing on shows with the wrestlers I had actually grown up watching live. I have defended my World Title Belt of Kashmir in countries such as Dubai, Qatar, South Africa, Japan, America, Greece, France, Spain, in the Caribbean and Poland.
“I have appeared on worldwide satellite TV, appeared in the sport pages in newspapers all over the world and been financially rewarded for my fights, said Shak.
“Because I have had a great career in my sport of wrestling, I wanted to give something back and this is my dream match, facing Dangerous Dave Duran the Road Warrior as we battle to see who will win the coveted World Title Belt of Pakistan.
“Dave is the man who is unbeaten and wrestlers refuse to fight. Dave is my idol.”