WRESTLING HERITAGE

A hobby site created by enthusiasts of 
British wrestling celebrating wrestling and 
wrestlers from 1930 onwards through 
fifty glorious years of British wrestling history

L: Lawrence - Lee

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Clem Lawrence

Chelmsford's Clem Lawrence was a bit on the light side at 14 stones to get in the ring with some of the bigger heavyweights, but his technical ability made him more than a match for most. Born Peter Wade, he was the brother of Essex and England cricketer Tom Wade.
 
Clem's muscular physique gave him the name “The Adonis of the Ring.” As the newly introduced All-In rules began to gain popularity Clem turned professional in 1932 and for the rest of the decade was one of the busiest of wrestlers, working most nights of the week mainly in the south but travelling north on occasions.
 
He was one of the first wrestlers to appear on British television, on 6th June, 1939, against Northumberland's Dave Armstrong. The outbreaks of war brought a halt to tv wrestling, tv and Clem's career. He was conscripted into the army where he rose to the rank of major and fought in the El Alamein campaign.
 
Clem returned to the ring following the war, now travelling northwards far more frequently. Clem Lawrence took part in the 1947 World Heavyweight Championship Tournament at Harringay Stadium, promoted by Atholl Oakeley, going out in the first round when he lost by the odd fall against Carl Reginsky.
 
Clem failed in his British heavyweight championship challenges against Bert Assirati in September, 1947, and again in November, 1949, but losses to the Islington Hercules should not lessen his reputation. Clem reduced his wrestling commitments in 1953 and finally retired in 1957.
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Granville Lawrence

Muscular and moustachioed Granville Lawrence was a popular and well respected wrestler of the 1940s and 1950s. Granville forsook his family name of Wade but was unrelated to Clem Lawrence (above) Barnsley's Granville Lawrence was "A fantastic wrestler." Don't take our word for it, but that of Sam Betts, better known to wrestling fans as Dwight J. Ingleburgh.

Coming from Barnsley it's hardly surprising that Granville was a graduate of Charlie Glover and his Junction gymnasium. Granville was born in 1921 and was a good friend of Harry Broadfield, who wrestled as Harry Fields. However, it wasn't to wrestle that Granville went along to the Junction, but as a boxer. Boxing was Granville's first love, but as so often happened at the Junction Granville joined the wrestlers for a tussle and the rest became history. 

Granville took to the wrestling and was soon held in high esteem by his Junction compatriots as a technically accomplished wrestler. He wrestled the best in the business, Carlton Smith Jack Dempsey, Mick Mcmanus, and beat them. Charlie Glover was impressed, and gave Granville the task of teaching "his lad, our Brian" how to wrestle.

"Our Brian," of course was to learn something from Granville as he was to become northern favourite Leon Arras.

Tony Lawrence

A blast from the past.

The clever Dundee welterweight Tony Lawrence made his way from Scotland to London and seemed to be everywhere on the British wrestling scene.

In November 1952, with Joint Promotions establishing their nationally recognised champions, Tony defeated Alan Colbeck at Newcastle to gain recognition as British welterweight championship.

A rivalry with John Foley saw  resulted in three successful defences for the Scot against the Lancastrian until Wigan's Jack Dempsey claimed the crown.

Tony continued battling against the best, a nationwide worker for Joint Promotions, until 1963.

Larry Laycock

Following the second world war Larry "Whiskers" Laycock left the Royal Marines to take up chicken farming in Doncaster and professional wrestling. He was a regular on the bills of the midlands, northern England and Scotland until the mid 1950s and wrestled the big names of the day such as Dave Armstrong, Ken Davies and Jack Pye. We would welcome more information.

Gustav Le Brun

 Gustav Le Brun was the ring name of Arthur Heaton of Blackpool. He was a Science teacher in Manchester and was “persuaded” into professional wrestling by Eddie Rose for two reasons: firstly he was a very fit rugby player and secondly he looked like a cross between Omar Sharif and Alan Miquet, the very popular Huddersfield welterweight. Gustav Le Brun was the name of a well-liked teacher at Arthur’s own school in Blackpool.

After a lengthy apprenticeship at the Black Panther gym in Manchester where he was coached by Grant Foderingham, Arthur made his debut versus Eddie Rose on a local charity show in 1969 with an impressive six round draw. He went on with an unbeaten sequence for his first dozen bouts against Pete Lindberg, Roy Fortuna, Mark Wayne and other local wrestlers. He impressed audiences with his fast, clean-cut, scientific style.

His first loss came versus Bruce Welch at Rothesay in Scotland. Promoters then paired him with Mark Wayne in tag matches billed as the best looking tag team in the North and was matched against the Red Devils, the Masked Baron & his Henchman, the Flying Scots, the Spidermen and other long-forgotten combinations.

His best bouts were with Rose, as mentioned, “Mad Dog” Wilson and a notable tussle with Jack Dempsey that he lost to Dempsey’s special move, the single leg Boston Crab in the final round of a special challenge match at the Houldsworth Hall in Manchester.

Fate took a hand and Gustav suffered several bad injuries, initiated by Dempsey and the damage to his knee from the submissions in his bout with the Wigan wrestler. He never regained full fitness and his form suffered leading to a premature retirement from wrestling in 1973; a sad end to a very promising start.

Last heard of, he had returned to Blackpool where he worked in a private car hire business.

George Leddington

George Leddington was part of a very active wrestling scene around Birmingham and the Black Country in the 1960s. A youngster in Bilston, a couple of miles southeast of Wolverhampton, George was always interested in sport and was a keen amateur footballer.

His interest in wrestling led to George turning professional in 1962, his earliest matches being for Oakdale Promotions and Highland Entertainments.

Twice winner of Oakdale's "Wrestler of the Month" established promoters signed him up and soon he was wrestling for Cyril Knowles, Jerry Jeary, Lew Philips and other independent promoters. Philips promoted weekly at Digbeth Civic Hall, one of George's favourite halls in Birmingham city centre. Another enjoyable venue for George was Dudley Hippodrome, which also put on weekly shows in the early 1960s, and was the home to one of his most memorble matches, against Birmingham's Deep River.

Considering how much he worked the name George Leddington was less known that might have been expected, this was a result of his identity often being hidden as he was billed as  "The Red Devil," who unusally for the name was not a masked wrestler.   At the time of taking his place in Wrestling Heritage George still lives in the West Midlands and enjoys supporting his favourite football team, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The poster above features George against Brummie Pete Evans at George's favourite hall.

Gilbert Leduc

World class French mid heavyweight, erstwhile world champion, made a number of visits to Britain, usually of a short duration. His first visit, to northern England  was in 1949, numerous short visits during the 1950s and finally tours for Paul Lincoln Management in 1964 and 1965.

 

During those 1960s visits he met a young heavyweight from Winchester by the name of Dave Larsen. A few years later Dave moved to work in France and met up once again with Gilbert. The two of them tagged together on occasions, and are seen in partnership in the photo on the right.

Kiwi Dean Lee

Heavyweight Dean Lee visited Britain in 1971, though he was apparently just returning home as we were told at the time that he had been born in Britain and moved to New Zealand in 1963.

Trained by John Da Silva in New Zealand he had wrestled in Australia and Japan before being encouraged to wrestle in Britain by British wrestlers visiting New Zealand. 

He returned later in the decade working mainly for the independent promoters, particularly in the north for Ace Promotions and Cyril Knowles.

Wrestler Al Marshall is presently trying to contact Dean who he remembers from his wrestling days in the north.

Kwik Kick Lee

Britain has a long tradition as a training ground for youngsters from overseas that goes back to the 1930s.

Not as acrobatic as his namesake, Sammy, young Kwik Kick (Akira Maeda)  came to Britain in 1982 and 1983 where his not inconsiderable natural skill was regrettably placed on the back burner in matches against  Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. 

After taking the bumps against the biggest and baddest of Britain's big and bad Lee returned to Japan where he established himself as one of the country's top wrestlers and promoters.

He allegedly fell out of favour with Japanese promoters when he began to take the combative element of the sport just a little bit too seriously!  

Tiny Pat Lee

 

Tiny Pat Lee was a  young lightweight who worked in the north and Scotland during the late sixties and 1970s. By no means a big name he was surprisingly featured twice in The Wrestler magazine, so they certainly had high hopes for the boy.

As far as we know those high hopes remained unfulfilled.

Trained by Leon Arras he worked for the independent promoters before being signed up by George deRelwyskow for Joint Promotions.

Tagged with Tom Jowett as The Dons, with reference to their home town of Doncaster.

 

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Sammy Lee

Sammy Lee was unknown to ritish fans when he came to our shores but his speed and agility led to an immediate acceptance by the UK fans. 

Flying head scissors, dropkicks and a succession of leg executed throws following one after the other at bewildering speed  made the young Japanese wrestler unique in British rings. 

Sammy Lee was trained by Karl Gotch, the American based Belgian who had learned his trade from the Wigan wrestlers in the 1950s. Unsurprisingly Lee was chosen as a frequent tag partner of Big Daddy, but we won't hold that against him. 

The name Lee was bestowed on him, real name Satoru Sayama, to capitalise on the martial arts film star BruceLee.

On returning to Japan Lee took to wearing a mask and became Tiger Mask, going on to become a legend of Japanese professional wrestling.

Ski Hi Lee

 

In a sport where giants are two a penny the Texan heavyweight with unruly hair that  matched  his wrestling style stood head and shoulders above the rest. 6’10” heavy-drinking heavyweight from Houston Texas who was a regular rabble rouser in Britain through the mid sixties.  

A former circus strongman and rancher, bewhiskered and bewhiskyed Lee featured regularly on Paul Lincoln bills, as well as in The Man From Uncle.  

Born in 1921 as Robert E Leedy, Ski Hi Lee had been a two-time NWA Canadian Heavyweight champion in the early fifties before coming to Britain.  Tagged occasionally with Swiss Rene Lasartesse.  

Eddie Rose recalls: “One night in Tommy Mann's Club Roma (Manchester) Ski Hi Lee took centre stage with a series of stunts including eating a razor blade, chewing a light bulb, and, for the grand finale, he took off his shirt and borrowed a lipstick from a woman and asked her to draw a target on his back. He then produced a set of darts and invited her to throw them into the target on hid back. He did all of this without a grimace or wince of pain. He then put his shirt back on and started drinking again. He had a reputation as a consumer of large amounts of whisky. 

When not eating razor blades and letting his back be used as a dartboard, it was out of character Lee who represented the wrestling fraternity at West End charity gala nights.