Bill Blake was often billed as "Bearded" or "Big". A native of Newton-le-Willows, a rugby player and fan of St Helens.
Described as raw boned, Bill was a tough, hard competitor whose inner nature was sometimes diguised by a cheerful smiling face, even when he hit you! Billy's forearm smashes went in full whack and shook your breastbone against your spine. Bill was regular at the Black Panther gym in Manchester and made training nights somewhat uncomfortable for other wrestlers with his whole-hearted approach to sparring.
He ran his own business and this often kept his bookings to an easy reach of his home in Ashton-under-Lyne. He had some memorable tussles in the 60s & 70s with Monty Britton, Brendan Moriarty, Pete Lindberg, Paul Carpentier, Hillbilly Bert and Chief Thundercloud on whom he once turned the tables and KO-ed him with a Bill Blake version of the tomahawk chop much to the consternation of the audience (and Thunderbird himself).
Bill was a hundred and one percenter who never shirked an opponent and should have gone further except for business and family commitments.
"Always a man you were pleased to see ...and, good fun on a night out!" said Eddie Rose.
Spanish campaigner visited in 1955, 1956 and 1960, and claimant of the European Light Heavyweight Championship. Worked mainly in the south with occasional jaunts into Northern England.
Danish-Canadian light heavyweight Carl van Wurden encouraged Mancunian Jan Blears to take up wrestling. He trained at the Manchester YMCA and began appearing in British rings around 1942.
Blears wrestled during the war as much as his service in the merchant navy permitted. He was a radio operator during World War 2 whose ship, the SS TjIsalak was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
The Tjsisalak was a Dutch Freighter used by the Allies to transport supplies across the Indian Ocean.
The Sunday Times later reported (on 9th September, 1945) that 71 of the 76 crew were rescued and then deliberately murdered by the Japanese.
Jan Blears was one of the handful that escaped from the Japanese and reportedly ate a tin of peaches every March 29th because this was the food given to him by sailors after they rescued him from the Ocean.
Jan Blears continued wrestling in Britain until 1947 and then moved to the USA, living initially in California, and later Hawaii, where he was transformed into the villainous Lord James Blears, accompanied by his valet who wore a white tie and coat.
Heritage member Bernard Hughes remembers watching Lord James Blears at Newcastle when he returned to Britain in the late 1950s,
"Lord Jan Blears with his long blonde hair (a la Georgeous George) had his little manfriend carrying his comb (the comb was copied later by Gentleman Jim Lewis).
Following his long and successful wrestling career, which extended until 1972, Blears became a successful wrestling promoter in Hawaii and found new fans in a career as a television wrestling commentator.
In recent years Wrestling Heritage through his regular contact with Heritage favourite, Canadian Butts Giraud, who visited our shores around 1970.
His Lordship sent greetings to Heritage readers along with photos of himself and Butts from his hospital bed.
The photo on the right is of Peggy and Butts Giraud with James Blears' grandson.
Lord James Blears died, aged 92, on 5th March, 2016.
The bearded heavyweight goliath from Austria visited Britain for three months in 1957.
A big name of the big European tournaments in Germany and Austria.
George was a rugged and unorthodox opponent as he travelled up and down the country meeting top men such as Norman Walsh, Mike Marino, Dave Armstrong and Vic Hessle.
Matches also included a main event appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, with a loss to the popular Yorkshire man Dennis Mitchell.
Notice Mick McManus on the supporting bill.
One criticism that cannot be levelled against the promoters of the 1930s was a failure to import overseas wrestlers. At the start of the decade there was certainly a shortage of national talent and the rapid popularity of the sport resulted in visits from continental and North American stars.
Their quality was variable but Aimedee Blomme was a class act and Belgian heavyweight champion. He was a powerful 16 stone heavyweight who visited between 1932 and 1934.
The strength and brute force of the man made him a formidable opponent, and it was said in 1932 that he had provided British champion Atholl Oakeley with his sternest challenge.
Press reports said their match was “one of the greatest duels of strength pitted against craft that the new sport has produced.” For the most part the bulk and power of the Belgian champion overcame opponents such as the Golden Hawk, King Curtis, Jack Pye and Francis St Clair Gregory.
Sign in or sign up now to read Members Only articles: Top Overseas Wrestlers of the 1930s
Hailing from Holkham in Norfolk Andy Bloomfield turned professional in 1986 and worked until 1993. Although his appearances were mostly in East Anglia he did travel further afield working for Brian Dixon against a variety of opponents that included King Ben, Ian Wilson, Tony Stewart, Shane Stevens, Ivan Trevors, and Jimmy Ocean.
Andy retired from wrestling when he became disillusioned with the ever increasing use of gimmicks, though he did return a couple of years ago as the Russian lightweight Vladimir Volkov!
These days Andy finds it far more satisfying leading wildlife tours. He wrote ‘Birds of the Holkham Area’ in 1993 and made major contributions to ‘The Birds of Norfolk’ (1999) and ‘The Turn of the Tide‘ (2005) as well as contributing to a range of ornithological journals.