Northwick Park hospital porter hidden condition as British champion wrestler
PUBLISHED: 18:41 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:27 08 August 2018
A hospital porter from Wembley who fought for years as a champion wrestler had no inkling he was grappling with a potentially fatal hole in his heart.
Steve Lee Curtis, of Abbotts Drive, has handled patients at Northwick Park Hospital for the last 29 years.
But the 58 year-old, who fought during the heyday of British wrestling in the 1970s and ’80s, only stopped 10 years ago when he was toppled by the first of several heart attacks.
“I was due to make a massive comeback but the doctor said no,” he said. “We found out in the end that I had a hole in my heart.
“I had a fantastic time as a wrestler and am still part of the scene but had I known I would have never wrestled because it could have killed me.”
The grandfather-of-six fell in love with the sport as a school boy at East Lane Primary School and then Copland Community School (now Ark Elvin), watching the shows at the former Brent Town Hall in Forty Lane with his own grandfather.
On becoming a pro he changed his name from Steve Silverman to Steve Lee Curtis in homage to movie star Tony Curtis, who is a distant relative.
Unaware of his heart condition, he collected battle scars including several broken noses and fingers, cracked ribs, concussion and various tears and strains.
Steve added: “It’s funny that I work as a porter in Northwick Park’s A&E nowadays because I visited here enough times as a patient. Timing is everything. The majority of injuries come from trying to lift or throw someone when you’re out of sync. It takes a lot of practice and, if you misjudge it, it can hurt.”
His big break came in 1987 when he was crowned British Light Middleweight champion.
Incredibly, wrestler Paul Darton, known as Flower Child, also worked at the hospital in the 1970s.
Flower Child entered the ring wearing a kaftan and flower patterned trousers and played the villain by blowing kisses to the audience while fouling his opponents.
Steve said: “I don’t regret a moment of it and have some fantastic memories. My advice is follow your dreams. I did and became a champion.”