WRESTLING HERITAGE

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M: Maxine - McCormack

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Rex Maxine (Max Rexine, Freddie Rex, Rexine, Ted Elliott)

A man of mystery. Discussions of Rex Maxine through the years had yielded little information until his family got in touch to provide some details. We knew that he had been an active worker from 1937 until the early 1950s, had used used a variety of names, but that was about all. Rex Maxine, Freddie Rex, Max Rexine, the use of so many names obscures the significance of this man during his fifteen year career. 

Not in the Bert Assirati or Douglas Clark class the records that exist suggest that here was a man who could hold his own with the likes of Vic Hessle, Frank Manto and Tarzan Hunter.  Wrestling fans understand that pro wrestling isn't just about winning. Here was a man who could get work all over the country, and lots of it.

Whatever the name on the poster the promoters of the 1930s doggedly stuck to a place of origin, Bulgaria (with an occasional variation of Australia, South Africa or the USA). We know promoters were economical with the truth, but Bulgaria? Where did this come from?  The family had no idea either. They assured us Rex Maxine was Yorkshire born and bred, there was no connection with Bulgaria, Australia or South Africa.  

Born in Wombwell, a small town five miles from Barnsley, in 1906 with a birth name of John Leonard Bradbury, he was known to family and friends as Len.

In 1926 he married and the couple celebrated the birth of a son two years later. A second child was born  in 1930, followed by tragedy when Len's wife, Doris, died a few weeks later. Tragedy struck again, in 1931, with the death of Len's fourteen month old daughter.  

By this time Len was boxing around south Yorkshire, already with an assumed name, Freddie Rex. We first find him in March, 1931, beating Billy Rodgers on points at the Empire Palace, Grimethorpe. . In 1933 we come across him on a combined boxing and wrestling show, where he beat Young Devaney in a boxing match where the bill was topped by his neighbour, Jack Pye, in a wrestling contest.

We come across the name Freddie Rex on wrestling posters in  May, 1937, and Rex Maxine in October of the same year. The two names appear on bills simultaeneously throughout the 1940s, along with the occasional Rexine and other variations. Different names in different halls it seems. 

Then there was Ted Ellliott. We can find only eleven recorded bouts for Ted Elliott, all of them at Preston. Then on his twelfth appearance, on 1st September, 1939, we find Preston promoters advertising Rex Maxine (formerly Ted Elliott). So it seems we can add another name to the list.

In a match against the stylish Costas Astreos the newspaper reported, "A tip top bout was that between Costas Astreos, of Greece, and Freddie Rex, of Doncaster. The first and second rounds were drawn. Rex took the third with a body slam and press in 1 minute and 5 seconds. The Greek took the third with a body press in 2 minutes 27 seconds. The fifth and sixth rounds were drawn and he contest ended with a draw of one fall each."

In the 1940s the promoters dropped the nonsense of Bulgaria and Aussie Maxine, giving credit to the county of his birth. The last match we uncovered was in June, 1951, wrestling Mike Marino.

Grandaughter Sarah, who joined us in the forum, said. "I have many fond memories of the big man, he was deaf as a post due to his enormous cauliflower ears, but we always had a giggle."

Len Bradbury, also known as Rex Maxine and others,  died in 1992.

Earl "Mr. Universe" Maynard

Barbados born heavyweight Earl Maynard was a wrestler with muscles on his muscles. A wrestler with a fine physique who took up body-building  as a  seventeen year old in 1954.  He won the Mr Europe title in 1959, Mr England in 1960, Mr Universe Pro in 1964, and 1978 Mr America title. Not bad considering that he weighed under ten stones when he  moved to England aged eighteen years. Shortly afterwards he was called up for national service and after serving in the Royal Air Force Earl turned professional wrestler in 1962. He went on to become one of the most popular and successful sixties wrestlers in Britain and Europe before finding even greater success in the United States. Twice American Tag Champion (with Rocky Johnson and Dory Dixon) Earl was listed as one of the WWE top wrestlers of all time.  Following his retirement from wrestling Earl turned to acting, and appeared in many films before turning to film producing and directing.


Jim McCormack

Jim McCormack's father was a Scot, a tenant farmer who moved to England to work for the Marquess of Londonderry at his stately home, Wynyard Park.


In the ring Jim was an impressive sight, and that was before he started wrestling. There were more than a few comments from the crowd as the kilted Jim entered the hall, resplendent in his red trunks and boots with white socks. A nice touch those boots. Red to match the trunks with a slit to expose the white socks. This was the sort of attention to detail that impressed the old time  promoters, as well as the fans, and established professional wrestling as a legitimate sport.


Jim, a middleweight of around thirteen stones with black wavy hair,  would leap over the top rope, a clear indication of the excitement to follow. He was trained by Jim Stockdale, a man known for establishing discipline in his young proteges, and was a popular worker for independent promoters in the late  1970s and into the early 1980s. 


"Clean and clever" was one of those overused, often meaningless phrases used by promoters on their posters. In the case of Jim McCormack it was true. A skilful wrestler he always wrestled within the rules and was popular with fans for his fast, all action style. A whirlwind in fact, agile and athletic if thrown out of the ring he would leap right back in.


It was a style usually, but not always, appreciated by opponents. They enjoyed wrestling him because of his enthusiasm, agility and professionalism, but others said he could be difficult to handle in the ring, with one saying that wrestling Jim was like wrestling a JCB.


In the 1980s, as wrestling's popularity was going into decline, Jim was one of the many who drifted out of the wrestling scene. Gone, but remembered by fans of the north.