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Forum Home > Talk Wrestling > Five Years On - Remembering Mick

The Riot Squad
Site Owner
Posts: 1495

Five years ago SaxonWolf responded to a Heritage news story with the comment:

"In his hey day he was as famous as The Beatles and just as much a part of the swinging 60's as the mini skirt and the mini car. Arguably the most famous British wrestler of all time. He stayed true to the sport he loved and never betrayed it."


The story was the death of William George McManus, who had died in the early hours of Wednesday 22nd May, 2013.


Forty plus years ago he was Mick McManus, the man we loved to hate, but the passage of time had long ago transformed him into the man wrestling fans simply loved and respected.


Mick's death came as no surprise, but like all deaths came as a shock. The death of his wife, Barbara, a short time earlier had taken a toll and Mick had recently taken up residence in a nursing home.


In his wrestling days Mick's compact stature disguised not just his physical force in the ring, but his managerial force as matchmaker and Director of both Dale Martin Promotions and Joint Promotions. Born in Camberwell, Mick was the son of a London docker. Leaving Walworth Central School he worked for eighteen months in a drawing office before joining Diprose Bateman Ltd, commercial printers of Holborn.


In the evening Mick trained at the John Ruskin Wrestling Club, where he became a close friend of wrestlers Percy Pitman and Ken Wilson. His interest in sport extended beyond wrestling to other sports, running for the South London Harriers, rowing for the Globe Rowing Club of Greenwich and weight lifting at Fred Unwin's club in Peckham.


With the outbreak of war Mick joined the Royal Air Force as Physical Training Instructor. He met the experienced Wigan wrestler Jimmy Rudd and the pair of them put on numerous wrestling exhibitions around the country. Posted to Australia in 1945 Mick we are told Mick asked the promoter at the Leichart Stadium in Sydney for a trial, resulting in his professional debut against a wrestler called Tommy Steele. Our Australian Heritage sleuths have found no evidence to prove the truth of this legend, but now such facts are of little importance.


On his return to Britain Mick and Percy Pitman opened a transport business, transporting goods from the docks. Percy encouraged Mick to take up wrestling professionally, and arranged a meeting with Les Martin of Dale Martin Promotions. The British professional debut that followed, against Chopper Howlett at Greeenwich Baths, was the start of a professional partnership between Mick and Dale Martin Promotions that was to span four decades. With wrestling commitments and lorry driving proving incompatible Mick and Percy Pitman sold their haulage business and opened a printing firm in Peckham. Their printing company specialised in printing wrestling programmes, posters and tickets for various wrestling promoters. Such was the success of the company they eventually found a successful buyer in Norman Morrell, the Bradford promoter.


Mick's wrestling career is well documented throughout the Wresting Heritage site, notably in The Man We Loved To Hate and On The Trail of Mick McManus. Here was a man totally dedicated to the wrestling business, illustrated on 20th December 1965 when he changed his birth name by deed poll to McManus.


Mick was undoubtedly the biggest name in professional wrestling for more than twenty years. He appeared on television more than any other wrestler, associated with royalty and stars of the entertainment world, supported numerous charitable causes, but first and foremost possessed a psychological capacity to control the emotions of hundreds of screaming wrestling fans.The famous scowl as Mick held the top rope and sneered at the jeering fans. The hands clutching the side of his head, protesting: “Not the ears, not the ears.” The alluring possibility that McManus might just be on the verge of defeat, but then a few underhand moves infuriatingly bringing yet another inevitable win. Or sometimes another victory because the man just seemed downright lucky. Every win was met with boos and derision of the fans, and a pledge to return next time when Mick might just lose.


Less known to fans at the time was his growing influence on the managerial side of Dale Martin Promotions. Here was a man the promoters could depend upon, and Mick's loyalty was rewarded by his appointment as matchmaker, putting together the bills and wielding the pen which could make or break careers. Mick was appointed a Director of Dale Martin Promotions, and in March 1971 a Director of Joint Promotions, a position he was to hold until 30th January, 1987.


All those who remember Mick McManus understand that his death really was the end of an era.


The Man We Loved To Hate


Spring Heeled and Surly in Armchair Corner on www.wrestlingheritage.com


The McManus-Pallo Feud on www.wrestlingheritage.com


On The Trail of Mick McManus on www.wrestlingheritage.com


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British wrestling history has a name - HERITAGE

May 22, 2018 at 3:03 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Reynard
Member
Posts: 18

What a nice tribute to Mick McManus. It's right that we remember him on this anniversary. Thank you.

May 22, 2018 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

The Riot Squad
Site Owner
Posts: 1495
Mick was the biggest name in wrestling. There was sadness at the time of his death and we were running the camaign for a honour for Mick. It's surprising to see so little response to this anniversary. Thank you Mark. Is Mick now just another ex dead wrestler?
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British wrestling history has a name - HERITAGE

May 23, 2018 at 2:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Ron Historyo
Member
Posts: 1913

I will add my tribute , this one always caught my eye.

SPEED WIZZARD


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HISTORYO

Time Detective and Multi Heritage Award Winner

May 23, 2018 at 4:04 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Anglo Italian
Moderator
Posts: 2099

Nice forties find, Ron.


Also interesting to trace is Mick's style of wrestling.  We are all familiar with his portly and ultimately tee-shirted physique.  But if we just see the famous 1962 McManus v Pallo bout we see him drop-kicking.


What was this weightlifting speed wizard like when he was on the way up in 1949, I wonder?

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Still trying to work out what was going on!

May 24, 2018 at 4:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jacko
Member
Posts: 23

I wonder how long matches actually lasted. These are all 6 ten minute rounds. Did the matches last any longer than in the 1960s.

May 25, 2018 at 5:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

ballymoss
Member
Posts: 153

At his peak, probably in the early to mid 1960's, Mick was the biggest draw in Wrestling.  He could fill any location, large or small, and although he had his shortcomings, he possessed star quality and charisma. Sadly he continued wrestling a little too long.

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May 26, 2018 at 12:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Anglo Italian
Moderator
Posts: 2099

I suspect his peak was much earlier.  I suspect his decline started after his first year ...

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Still trying to work out what was going on!

May 26, 2018 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

SaxonWolf
Member
Posts: 1882

As I have said before, it would have been a very interesting book, if Mick McManus had ever written his biography, but it was never to be.

May 30, 2018 at 7:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bill Smith
Member
Posts: 691

Micck was a real Star in the full sense of the word.Shame they couldn't replace him

May 30, 2018 at 8:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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