This time there’s no coming back after Worthing match, says retiring wrestler

Philip  Barham (left) and Doug Williams clash in a Premier Promotions ring at Worthing

Philip Barham (left) and Doug Williams clash in a Premier Promotions ring at Worthing

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Former British wrestling champion Philip Barham is promising plenty of fireworks when he brings down the curtain on a golden ring career at the Worthing Assembly Hall on October 26.

The 46-year-old father of two, who lives in Haywards Heath and works as a security guard at Gatwick Airport, is known to grappling fans as Flash Barker and has been one of the biggest names in the business for 25 years.

During that time, the multi-winning Premier Wrestling Federation champion and trophy holder has fought hundreds of bouts, wrestled in Europe and appeared in front of 25,000 people on a show

in Dubai.

But now he is finally calling time on a glittering career because of a series of bone-shuddering injuries, culminating in surgery on a damaged shoulder.

“My body can’t take the trauma any more,” he said.

Philip was forced to quit the ring ten years ago after suffering a serious knee injury but battled back to fight many of the top stars in the grappling game.

“This time there will be no coming back. I don’t intend to ever step into a wrestling ring again.”

So why Worthing? Philip chose the Assembly Hall for his farewell appearance.

“It’s my favourite place, and I wanted to say goodbye to the fans there and thank them personally for their support over the years,” he said.

The Sussex arena, where he has appeared more than 50 times since making his debut there in 1994, has been the stage for many of Philip’s most important matches and his biggest triumphs.

He lifted the PWF mid-heavyweight title there in 2001, beating Doug Williams, and two years later won the blue riband crown, the heavyweight championship, defeating Williams and Ricky Knight in a three-way tournament.

Former American TNA and Ring of Honour champion Williams has arguably been Philip’s toughest opponent, but the Sussex-based star has an impressive record against him, having won five of their nine encounters, while other big names he has been in the ring with include ‘Bomber’ Pat Roach, Robbie Brookside, Americans Tiger Steele and Rico the Gladiator, Drew McDonald and Klondyke Jake.

Philip’s entry into the professional ranks was a colourful one. He joined a wrestling club after a background in judo and martial arts.

“I was only 11st. and got bounced around by guys who were 22, 25 and 26 stone,” he said. “But I stuck around until they realised I wasn’t going to go away, so they decided to train me!”

Other high spots during his career came with victories in the Worthing Trophy knockout event, the prestigious Ken Joyce Trophy competition and the Worthing Rumblemania Trophy, and he was twice named the UK Wrestler of the Year.

Matchmakers Premier Promotions have ensured Philip will exit at the top.

His last foray into the ring will see him involved in a featured international main event on the big half-term spectacular, on October 26, when he partners Southern Area champion Kris Kay against Germany’s former European champion Christian Eckstein and Stampede Steve.

Tickets, including reserved ringside seats and discounts for advanced bookings, are available from the box office on 01903 206206, or online via worthingtheatres.co.uk.

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