‘Exotic’ Adrian Street dies at 82

“Imitation is supposed to be the best form of flattery. They look like two little ducks trying to imitate a swan. They may be pretty, but I am beautiful” – Adrian Street

One of the most colorful and influential figures of professional wrestling, Adrian Street, died at the age of 82.

Street had battled multiple health complications of late, according to his wife and long-time valet, Linda.

She spoke to the BBC and acknowledged a recent heart issue the former wrestler had sustained followed by a stroke in July that led to a brain bleed and a procedure. While recovering, Street developed colitis, which turned into sepsis and was the cause of his death, according to his wife.

Street is arguably the most famous professional wrestler from Wales, born on December 5, 1940.

His father was a coal miner, who was a prisoner of war by the Japanese military and would be the subject of a famous photograph years later with his son.

Street had no desire to follow his father in the coalmines of Brynmawr in Wales and left school at 15 to pursue his dream of emulating his heroes which includes George Kidd and Buddy Rogers.

He discovered bodybuilding in his pre-teen years and his physique became a distinguishable part of his act despite a 5-foot-7 frame in an industry rapidly increasing in size.

Street trained in boxing and picked up grappling techniques along the way that would serve him well and earn a reputation as a legitimate shooter in his pro wrestling days.

In 1957, he caught his break and made his pro debut wrestling as ‘Kid Tarzan Jonathan’ and worked the independent circuit in England for several years before catching on with Joint Promotions in 1961. The promoters wanted to change his name to ‘Adrian Stuart’, which Street pushed back on and they arrived at using his real name.

Street met Linda Gunthorpe Hawker in 1969 and began a relationship that would last throughout the rest of his life. She wrestled for a period as Blackfoot Sioux but is remembered far more as ‘Miss Linda’ and the valet of Street.

The duo pushed on the buttons of the era where Street’s sexuality was openly questioned but never addressed by Street. This dynamic would be attempted and replicated many times including Goldust & Marlena, and later Rico & Jackie Gayda (who went by ‘Miss Jackie’ as a clear nod to the predecessor and Rico being highly influenced by Street).  

Street would rise through the ranks and became a prolific tag wrestler with Bobby Barnes as Hell’s Angels, and Tony Charles as The Welsh Wizards.

In 1973, he returned home as the conquering hero that had gained fame from the mining town. A photo was taken by Dennis Hutchinson of Street in full garb with his father and fellow coalminers watching on at the Blaenau Gwent colliery. It was used in many forums over the years and extended to outline a social divide and take on a life of its own.

Street left Joint Promotions in 1974 to work independently, which was more lucrative for the performer after hitting a financial ceiling with Joint.

Street tried his hand at promoting including co-promoting with Orig Williams and saw firsthand the rigors of that aspect of the industry and dealing with performers.

Street and Linda ventured to North America in 1981 to wrestle for Stampede Wrestling where he worked with Davey Boy Smith, Bret Hart, Bruce Hart, Keith Hart, and teamed with Dynamite Kid.

His travels took him to Mexico where he wrestled for the UWA and then headed to Memphis.

Street & Miss Linda feuded with Bill Dundee and included multiple handicap matches where Jim Cornette teamed with Street & Linda against Dundee. This led to Street teaming with Jesse Barr & Cornette against The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) in 1983 when The Fabs were red hot in the territory.

Street’s next stop was Championship Wrestling from Florida for promoter Eddie Graham in 1983. Street feuded with Scott McGhee over the Florida Heavyweight Championship and worked with a young Terry Allen a.k.a. Magnum T.A., who was the rising babyface star of the territory that would jump to Jim Crockett Promotions the following year. Their program included Street beating Allen in a Lumberjack Match in Orlando on June 5, 1983.

Street’s big program in the territory began in May when he started working with Dusty Rhodes around the loop and led to matches with Barry Windham and ended Street’s run in the territory with mixed tag matches as Windham & Fabulous Moolah beat Street & Miss Linda in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami.

Street worked for Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling for several months and moved to Mid-Atlantic in April 1984 as Dusty Rhodes was taking over as booker for the territory and lasted through the summer.

Mid-South was the next stop for Street in the summer of 1984 and defeated Terry Taylor for the Mid-South Television Championship in September and held it for two months before dropping it to former rival Bill Dundee in November. Street was programmed against Terry Taylor with Street losing a series of ‘Loser Leaves Town’ matches across the territory on his way out at the end of 1984.

Street returned to Memphis and feuded with Randy Savage, who was winding down his time in the territory and getting ready to jump to the WWF.

Street spent six months in Memphis and moved to Alabama to work for Continental, which was his longest stay. He entered the territory and immediately won the Southeastern Heavyweight title from Austin Idol and held it for six months, losing to Norvell Austin in January 1986 and would hold the title four times altogether with multiple switches with Wendell Cooley before finally losing the title to Dutch mantel in April 1987. After losing the title, he was programmed in a series of ‘Loser Leaves Town’ matches against Mantel as Street exited the territory.

Street would wrestle on and off for years with the Global Wrestling Federation in 1991, and various independents throughout Alabama, and wrestled as late as 2010 before ending his in-ring career just before he turned 70.

Street never wrestled for the WWF/WWE, although in an interview with John Lister for his book Have A Good Week…Till Next Week, Street said he was offered a role once. Street stated, “They wanted me to come in as a manager for a new team of Johnny Smith and somebody else who’d be called the Skinheads. It would have been racial, white supremacist kind of thing. I said no because I hate anything like that.”

In 2001, he was diagnosed with throat cancer but overcame the disease.

In 2005, Street and Miss Linda finally got married at a ceremony at the Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion with Don Leo Jonathan serving as Street’s best man.

Street penned seven autobiographies detailing his life and beginning with ‘My Pink Gas Mask’ in May 2012 and finishing his life story with ‘Merchant of Menace’ in 2015.

A biopic on Street titled ‘You May Be Pretty, But I Am Beautiful’ was released in 2019, as was a WWE Network special on his life.

He was a crossover figure from professional wrestling and released three music albums throughout his career.

Street and Miss Linda attended and were shown on camera at last year’s Clash at the Castle event in Cardiff, Wales.

The two had lived in Florida for years and ran a costume and makeup business called The Bizarre Bazaar along with the Skull Krushers Wrestling Academy, which was destroyed due to Hurricane Ivan in 2004. After the loss of the school, they two moved back to Wales.

After his stroke, Street underwent surgery on his brain and was in recovery when he developed colitis.

He died at Cwmbran’s Grange University Hospital last Monday.

Street had five grandchildren and had been married to Miss Linda for eighteen years and together since 1969.

Several notes courtesy of:
Have A Good Week…Till Next Week by John Lister
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson
-Wrestling: Adrian Street, flamboyant legend, dies aged 82 (BBC)

About John Pollock 5598 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.