British wrestling history 

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B: Burton - Byrne

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Alec Burton

Middleweight wrestler from Miles Platting in Manchester.

A 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 

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.

The Little Things You Remember 

I remember one fight where Les Kellett, inspecting the wrestlers before a Ghoul fight, said that The Ghoul's nails were too long and sent for some scissors.

When the scissors came into the ring  they were about 18 inches long. Where they got them from I don't know.

Yes Kellett did cut the nails and you could see bits fly off from the ringside seats.

Whether they were stuck on nails I don't know. Happy memories of days long gone.

Bernard Hughes

George Busfield

Top rated Bradford wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s.  George won the British Featherweight title at Earls Court in 1950 (photo right) and held the title until Joint Promotions re-organised the championships and weight divisions in 1952 and ceased recognising the weight division.

Allan Best remembered George as an excellent lighter man who had some tremendous contests with fellow Bradfordian Bernard Murray.

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 (left) and Barry Douglas.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

 The Little Things We Remember

Leyland's Eric Turner scoring a dubious looking fall over Crafty Casey Pye at Chorley Town Hall and one of the fans called out, "I could drive a Leyland bus under those shoulders."

The referee calling a halt to a match mid round to berate fans who were booing John Sinclair as he had been brought in as a substitute for Klondyke Bill. We were told we should be acknowledging Sinclair's skill.


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 Olympic  matches, against  Madho Singh of India and Viljo Punkari of Finland. He won the British middleweight championship in 1960.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.

Mike Byrne

We know precious little about heavyweight Mike Byrne, 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.

Please get in touch if you can provide more information.