Ultra-glam Welsh wrestler revered by Turner prizewinner Jeremy Deller dies aged 82

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A favourite muse of the Turner prizewinner Jeremy Deller has died. Welsh wrestling icon Adrian Street, born in Blaenau Gwent in Wales, blazed a trail as a flamboyant, lipstick-wearing fighter who took part in more than 12,000 bouts.

A photo by Dennis Hutchinson taken of Street alongside his father in 1973—showing the wrestler in outrageous garb alongside the miners at Blaenau Gwent colliery—made an impact on the artist. “Adrian Street is a wrestler I first became aware of through a photograph showing him with his father, which seemed to me possibly the most important photograph taken post-war. It encapsulates the whole history of Britain in that period, of our uneasy transition from being a centre of heavy industry to a producer of entertainment and services,” says Deller.

Deller’s film on the life and legacy of Street, So Many Ways to Hurt You (The Life and Times of Adrian Street), was commissioned by Grizedale Arts for the São Paulo Biennial in 2010. The moving, absorbing account of Street’s journey includes his account of returning to the Welsh pit where he worked as a miner, referencing the 1973 photograph. “I never went there again until I was wearing the European middleweight championship belt,” he says. “It was something Adrian Street the miner could never have accomplished… The make-up, the hair, the clothes, the belt was a [middle finger] to my father and to the other miners.” RIP Adrian.

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