British wrestling history 
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B: Blain - Blue Masked Marvel


Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Lewis Blain

At the time we added this entry to the A-Z in 2011 only a handful of wrestlers from the Heritage years remained active in British rings. Lewis Blain was one of that small and illustrious group, and we think that anyone who has devoted their life to professional wrestling in the post 1988 years deserves our respect. It was a man rooted well and truly in the Heritage years that had a big influence on Lewis and encouraged him to turn professional. That man was Evan R. Treharne, owner of Ringsport magazine and Ringsport Promotions. Following Evan's guidance Lewis turned professional in 1983. We all know that the 1980s were a difficult time for young professionals but Lewis persevered and gained experience not just with the independent promoters but also travelling frequently to work in Europe. 1987 was the year of his big break, being noticed initially by Ken Joyce who employed him on Devereux shows, and shortly afterwards by Max Crabtree for Dale Martin Promotions. During wrestling's short lived renaissance Lewis was well placed to work around the south against the likes of Pat O'Sullivan, Keith Myatt, Steve Grey and Syd Cooper. At about this time Lewis also began promoting across Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset, a business that continued until 2003. With wrestling in his blood Lewis is still actively involved in the business and continues to occasionally take to the ring some twenty eight years after making his professional debut.

Andy Blair
1980s favourite and regular partner of Big Daddy, doing the right thing suffering at the hands of villainous giants until saved by the oversized super hero. Was also the unfortunate opponent of Red Ivan in Ivan’s television debut. In singles contests unsuccessfully challenged Alan Kilby for his British light heavyweight championship.

Lena Blair (Also known as Leather Lena, Miss Lena,Lena Stromm)
Merseysider Barbara  Ann Swan took up wrestling at the age of 16 and retired 20 years later She then graduated at art college. During her two decades in the ring she was a regular opponent of the other top names and continually battled Rusty Blair.
Contributed by James Morton

Rusty Blair
At one time the red-headed Scot Rusty Blair held the Women’s World Title, said to have been won in Lagos. She tagged with Mitzi Mueller at the latter’s winning farewell appearance at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 April 1987 against Klondyke Kate and Nicky Monroe. It was the first time women’s wrestling had been permitted at the venue. Rusty retired shortly after her Royal Albert Hall appearance,  believed following an injury sustained in a later bout with Klondyke Kate. She should not be confused with her frequent opponent Lena Blair. A number of her bouts can be seen on YouTube.
Contributed by James Morton

Marcel Blaise

Marcel Blaise was billed as the "Canadian Golden Boy" when he wrestled in Britain during the spring of 1963. The mid heavyweight from Montreal had actually been born in Belgium and moved to Canada when he was twenty. He was very much a novice on his arrival in Britain, having turned professional less than a year earlier. Not surprisingly he didn't seem to set the place alight. Earlier opponents included powerful heavies like Willem Hall and Frank Hurley whilst later opposition were more realistically matched light heavyweights such as Ray Fury and Harry Kendall. Following his visit to Britain Marcel pursued his career back home in Canada.

Bill Blake (Also known as Fergus Cameron)

Bill Blake was often billed as "Bearded" or "Big". A native of Newton-le-Willows, a rugby player and fan of St Helens.

Described as rawboned, Bill was a tough, hard competitor whose inner nature was sometimes diguised by a cheerful smiling face, even when he hit you! Billy's forearm smashes went in full whack and shook your breastbone against your spine. Bill was regular at the Black Panther gym in Manchester and made training nights somewhat uncomfortable for other wrestlers with his whole-hearted approach to sparring.

He ran his own business and this often kept his bookings to an easy reach of his home in Ashton-under-Lyne. He had some memorable tussles in the 60s & 70s with Monty Britton, Brendan Moriarty, Pete Lindberg, Paul Carpentier, Hillbilly Bert and Chief Thundercloud on whom he once turned the tables and KO-ed him with a Bill Blake version of the tomahawk chop much to the consternation of the audience (and Thunderbird himself).

Bill was a hundred and one percenter who never shirked an opponent and should have gone further except for business and family commitments. "Always a man you were pleased to See the entry for ...and, good fun on a night out!" said Eddie Rose.

Rafael Blasco

Spanish campaigner visited in 1955, 1956 and 1960, and claimant of the European Light Heavyweight Championship. Worked mainly in the south with occasional jaunts into Northern England.

Jan (Lord James) Blears
Danish-Canadian light heavyweight Carl van Wurden encouraged  Mancunian Jan Blears to take up wrestling. He trained at the Manchester YMCA and began appearing in British rings around 1942. Blears wrestled during the war as much as his service in the merchant navy permitted. He was a radio operator during World War 2 whose ship, the SS TjIsalak was torpedoed  by a Japanese submarine. 
The Tjsisalak was a Dutch Freighter used by the Allies to transport supplies across the Indian Ocean.  The Sunday Times later reported (on 9th September, 1945) that 71 of the 76 crew were rescued and then deliberately murdered by the Japanes. Jan Blears was one of the handful that escaped from the Japanese and reportedly  ate  a tin of peaches every March 29th because this was the food given to him by sailors after they rescued him from the Ocean.

Jan Blears continued wrestling in Britain until 1947 and then  moved to the USA, living initially in California, and later Hawaii, where he was transformed into the villainous and haughty Lord James Blears, accompanied by a valetwearing a white tie and coat.  Heritage member Bernard Hughes remembers watching Lord James Blears at Newcastle when he returned to Britain in the late 1950s, "Lord Jan Blears with his long blonde hair (a la Georgeous George) had his little man friend carrying his comb (the comb was copied later by Gentleman Jim Lewis)." 

Following his long and successful wrestling career, which extended until 1972,  Blears became a successful wrestling promoter in Hawaii and  found new fans in a  career as a television wrestling commentator. 

In his later years Wrestling Heritage had contact through his friend,  Butts Giraud. His Lordship sent greetings to Heritage readers along with photos from his hospital bed. The photos show Lord Blears and Butts Giraud, and Butts and wife with Lord Blears' grandson.

Lord James Blears died of natural causes, aged 92, on 5th March, 2016. 

George Blemenschultz
The bearded heavyweight goliath from Austria visited Britain for three months in 1957. A big name of the big European tournaments. George was a rugged and unorthodox opponent as he travelled up and down the country meeting top men such as Norman Walsh, Mike Marino, Dave Armstrong and Vic Hessle. Matches also included a  main event appearance at the Royal Albert Hall loss to the popular Yorkshireman Dennis Mitchell.

Tom Blinkhorn 
Wrestling was a second career for Tommy Blinkhorn. It is rugby for which the Wigan Highfield, Warrington, Broughton Rangers, England and Great Britain player is mostly celebrated. Born on 23rd April, 1903, in Wigan.   With a rugby career behind him we find Tom wrestling in April, 1937 and in 1939 his occupation listed as a canal bargeman. Weighing around 14 stones Tom’s opponents include Leo Lightbody, Dick Wills, Carl Van Wurden, Billy Riley and Padvo Peltonin. Tom Blinkhorn’s last sighting was on 10th May, 1944, wrestling Cab Cashford in Hamilton. Tom Blinkhorn died in 1976, aged 73.

Bull Blitzer 
See the entry for Steve Wright

Aimedee Blomme
One criticism that cannot be levelled against the promoters of the 1930s was a  failure to import overseas wrestlers. At the start of the decade there was certainly a shortage of national talent and the rapid popularity of the sport resulted in visits from continental and North American stars. Their quality was variable but Aimedee Blomme was a class act and Belgian heavyweight champion. He was a powerful 16 stone heavyweight who visited between 1932 and 1934. The strength and brute force of the man made him a formidable opponent, and it was said in 1932 that he had provided British champion Atholl Oakeley with his sternest challenge. Press reports said their match was “one of the greatest duels of strength pitted against craft that the new sport has produced.”  For the most part the bulk and power of the Belgian champion overcame opponents such as the Golden Hawk, King Curtis, Jack Pye and Francis St Clair Gregory.

Blond Adonis
See the entry for Shirley Crabtree

Doctor Blood
Maybe it was the 1961 film that gave rise to the name Doctor Blood, or maybe it was intended to capitalise on the success of the better known Doctor Death. If that was the plan then it was one that failed to fulfil any of its hopes. The white mask, rule bending tactics and lighter weight was never a serious contender for his nemesis, Doctor Death, who did eventually, and inevitably,  unmask him. Beneath the mask was Liverpool’s Terry O’Neill, though we have little doubt that there were other Doctor Blood’s on the independent circuit. We saw Doctor Blood just the once, an independent show in 1965, and heard little else of him. No idea who was beneath the mask but he didn't inspire.

Andy Bloomfield
Hailing from Holkham in Norfolk Andy Bloomfield  turned professional in 1986 and worked until 1993. Although his appearances were mostly in East Anglia he did travel further afield working for Brian Dixon against a variety of opponents that included King Ben, Ian Wilson, Tony Stewart, Shane Stevens,  Ivan Trevors, and Jimmy Ocean. Andy retired from wrestling when he became disillusioned with the ever increasing use of gimmicks, though he did return a couple of years ago as the Russian lightweight Vladimir Volkov! These days Andy finds it far more satisfying leading wildlife tours. He  wrote  ‘Birds of the Holkham Area’ in 1993 and made major contributions to ‘The Birds of Norfolk’ (1999) and ‘The Turn of the Tide‘ (2005) as well as contributing to a range of ornithological journals.The Tjsisalak was a Dutch Freighter used by the Allies to transport supplies across the Indian Ocean.  The Sunday Times later reported (on 9th September, 1945) that 71 of the 76 crew were rescued and then deliberately murdered by the Japanes. Jan Blears was one of the handful that escaped from the Japanese and reportedly  ate  a tin of peaches every March 29th because this was the food given to him by sailors after they rescued him from the Ocean.
The Blue Angel
See the entry for Jim Stockdale

Blue Flash  
1950s masked man on Joint Promotions bills throughout 1954, opponents including Chic Purvey, Frankie Hughes, Chopper Conroy and John Grant, suggesting that he was not a big man. The name resurfaced once again on the independent circuit in the 1960s.

Blue Mask
We come across the name Blue Mask for the first time in June, 1937, wrestling Vic Hessle at the New St James Hall, Newcastle.  He was back again the following month tackling Francis St Clair Gregory and was destined to become the top masked man at the venue for  the following six years.  In June, 2014, Ian Pringle told us that the Newcastle Blue Mask was a local miner, from Chopwell who worked with his father in law, Ted Beckham. Ted had been born Edmund Beckham in 1911.

Beckham may have been the Newcastle Blue Mask, but it was almost certainly a localised name,  in Newcastle and Middlesbrough, with at least one other known Blue Mask, more possibly more. Another Blue Mask worked around  Lancashire,  Cheshire and the Isle of Man.  We can find no evidence of the claim at Chester in April, 1938, that the man in the woollen blue hood was undefeated in 200 matches. Opponents included Tony Baer, Sam Rabin, Whipper Watson, Jack Atherton.  

This  Blue Mask may well have been Wigan’s Bob Silcock, unmasked by Ron Historyo. He is known to have wrestled  under that name. A great deal can be read about Silcock’s masked identities in Ron Historyo’s On The Trail of Bob Silcock. After a long unbeaten run Silcock voluntarily removed the Blue Mask, with advertised appearances that he would voluntarily unmask in the ring, a blueprint for Count Bartelli’s tour unmasking over a quarter of a century later. One of those pre-planned unmaskings was at Warrington Baths on 13th January, 1939. Well, the removal appears to have vanquished any invincible powers as he was knocked out by Tony Baer. Nobody seems to have told the fans at Chester, just a few miles away, and five nights later the Mask was back in place to overcome Hans Lagren.

Silcock seems to have remained unhooded from that time on, but poor communications and lack of publicity in one part of the country  meant it was unnecessary to spoil the fun for those elsewhere and in Newcastle fans were still shouting for Beckham’s mask to be removed as late as 1944.  That was the  end of Blue Mask appearances  at Newcastle. At forty years old Beckham may have decided to call it a day

Not the end of the Blue Mask, though.  Relwyskow Promotions featured a Blue Mask in Scotland in 1947, Blue Masks in Yorkshire and Cheshire in 1948. More Beckham or Silcock? Or a third, fourth and even fifth Blue Mask?  Wrestling has always been susceptible to those wanting to cash in on the success of others but we would say that to think of Blue Mask think Beckham or Silcock.

Blue Masked Marvel
This does not appear to be a career masked man, more likely various wrestlers in the same guise. We have found a short run of Blue Masked Marvel  contests in Yorkshire between September 1933 and February 1934.  The name emerges again in November 1934 with a series of matches in the West country   running until December of that year. Following the war the name returns to the posters in Hartlepool between April and November, 1946. The masked man (or men) was not invincible but we found no record of him unmasking after defeat.

Page revised 31/05/2020 Addition of Lena Blair and Rusty Blair

20/05/19: Addition of  Doctor Blood