WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

has a name

Heritage

P: Proctor - Pye

Wrestling Heritage A - Z

Jack Proctor

Our knowledge of Jack Proctor is very limited, but we do know Heritage members would like to learn more. To date our members have ascertained Jack originated in Cornwall, wrestled in the 1950s most likely at light heavyweight, moved to the North East where he refereed for Norman Morrell.

The Professor

The early 1960s masked man was quite unique amongst the hooded brigade as he defeated all placed before him. Unique in that he was clean and scientific, unique in that....well, if you want to learn more, including his identity, you will need to take a look at the Top 20 Masked Men on www.wrestlingheritage.com.

Chic Purvey

 Born near Pitlochrie in 1927 Chic Purvey is fondly remembered by all fans of the Heritage years.

He was a tough, cunning, skilful middleweight who was one of the bad boys of the ring. Fans sometimes referred to him as the Scottish Mick McManus, but we think his style and wrestling skill made him a more three dimensional wrestler than his southern counterpart.

He had a bit of a wild look, and wild nature to match; we remember him as a wrestler always on the attack, giving opponents little time to catch their breath. Bernard Hughes remembers him as a wrestler who always gave good value, but was frequently matched with heavier opponents at the St James Hall, Newcastle.

With a background in fairground wrestling (grandmother was a fortune teller) and a successful amateur career he turned professional under the guidance of George Kidd; an odd couple indeed in pro wrestling circles.

Purvey went on to win the Scottish middleweight title from Les Cannon and in the early sixties regularly exchanged the middleweight title with Tommy Mann.

Chic and Tommy Mann exchanged the British title three times in bouts which are now almost legendary in wrestling folklore. Chic, who was at the lighter end of the middleweight division and gave away quite a few pounds, using his more aggressive style on those occasions that he overcame the Mancunian.

That aggressive style and unpredictable nature made him one of the more exciting wrestlers of the 1950s and 1960s; a man who fans loved to see on the bill, and loved to boo and jeer.

Eddie Rose remembers: "He was one of the most entertaining wrestlers of his day and some of his bouts with Tommy Mann were epic. After one such bout during which Purvey drew a lot of claret from Tommy's head, the Medical Officer at Belle Vue told me that he and his First Aiders treated 16 fans who had fainted during the bout! Tommy's blood and Chic's tenacious attacks to the bleeding wound on Mann's head were too much for faint hearts. Outside the ring, Chic was the most warm and welcoming guy you could hope to meet, Contrary to popular misconceptions about Scots, Chic was generous almost to a fault. He was always first to buy you a drink and was always happy to accept one in return.A great ambassador for Scotland and his native Perthshire, Chic graced and entertained British wrestling and was, in the words of Tommy Mann, 'a tough little bugger.' "

Chic Purvey passed away in November, 1996 at the much too early an age of 69.

Read our extended tribute: The Tartan Terrier

Bad Bill Pye

Unrelated to the famous Pye wrestling dynasty Bad Bill Pye was a villain of the independent circuit trained by Eric Pleasance, and later Brian Trevors in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although he was born in Lancashire Bill moved to Lowestoft whilst  a toddler. Other sporting interests included  boxing, he was a schoolboy champion, and rugby, but it was wrestling that Bill chose to pursue as a means of making his money.

The Norfolk based heavyweight worked mainly in the east of England and is best remembered for his partnership with John L. Hagger in The Stompers tag team.

Bully Pye

Another of the famous Pye clan, Frank Pye was the original Bully Pye, a nickname later assumed by brother Tommy in the post war years. 

Born in Wigan in 1916 Frank was one of the eleven children of Henry and Ellen Pye (nee Bennett). Frank moved to Stainforth near Doncaster whilst still a child, and it was here he learned the wrestling business alongside his brothers, the most notable of whom was Jack. All the Pye brothers would train at a local gym and at Jack's home in Stainforth. Frank saw the success of big brother Jack, making money in the wrestling ring which was much more preferable than working down the pit. 

He was determined to join him and turned professional in 1933 when he was just seventeen years old. From the start of his career he travelled widely, often accompanied by brother Jack. Like his brother Frank was highly volatile in the ring with little regard to the sophistication of the sport's rules and was soon credited with the name Bully. Our records indicate that it was his temperament, prolific appearances and reputation rather than technical ability that justify a place in the Top Wrestlers of the 1930s countdown. 

Some years ago we heard from Frank's son, James, who told us his father had married Rachel Greenall in Thorne in 1939, fathered James in 1941 and died in 1944. 

Dominic Pye

Dirty Dominic Pye was the son of the one of wrestling’s greatest post war exponents, the uncrowned King of the Mat, Jack Pye.

Like that famous parallel heir apparent Dominic was not content at spending his professional life in the shadows of his famous parent, but carved a niche of his own in his chosen career. Fans of the 1950s and 1960s remember Dominic Pye and the accompanying frenzy as he barnstormed his way around the rings of Britain and the world.

Dominic was a very hard man with a good amateur background. There are stories aplenty amongst the wrestling fraternity about Dominic. For instance, the time he upturned a car on Blackpool promenade because it was in front of one of his wrestling adverts, or when he invited boxer Brian London to sort out who was the hardest.

"Dominic was a man who seemed to worry about so many things," one big name heavyweight told us, "One night he was really heavy and bad tempered in the ring. It was one of his own shows. Suddenly a smile came over his face and he whispered, 'It's okay, I've remembered where I put the advanced booking money.' "

If Jack Pye was the Uncrowned King of the mat then Dominic was most certainly the Prince of Darkness. Read about him in the Shining Stars section.

Read our extended tribute: The Prince of Darkness

Harry Pye

Although he never reached the illustrious heights of his more famous brother Harry was a prolific worker and one of the top wrestlers of the 1930s.

Harry Pye followed brother Jack into the wrestling ring. Until then he had worked in a ring of another kind, boxing 63 professional contests. Some sources report Harry boxing until 1935, but he was certainly wrestling as early as 1933. Harry was no doubt attracted to the money that Jack was making as one of the country's top wrestlers.

Yes, he was a Pye, and that's probably enough to tell everyone enough about his style!

Bernard Hughes saw Harry in action, albeit post war, and recalls that although Harry could wind up the fans he could not match the rising fury achieved by Jack. "Trying to look and act villainous, but not really getting there”

When Harry entered the ring fans expected little in the way of scientific wrestling the sort of rough house tactics for which the family were famous. Nonetheless, in February, 1936 the Daily Worker reported, “Another interesting bout was between Val Cerino and Harry Pye. Maybe this will come as a surprise to many fans but Harry Pye is really learning how to wrestle. Harry Pye was the winner by two falls to one.” In November, 1934, we have a record of Harry beating Carver Doone by two falls to one, a giant of a man who must have outweighed him by many stones.

In one match against Harry Brooks it was reported that Pye grabbed his opponent by the hair, kneed him in the groin and tossed him over the top rope into the ringside seats; and all that was before the bell had rung!

Following the end of world war 2 continued wrestling the new freestyle rules until around 1960. By then he and his wife, Vera, had moved to Blackpool, as had Jack, and had a guest house. Harry also went into business with Jack managing the Horseshoe Club. If that wasn't enough in the mid sixties he was still spending his leisure time teaching youngsters how to box.


Jack Pye

Read our extended tribute: Top Wrestlers of the 1930s Jack Pye

Rough House Joe Pye

The younger generation of the Pye family; Joe's uncle was the Doncaster Panther himself, Jack Pye. He had a short lived career in the 1970s, opponents including Max Raeger and Honey Boy Zimba. After losing to Zimba by straight falls at Blackpool Tower in 1975 he reported "Zimba body slammed me eleven times."

Around 1970 we did see a wrestler (just the once) billed as Cousin Pye, tagging with Dominic. We've no idea whether he was the creation of the promoter, a family member, or could it have been Joe Pye?

As Joe still lives in Stainforth maybe he could get in touch with us!

Tommy Pye

Another member of the first family of wrestling, Tommy Pye was brother of Jack Pye. He turned professional in the second half of the 1930s and was a major figure in British wrestling for twenty years, with the same disregard for the rules as the rest of the Pye family. Following retirement he became landlord of The Greyhound Inn, in Boothstown, Lancashire.  Following the second world war Tommy assumed the name Bully Pye, made famous by brother Frank, who died in 1944.