Lees - Letchford
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
Memories of John Lees are of a fine wrestler who never quite made it to the first division and television commentator Kent Walton drooling over his muscular frame. No offence intended to either men, who were both excellent practitioners in their own field. Lees did indeed have a muscular frame, which led to numerous body building achievements, culminating in the 1957 Mr Universe title. Turning his attention to wrestling he turned professional in 1959. In the wrestling ring he was a fine wrestler who lacked the flair to lift him to the very top. Remember, though, that this was an age when the heavyweight division was brimming with talent, and although he may never have been number one John Lees was more than capable of holding his own with the likes of Joyce, Robinson, Davies, Wall, and anyone else you care to mention.
Billed as French heavyweight champion as he wrestled up and down the land between 1936-9; we don't know if he was honoured in the same way across the channel. Was oddly allowed to challenge for the British Empire title. Work that out. It might well have been because he was Canadian!
See the entry for Ken Davies
French welterweight visited Britain in the mid 1980s. Jacques made two television appearances; the first an impressive straight falls win over Ray Crawley in December 1985, followed a few weeks later when he failed to capture Danny Collins European welterweight title when he lost by the odd fall.
The globetrotting Italian heavyweight visited Britain in November, 1954, wrestling Britain's best, including Norman Walsh and Farmer Johnny Allan.
Le Petit Prince
Diminutive French lightweight who caused a stir on his trips to the UK in the early seventies. He looked tiny and unthreatening as he climbed through the ropes. All that changed when the bell rang and he unleashed a dazzling assault on his opponent. The combined qualities of wrestling skill, acrobatics, speed and looks made him enormously poular wherever he appeared. The man from Audincourt near the Swiss border had an amateur wrestling and gymnastics background and combined the two to give acrobatic displays that left many heavier opponents bewildered. Feuded in England with Zoltan Boscik, honours ending up largely even.
In 1966 he had the honour of being the first ever opponent in a televised match of young French giant Jean Ferre. At 6'11" and still growing, youngster Ferre was double the size of Le Petit Prince.
His real name was given in Britain as Alberic D'Ericourt but Wrestling Heritage can reveal it was in fact Daniel Dubail.
Middlesbrough's Ray Leslie trained at St Lukes, Middlesborough, under the guidance of mid heavyweight champion Norman Walsh. He was one of a team of wrestlers known as the St Lukes Matmen (founded by Freddy Dawson) who often put on wrestling shows in aid of charity. After working throughout the north and Scotland for the first couple of years of his career he moved south in 1962 lured by the cheque book of independent promoter Paul Lincoln. Ray returned to Joint Promotions in 1964 and we enjoyed cheering him on before disappearing from our rings around 1967.
Maurice Letchford (Litchford)
Maurice Letchford was born in Pretoria, South Africa on 27th August, 1908.He moved to Canada, living in Montreal, and took Canadian Citizenship. Selected for the Canadian wrestling team in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics he won a bronze medal an the Freestyle welterweight division. Shortly following his Olympics success thoughts turned to a professional career and he made his first visit to Britain in 1931, famed for his Indian Death Lock hold, and helping to establish the new rules in the United Kingdom. His first visit to this country lasted the whole of 1931, returning to Canada, but was then back here to set up home in 1935, returning to Canada at the outbreak of war. Maurice returned to this country following the second world war where he continued wrestling and promoting until the mid 1950s. He later returned to South Africa where he became one of the country's top promoters. Maurice Letchford died in South Africa on 15 August 1965, aged 57.