L: Larsen - Law
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
The wunderkind of the Paul Lincoln set-up seemed headed for high places as 1966 dawned.
Battersea born, Kent based, middleweight wrestler Billy La Rue turned professional in 1969 following a stint in the merchant navy and became a regular on the southern independent circuit.
Billy was trained by former wrestler and promoter Frank Price at his Canterbury gym before undergoing his wrestling apprenticeship, facing the likes of Tony Scarlo who he held in high esteem.
Having worked the independent circuit for a few years Billy attracted the attention of bigger promoters and moved across to Joint Promotions in the early 1970s.
He went on to work for Joint Promotions around Britain and throughout the rings of Europe.
The blond Australian bombshell strutted and preened himself as he enraged the fans on the way towards frequent disqualification.
As the bell rang for the first round little changed and the already hostile fans would become even more enraged as he preferred to pose rather than wrestle.
Heavyweight Maurice La Rue came to Britain in 1970 as part of a world tour which included North America, the Far East and South America. In his native Australia he had been known known as Murphy the Surfie and Murphy the Magnificent.
To his mum he was Norman.
Despite having been Australian light heavyweight champion La Rue’s wrestling skill was rarely in evidence as he over-relied on rule bending tactics. It was the disqualification exit when we saw him opposing Les kellett, Judo Al Hayes and Pete Roberts.
The man behind the hair colouring was Australian Norman Lowndes, who returned to the UK in the 1980s under a very different guise with the name Wild Red Berry (not to be confused with the American wrestler of the same name).
Following his retirement he settled into a well earned retirement in Florida.
Graham Brooks Remembers Maurice La Rue
Although I only saw him twice in the early seventies, Maurice La Rue made a huge impact upon me. His colourful costume, his arrogant strut, his preening and disregard for the audience. Fantastic! The first time I saw him was at The Gaiety Theatre, Rhyl, on a Wryton show. His opponent was Terry O'Neil. This was long before his Skinhead days and O'Neil was the blue eye.
The second time I saw La Rue was in a tag match at The kings Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester. La Rue was partnered by Steve Haggetty and they fought to a twenty minute time lim it draw against Tony St.Clair and Johnny Eagles. It was a Morrell and Beresford show and was the final one of the year before Belle Vue gave its Kings Hall space over to Bertram Mills circus for the Christmas period. The circus ring had already been set up with the wrestling ring inside it so this meant that the wrestlers were further away from the punters than usual and I recall La Rue particularly using the extra performance space this allowed him to create mayhem.
La Rue returned many years later in the Max Crabtree era when he reappeared as "Wild" Red Berry managing and occasionally tagging with Mississippi Mauler "Big" Jim Harris (Kumala in WWE). I didn't recognise him at first as he seemed considerably smaller. Nor did he raise in me the same level of excitement. Perhaps it's just because I was older and, having promoted my own shows in the interim, a lot of the magic had disappeared.
Roy La Rue was another of the Jack Taylor Leicestershire stable of wrestlers, training and working alongside his good friend Al Tarzo and Spike O'Reilly. Roy was one of Jack's first "finds" when he opened his training street in Eldon Street, Langley Mills, working alongside Jack for quite a few years before Jack began promoting.
Around 1956 Jack decided that it was time for Roy to make his professional debut, and Jack's creative mind changed the ordinary sounding Ron Houseman into the more colourful Roy LaRue. The story goes, and this is from another Taylor protege, Al Tarzo,
"Jack was in his kitchen putting together one of his first wrestling bills and dreaming up colourful names. He got to Ron's name and was a bit devoid of an idea then he happened to look across the kitchen and looked at the gas cooker. "BINGO" it was a La Rue, there you have it."
Within a short time Roy was working regularly for the opposition promoters with opponents including Eddie Capelli, Jack Taylor, Frank O'Donnell and, of course, Al Tarzo. He was a fans' favourite wherever he appeared, with a large following at the Granby Halls, Leicester. Roy was heavily involved in the formation of a wrestlers union and this may well have had a negative impact on his career progression.
Roy and Al had been close friends for many years, working together in the coal mines as well as promoting. Roy was Godfather to Al's eldest daughter. Unfortunately Al and Roy lost contact a few years ago and Al would very much like to make contact once again, "The last I heard was he was planning to sail around the world and was looking for an all female crew!"
Stamping Jack Lasar, the arrogant strutting villain of the 1960s had something of an identity crisis.
Here was a man of many names and almost as many nationalities. We think we've got it sorted!
In Britain Stamping Jack Lasar was billed as the American villain who would taunt his opponent, mercillesly punishing him to antagonise the crowds.
In America he would equally enrage fans but was known as Ludwig Van Krupp. To the Germans he was Frenchman Rene Lasartesse, whilst to the French fans he was a German.
None of these names or nationalities bore any resemblance to the truth.
He was actually Edouard Probst, born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1928.
His career spanned thirty five years, beginning in 1953 and concluding in 1988 as he neared his sixtieth birthday.
International success came in 1958 when he worked in the United States.
Canadian heavyweight Jack Laski made a six month visit to Britain during the winter of 1956-7 and returned once again the following year.
Between times he wrestled in Austria and Germany. Opponents included Jack Pye, Mike Marino, Count Bartelli, Francis St Clair, Ray Apollon on television and Royal Albert Hall bouts against Ray Hunter and Black Butcher Johnson.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information.
What have the following in common - Judo Al Hayes, George Kidd, Paul Lincoln, Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Billy Robinson, Dave Boy Smith and Hans Streiger?
Answer: They all had obituaries written in the Daily Telegraph
The twenty stones French villain who appeared fleetingly in Britain at the start of the seventies.
Born in 1934, Kitione Lave, the Tongan Terror or Tongan Torpedo, was certainly one of the finest boxers to enter the wrestling ranks. Lave outstrips even the important George Nuttall, the original Black Mask, in having defeated British favourite Nosher Powell. Nuttall had been unable to overcome Powell in their Royal Albert Hall encounter. Kitione Lave was only outpointed by the great Brian London and had actually put away British Champion Don Cockell in the second round of their encounter (below) - and Cockell had gone 9 rounds with the undefeated Rocky Marciano.
The famous fifties Queen of Tonga followed Lave’s career closely and also employed him at her palace.
Famous wrestling venue St James’s Hall Newcastle was the 1960 scene of a controversial boxing match where the referee stopped the fight deeming that both Lave and his Ghanaian opponent were “not giving of their best”.
Due to Lave’s passion for casinos, during his decade in Britain, Lave didn’t wrestle far from his main business interest in Sheffield, and could easily slip under the radar of less than attentive British wrestling historians. Kitione served in the RAF, ran a gym at the base, a nightclub in Sheffield and even played a few games for Doncaster’s rugby league team. He returned to New Zealand in 1972 with his English wife, Patricia, who he had married in 1957.
Kitione Lave passed away in 2006.
Yorkshire based Shaun Lavery was from Northern Irish stock.
He could be seen on the independent circuit of the 1970s, working mostly for Cyril Knowles.
Shaun was later signed up for Joint Promotions using the name Shaun Falcon. More information welcomed.
Please get in touch if you can provide more information
Tayside's Ian Law was a late 1970's challenger for Johnny Saint's World lightweight crown and the man credited for training Drew McDonald. In the mid 1980s Ian was laying claim to the world welterweight championship and took part in blood baths with Rollerball Rocco.