WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 
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Heritage


B: Burton - Byron

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Alec Burton
Middleweight wrestler from Miles Platting in Manchester. Another graduate of the Black Panther Gym in Manchester via Judo. Alec started as one of Lord Bertie Topham’s valets before embarking upon a solo career in his own right. He was a solid craftsman in the ring and, occasionally, resorted to Martial Arts skills when the situation warranted it.

Wrestled almost exclusively for Independent promoters in the North and Midlands and appeared in Scotland periodically. Memorable bouts included those against Alf Marquette, Jim Moser, Peter Lindberg, Ian St John, Brendan Moriarty and Ian ‘Mad Dog’ Wilson.

Formed a tag team in the late 60s with Eddie Rose, appearing as the Masked Barons and, for several months had the services of a masked valet (shades of Lord Bertie) who was none other than Jack Mawdesley, the referee and secretary of the A-Z Fan Club.

Alec’s ring career finished after sustaining a badly broken fibula and tibia at Orrell Rugby Club versus Jimmy Rice. (This was the occasion when the referee looked at the injury and then asked “Are you sure you can’t do another round?” as the bones stuck out of the wrestling boot).

He then purchased a couple of rings and became a regular provider of good, reliable rings at both boxing and wrestling shows. It was always a treat to travel to shows with Alec as every journey began at his house where his mum, Edie, always provided bacon sandwiches for the lads. He was a man with a good sense of fun and always with a laugh and a ‘story’ to entertain. 

Tragically, Alec was killed by his own ring van when the jack collapsed on him at the M62 Birch Services near Rochdale. His funeral at Southern Cemetery was attended by hundreds of boxers, wrestlers and fans who paid their respects in the pouring rain to a good professional.
Thanks to Eddie Rose for contributing this piece about his friend, Alec Burton

Bill Burton 
Quite a few servicemen popped up to wrestle during the Second World War and disappeared following the end of hostilities. One of them was Bill Burton, a sergeant in the Army. We presume he was based in or around Newcastle as we have over a dozen records of him appearing at the New St James Hall, Newcastle, between January 1942 and December 1945. Opponents included Cyril Knowles, Jim Lewis, Jack Harris and James Blears.

Ted Burton
Like Bill Burton (above) we suspect a wartime activities connection for Staff Sergeant Ted Burton, a low key wrestler who worked frequently at Belle Vue, Manchester, between 1942 and 1945. Opponents included Carlton Smith, Jack Harris, Hec Trudeau and Jack Beaumont.

Henri Bury
The muscular and powerful Belgian heavyweight champion from Liege visited Britain on numerous occasions in the 1950s. Our earliest recording is a 1952 match against Dominic Pye, and the last against Tony Zale in 1959. Between times opponents included Bert Assirati, Alan Garfield, Gordon Nelson and Jack Pye.

George Busfield
Our knowledge of this distinguished Bradford wrestler of the 1940s is sadly limited.  Our earliest record of wrestler George Busfield arises from the pages of the Leeds Mercury on 2nd March, 1936, when he competed in the Olympic wrestling trials, and again on 16th March when it was reported that a meeting of the Yorkshire Amateur Weight Lifting and Wrestling Association had nominated wrestlers for the National Championships, to be held on 28th March, which would be used as part of the selection process for the 1936 Olympic Games. Amongst those selected were George Busfield and Raymond Cazeaux at bantamweight. It was Cazeaux that went on to represent Britain.

We have found a number of newspaper cuttings during the Second World War in which George, the northern counties amateur champion, was reported  wrestling whilst serving a sergeant in the Royal Air Force.

Our earliest documented professional record is in May, 1948, losing to Scotland's Andy Anderson by two falls to one at the Caird Hall, Dundee. We do have unverified professional contests going back to December, 1945, at Lime Grove Baths. This must have been one of George's first, if not the first, professional matches as he had taken part in the British Amateur championships just four weeks earlier. 

There is evidence of frequent professional working for promoters George DeRelwyskow and Norman Morrell in the second half of the 1940's. As a fellow Bradfordian and celebrated amateur George would certainly have known Norman Morrell for many years. Professional opponents included other young wrestlers who were to go on to professional success that included George Kidd, Alan Colbeck, Jack Dempsey and Bernard Murray.

In 1951 Mat magazine published a photograph of George and Bernard Murray with the caption declaring that George had just  won the  British Featherweight championship by defeating Murray at Earls Court. We uncovered such a win at Earls Court on 4th December, 1950. The late historian Allan Best saw George wrestle and recalled an excellent lighter man who had some tremendous contests with fellow Bradfordian Murray. Winning a national title in 1950, reportedly under Lord Mountevans rules, made George one of the first Mountevans champions that pre-dated the formation of Joint Promotions by more than a year.

The Mat wrestling magazine gave a clue to George's wrestling style, saying that he had a keen sense of comedy and had a natural sense of what the audience wanted.

Despite his wrestling credentials Busfield failed to make a lasting impact on the professional wrestling landscape and retired at the end of 1952 shortly after Joint Promotions had withdrawn recognistion of the bantamweight division.  He certainly didn't lack the skill, but maybe at os he headed towards forty years of age George just didn't have the inclination or energy to pursue a professional wrestling career.

George Busfield, born 28th February, 1913, died 1969.


Mohammed Butt
Mohammed Butt was one of the strongest 1980s heavyweight wrestlers. He would often give a demonstration of power lifting prior to his contests.  Appeared on television against Len Hurst, John Elijah and Barry Douglas.

Alan Butts
No one doubted Alan Butts ability to wrestle. The popular Birmingham youngster turned professional in 1961, the year after winning the British middleweight amateur championship and being the youngest member of the British wrestling team in the Rome Olympic Games.  Alan lost both his Okympic  matches, against  Madho Singh of India and Viljo Punkari of Finland. He won the British middleweight championship in 1960.

Mike Byrnes
We know precious little about heavyweight Mike Byrnes, other than he was a busy worker over a short period and was featured in the wrestling holds book "Wrestling - The Admiral Lord Mountevans Style," photographed demonsrating holds with Dave Armstrong. Mike appeared in British rings between 1940 and 1943, mostly in northern England, though we have one recorded match at Harringay against Tiger Joe Robinson. He reappeared in 1949, and was around for a couple of years, again mostly in Northern England and Scotland.

Sweet Lord Byron
See the entry for Tony Kaye

Page revised 21/04/20: Revision of George Busfield entry

9/5/19: Addition of Bill Burton and Ted Burton