T: Lou Thesz
A Legend in Our Midst
Lou Thesz was the most illustrious visitor to British shores for many years, and his eagerly awaited debut in the country's premier wrestling venue, the Royal Albert Hall, was followed by an intensive tour of the country in which he wrestled many of the heavyweight stars of the British scene.
Unsurprisingly Thesz left our shores remaining undefeated, though a few of our top stars were able to boast of holding possibly the greatest heavyweight of all time to a draw.
The most eagerly anticipated wrestling visitor to British shores during the post war years Lou Thesz was six times NWA World Heavyweight Champion and considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight wrestler of all time.
He arrived in
Not the most colourful or most exciting wrestler in post war British wrestling Mike Marino must be recognised as one of the all time greats. Here was a wrestler’s wrestler, a man who we don’t recall any other wrestler doing anything but praise. He was World Mid Heavyweight Champion, had the distinction of topping the bill at the Royal Albert Hall more times than anyone else and had the truly amazing distinction of defeating Mick McManus and Big Daddy on the same night. His death in 1981 came as a shock to
A tough as nails Welsh heavyweight who turned professional in the 1940s, though he later moved to
The powerful heavyweight from Shipley, Yorkshire, was a champion at both Mid Heavyweigt and Heavyweight and then went on to gain even greater success in the
Dirty Jack Pye
Dirty Jack Pye
Jack Pye, the Doncaster Panther, was the blueprint of British wrestling villains. He was a man who was in at the start of the British all-in wrestling era which began in 1930 and later transformed himself into the big name villain of the post war era. He was a master of the blind side of the referee moves and no one strutted around the ring taunting the crowd like Dirty Jack. He had two attempts at Lou Thesz, one of them at the world famous Liverpool Stadium, where he was almost a weekly feature, and the second was in
Dara Singh was rated by wrestling historian Charles Mascall as the tenth greatest heavyweight wrestler of all time. This heavyweight champion from Amristar had arrived in the
Here was a skilful wrestler who could hold his own with the best, including World heavyweight champion, Lou Thesz, when the papi
r met in
Big Bill Verna
When he came to the
Another of those wrestlers who combined their careers with farming. Middlesborough’s Norman Walsh was a rough, tough, mid heavyweight who was a long time holder of the British mid Heavyweight title. Like other Northerners he had an aggressive style that fans sometimes confused with villainy, and a villain he was not. A car crash in 1963 put Walsh out of action for many months but he returned to establish his supremacy once again until retiring in the mid 1960s. Career highlights must include Royal Albert Hall wins over Ricky Waldo and Felix Gregor and losses to Lou Thesz in
The Mystery of the Title
Lou Thesz came to
Thesz had lost to Edourado Carpentier the previous June, the 14th to be precise. The NWA ruled that the title could not changed hands as a result of a disqualification, and continued to recognise Thesz. Carpentier’s victory was recognised by the states of
Thesz defeated Carpentier (by a disqualification) in the return contest on
On November 14th Dick Hutton beat Thesz, inToronto, and was recognised by the NWA as their new world champion. This meant that Thesz did not hold any US recognised version of the World Heavyweight Championship when he started his world tour which included the
In 1967 Lou Thesz and Dara Singh returned to Britain, working for the independent promoters. They wrestled each other on three occasions for promoters Tony Scarlo and Gordon Corbett, with Tony refereeing each contest.
The first venue was at the Lyceum Ballroom in the Strand, and many of the big named British Wrestlers paid to see both these wrestling greats, amongst them Mike Marino, Judo Al Hayes, Rebel Ray Hunter, Sky Hi Lee, and Wayne Bridges. The second contest was at Bradford, with a capacity partisan crowd backing Dara. The 3rd matching was at Southall in Middlesex, and all three dates were sellouts.
We would welcome further information about these and any other Lou Thesz British contests. We are also seeking copies of posters or handbills.