WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

M: Bernard Murray

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Bernard Murray

The smiling bald headed Yorkshireman, one of the most popular characters in post war wrestling, was born in Bradford on 19th April, 1927. 

He was destined to become famous for performing his duties  with good humour, and was a popular figure in the nation's living rooms initially as one of the top lighter men  in the country and latterly as a third man.  In fact Bernard was at one time appearing on tv more often than that man McManus as he featured in the opening sequence of our weekly wrestling fix. 

An amateur career led to a professional debut, under the guidance of Norman Morrell shortly after the end of the second world war. Along the way he swapped his birth name of Moran for that of Murray.  It was a career in which Bernard carved his own niche with a touch of comedy that many suspect was the inspiration for Les Kellett.

We first come across Bernard in May 1947, wrestling in Hartlepool.  His early billing was as Scottish, Girvan to be precise, and in December, 1947 he wrestled  in a tournament for the Scottish lightweight championship. The Scottish connection remains a mystery to us, maybe the family moved there, but many of his his earliest appearances seemed to be in Scotland.

As a professional Bernard brought fun to the sport we love, remembered fondly by fans decades after he graced our rings.

Fans like Bernard Hughes: 
"I had the pleasure of watching Bernard Murray a few times and he never disappointed. Very skillful, and he could dish it out a bit if he felt like it. His match with Gentleman Jim Lewis was a pleasure to watch from the time that the wrestlers got into the ring right to the end. Lewis came to the ring and his second carried a hand mirror and a comb. Before the match started the long blond hair was  combed. At the end of the first or second round Murray's second ran to the dressing rooms. He returned with a huge mirror and a toothless large comb. Murray's second held up the mirror whilst Bernard pretended to comb what wasn't there. Lewis went mad, rushed across the ring and it took Les Kellett to the end of the round to separate them." 

Fellow wrestler Peter Preston, not one known for his compliments:
"Bernard Murray was one of the all time greats.  As a wrestler and a very good friend.  He had the best Irish Whip in the business, bar none.  I have lots of wonderful memories of Bernard and myself together."

Another former colleague Paul Mitchell is too young to have wrestled Bernard but remembers him officiating: 
"His refereeing style was excellent and to watch his positioning a workers dream. He was a thoroughly nice, funny guy. I wish I'd had longer conversations with him. He was, according to Jack Dempsey a class act who could wrestle ,praise indeed from Jack. Jack and a few old timers told me Les learned a few moves off Bernard."

We can add Bernard to the long list of wrestling landlords as in the early 1960s he was in charge of The Leventhorpe Inn at the corner of Thornton Road and Old Road in Bradford for five years.

Bernard's professional wrestling career lasted more than twenty years and was followed by success as a referee for Dale Martin Promotions. Many wrestlers owe thanks to Bernard for the training they received, with Bernard working as a coach for Norman Morrell initially, and later Dale Martin Promotions.

Following retirement Bernard emigrated to New Zealand, where he died in 2012.

We end with comments from Lisa, the youngest daughter of Olympian  Jack Taylor (from Bradford).She tells us she had the special honour of being great friends with Bernard Moran (Murray) :
"Bernard was a real character and was loved by many I will miss him greatly. Bernard was a great friend to my family. He took me under his wing when I first emigrated to New Zealand in 1996. His wit and funny stories helped me through some tough times and he became like a second father to me and grandfather to my four children. We will miss him greatly and I am sure he will be a shining star in the sky watching over us, as he was my guiding star when he was alive."

Bernard Murray: Born 19th April, 1927;  Died 19th June, 2012

Page added 19/04/2021