M: Martinsen - Matsuda
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
The Danish heavyweight, and one time European Heavyweight champion, is best remembered for wrestling his way through to the final of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament held at Harringay in 1947.
In the final, held on March 4th 1947, he lost by a KO to Britain’s Bert Assirati, in a bout refereed by Lou Marco. On the way to the final he had beaten Phil Siki, Karl Reginsky and Bert Mansfield. Martinsen In the return contest, fought in Paris in October of the same year, Martinsen took the title from Assirati. The photo on the right shows Martinsen and the boot of Reginsky in their semi final clash at Harringay.
In 1952 Yvar defeated Felix Miquet to claim the European version of the World Heavyweight Championship. He is said to have taken part in the first ever tag match in France, around 1955, partnering Francois Miquet against Eddie Brush and Jack Wentworth. Yvar Martinsen passed away on 22nd July, 1975.
Billed as the “Dockland’s strong boy” 1950s and 1960s heavyweight working for independent promoters mainly in the south and midlands of England.
Opponents included top opposition men such as Tiger Ed Bright, Mike Demitre and Ron Harrison.
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THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Many years ago, it must have been in the 40s, the Ideal Skating Rink was the predecessor of the Victoria Hall as the main wrestling venue in Stoke-on-Trent.
During a bitterly contested feud between The Red Mask and the Blue Mask which had gone on for ages without spectator intrerest flagging, it was decided that that would wrestle every consecutive night until there was a clearcut winner.
It started on a Monday night and ended on the Friday with the Red Mask winning and the Blue Mask unmasking and revealing himself as Bob Silcock.
When Masambula was on the bill there was no doubt who fans would be talking about as they left the hall. Talking with smiles on their faces.
Here was a man who made a big impression.
The full length leopardskin, the huge grin, the celebratory headstand on the corner post, the straggly limbs that seemed unconnected, the large rolling eyes with the hint of voodoo magic, the ready quips; Masambula gave us much to talk about.
Tragically injured in a ring accident Masambula passed away at the time the Wrestling Heritage site launched.
Bernard Hughes told us: "The first time that Masambula came to Newcastle, he was driven by Norman Morrell in ( I think it was) a Lincoln convertible,-colour, Pearl green, with a huge boot. Out of the huge boot came a tea chest which I was told contained a tribal headdress. It was like a carnival Big Head. That was worn into the ring together with the leopard skin leotard. The Big Head was rapidly dropped because of the smaller boot space in British cars."
It was fitting that he had already been selected as one of our inaugural Shining Stars, and his extended tribute can be read on this site. The King of Charisma, the title says it all.
Read our extended tribute: The King of Charisma
Not the most imaginative of names for a masked man, but that didn't prevent a successful eight year reign that lasted from 1958 until 1966. A tall, lean heavyweight the Black mask was dressed head to toe in black, even his eyes being difficult to distinguish. An alleged aversion to having his legs touched (a bit of a handicap for a wrestler we would think), would see the Black Mask heading for the ropes whenever an apponent went for them. In anticipation of such an occurrence fans would scream "Get his legs, get his legs."Find out more, including the famous face beneath the hood, in the Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.
The awesome shaven headed assassin is remembered with affection by fans and fellow wrestlers alike.
Essex wrestler Neil Sands told us, "He was without doubt one of the best,but most under used and under rated heavyweights of the last thirty years. He had it all, the looks, the size, amazing athletic ability, (he could take awesome bumps) great timing, and a pro to his finger tips."
Eddie Rose added that Crusher was "A lovely man with whom to work and a great gee-er up of audiences." We can't say there was no one else like him because Crusher (Brian) based his ring persona on his long term mentor and friend, Danny Lynch. Such a statement does him an injustice, however, because Crusher was very much a top rate villain in hs own right. He partnered Lynch as one of the Assassins, and was at times billed as Butch Lynch or the Mighty Chang Not to be confused with Milton Reed, the original Mighty Chang
We can't say there was no one else like him because Crusher (Brian) based his ring persona on his long term mentor and friend, Danny Lynch. Such a statement does him an injustice, however, because Crusher was very much a top rate villain in hs own right. He partnered Lynch as one of the Assassins, and was at times billed as Butch Lynch or the Mighty Chang
Not to be confused with Milton Reed, the original Mighty Chang
Italian and European heavyweight champion visited Britain for the first time in 1951 and returned just about every year until 1962, with wins over top class opposition such as Joe Cornelius, Frank Manto and Mike Marino.
Here was a man who knew every rule in the book, and a good few more besides it seems.
Always associated with Italy, he was born in Genoa, Mario actually lived in Belgium, where his family owned an ice cream business. Programme shows a European heavyweight championship match working for promoter Atholl Oakeley.
Japanese ju jitsu exponent visited Britain wrestled in Britain during 1933-35 and caused interest by wrestling barefooted and by letting out a loud cry each time he threw his opponent. This seemed to be a frequent occurrence as Matsuda held a good record against big name opposition, a ferociousness which was belied by his placid demeanour.
On one occasion he was reported to have “made mincemeat” of Jack Pye, twice forcing the Doncaster Panther into submission. His British visit was said to be part of a world tour financed by his rich merchant father.
Whilst in Britain Matsuda was engaged by Oxford university to teach ju jitsu. Weighing only 12 and a half stones Matsuda had good wins over skilful opponents such as Sam Rabin and heavier men including Jack Pye.