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D: Drake - Duval

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

George Drake

Our distant memories of George Drake are that he looked just as you would expect a  visiting Californian superstar to look. Mind you, if he had used his real name of Roland Hogg the  image may not have been quite as effective. Bronzen, handsome and looking the part of the nice boy next door we do recall him upsetting fans with his rugged style on occasions.

He came to Britain in the winter of 1963, drawing with John Da Silva in the main event at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a more fortunate result for George when he returned to the Royal Albert Hall in November, 1965, using a Japanese leg lock to secure the winning submission over John Cox.

In a tragic end to his life George Drake committed suicide on 28th December, 1967. He was aged 39.

Andre Drapp

Andre Drapp, the Lion of Lorraine was a muscular French heavyweight who had won the Mr France title in 1947 and was runner up in the 1948 Mr Universe competition.

Having worked in the United States during the early 1950s he returned to Europe in 1957, and made his British debut in September of that year. In January 1958 he knocked out Judo Al Hayes at the Royal Albert Hall. He was a frequent visitor to Britain during the first half of the 1960s, with wins over all the top heavyweights.

During his last visit he wrestled on the BBC's 1965 show from Brighton, which can be read about in our story, The Other Side of Wrestling.  Andre Drapp retired from wrestling in 1974, aged 52.

Andre DuBarry

Middleweight from Marseilles who was a frequent visitor to Britain during the 1950s.

Gene Dubuque

Born in New York in 1927 to an American father and Russian mother Gene Dubuque was an amateur  body builder Gene Dubuque who won the the 1947 "Mr New York City” title. He  turned his attention to professional wrestling  a couple of years later, working around New York and then across America before venturing overseas. Following an Australian visit in 1952 he came to  Britain during the 1953-54 winter, facing the likes of Jim Foy, Jack Pye, Norman Walsh and Dave Armstrong.  Dubuque later continued his wrestling career in the USA  and many readers of Heritage will remember reading of his exploits in American magazines as Magnificent Maurice. Gene Dubuque was killed in a plane crash in 1974.

Jacques Ducrez (Jacquerez)

European light heavyweight champion claimant Jacques Ducrez made a number of fleeting visits to Britain in the first half of the 1950s. Although his visits seem to have been of short duration he did seem willing to travel and made his way as far north as Newcastle only to be knocked out by Abdul the Turk.

Although light by heavyweight standards Ducrez was a very powerful wrestler, a former body builder whose training routine consisted largely of weightlifting.  A hugely successful wrestler throughout Europe Ducrez gained even greater fame when he donned a mask.

In 1962 a masked French terror appeared in Britain using the name Jacquerez. Amongst his ko victims were the at-that-time high-flying Billy Howes at Smethwick, Warwickshire, and conjecture remains rife at Wrestling Heritage that Gwyn Davies may have been avoiding the encounter by virtue of his non-appearance.

Jacquerez faced many other top heavyweights  including Tibor Szakacs, Josef Zaranoff and Roy Bull Davis.  We noted three years later that Bull Davis was a favoured opponent of a remarkably similar visiting French masked man. We can only conclude that Jacquerez was the very same Jacques Ducrez,  as it seems he merely eliminated the four middle letters of his two names and then elided the two together. 

Ducrez made a greater impact internationally during his second incarnation as a masked man, visiting Britain in 1965. 

Jaime Dula

Jaime Dula (often Anglicised to Jamie) was a muscular and very powerful  heavyweight from Morocco who spent most of his career living and  working in France and Germany, with visits to Britain in between 1958 and 1963.

Mostly he worked in the north of England  but ventured further south in the 1960s to work for Dale Martin Promotions.

His big moments were at the Royal Albert Hall  with  a loss to Maori  John Da Silva in October, 1959, and a drawn verdict against Albert Wall in 1963.

So regular were his appearances in Britain during this time we suspect he may have set up home in the country.

Cyril Dummer (Cocky Watson, Rough House Watson)

Light heavyweight trained under Bruno Elrington at his gym in Portsmouth alongside John Kowalski, Roger Green and Bob Kirkwood. He worked for Joint Promotions in the mid 1950s facing classy opposition such as Jim Lewis. Moved across to the independents during the 1960s and was seen occasionally in the 1970s using the name Cocky Watson or Rough House Watson.

Guilty Pleasures

My guilty pleasure has always been enjoying British wrestling from the 'World of Sport' days, or any kind of pro wrestling prior to the 80s. I use the term 'guilty pleasure' because when I was a boy growing up in the 80s, the very idea of watching half-naked grown-up men 'frolicking about' was laughable.

Whether or not pro wrestling has always been fixed is another issue, but I have always appreciated the fact that it is not easy to execute any wrestling move/hold without picking up an injury of any kind. Every Saturday afternoon, I would watch the wrestling on my tiny black-and-white television with the volume down in my bedroom (I suppose I was too shy to let my family or my friends know my appreciation for this much-misunderstood art).

I have always loved watching mat technicians with great imagination, namely Johnny Saint, in action. To me, watching this kind of wrestling is akin to admiring a classic painting.

Thanks to the internet, particularly this website, I now realise that I am not alone and that it is nothing wrong to be a wrestling fan.


Dave Duran

He might not look like it in our photo but Dave Duran was one of the hard men of wrestling who emerged onto the 1970s wrestling scene in Blackpool under the guidance of Bobby Barron.

Well, Bobby and dad, because Dave (John Palin) is the son of wrestler Harry Palin. Dave's debut, just 16 years old, came sooner than he expected, when he was called to substitute for a wrestler who failed to appear.

Dave Duran was born in Widnes, so rugby was his first sporting love, and played league for Widnes. Dave appeared regularly on television in the 1970s and 1980s.

His reputation amongst fans was as an all action wrestler, whilst his reputation amongst colleagues was as a very hard man to wrestle.

Robert Duranton

Whether it was the silk gowns, the long blond hair, the posing or the disregard for the rules, or a combination of all of them, something made the flamboyant Frenchman Robert Duranton one of the most unpopular heavyweights of the 1950s and 1960s.

A strutting peacock who slowly disrobed, to the jeers of the crowd, to reveal a muscular body that had earned the Mr France title on no less than four occasions.  Eddie Rose remembers, "Duranton was the possessor of a Mr Universe build, tanned, long hair and rather camp." 

Known as the “Orchid Man” he found success on both sides of the Atlantic, usually accompanied by his valet, Firman, who would unsurprisingly tend to get involved in the match to his master's advantage. He first visited Britain in 1957, wrestling mainly in the north, but returning for southern fans the following year.

In the years that followed Robert Duranton would make frequent short visits to Britain most years until 1966; working throughout the country, usually for Joint Promotions but flirting with the independents in the early 1960s.

Harry Duval


Harry Duval was an impressive man. Impressive in so many ways.

Admittedly not the first time we came across him. That was in 1965 when the Master of Ceremonies at the Preston Public Hall introduced Harry, who was wearing a heavy overcoat, and announced that he would be wrestling on the following month's show. We cheered him, as we would any local lad, but he looked nothing special.

The following month later Harry was back in the ring minus the overcoat. That coat had hidden muscles. Lots of them. Very big muscles. He was an impressive sight to say the least, and no less so once he began to wrestle.

We firmly believe  that Harry must be a strong contender for the title of Britain’s most under-rated wrestler. Even “The Wrestler” magazines predicted that here was the man most likely to succeed Billy Robinson, who had a firm grasp on the British and European heavyweight championship  at the time.

Dyer Henderson was born on the Caribbean island of Montserrat on 2nd May, 1935. He came over to the UK as a youngster and settled, like many of his countrymen, in the textile town of Preston. Wrestling was gaining popularity in the 1950s and Harry's interest in physical culture led him naturally to the grappling game. Training at Billy Riley's gymnasium alongside Jack Dempsey and Billy Joyce prepared him for a professional debut around 1963. His body was still developing and our earliest recorded matches, for the independent promoters such as Jack Taylor and Cape Promotions are against lighter, well respected wrestlers Pete Lindbergh, Ray Taylor and Bob Sherry.

Harry's physical culture  regime was paying dividends all the time and he quickly grew in strength and stature. Many of his bouts were preceded by a demonstration of the power of his lungs. Fans would watch in amazement as Harry's lungs inflated a hot water bottle to unbelievable proportions, quickly followed by a loud bang as the bottle exploded. Not impressed? How about Harry smashing a coconut with his fist? We did say this man was impressive. The demonstration would be followed by another impressive display, this time of his wrestling ability against men of increasing weight, experience and skill.

In the mid 1960s Harry was signed up by Joint Promotions and began to work regularly for Wryton Promotions, Morrell & Beresford, and Relwyskow & Green. As was often the case with wrestlers tempted across the divide from the opposition Joint Promotions failed to capitalise on their new acquisition. Admittedly Harry received lots of regular work, travelling up and down the country, but it seemed that  neither his terrific strength, submission style wrestling, considerable ability and wins over Prince Curtis Iaukea, Albert Wall, Pat Roach and Gwyn Davies  were enough to convince the promoters that here was a man with the potential to become one of wrestling’s post war greats. We were dismayed when Harry returned to Preston in January 1966 facing top heavyweight contender Dennis Mitchell and promoter Norman Morrell failed to even mention that Harry (who had been re-named Paul) was our local hero.

Harry retired from wrestling in 1973, fulfilling another of his ambitions by going into pub management as landlord of the Prince Consort public house in Preston. Harry left the Prince Consort to become a well known taxi driver until his retirement. He is remembered by Prestonians to this day for his immaculate attire of chauffeur’s cap, black suit and carnation.

Harry Duval passed away at home on 6th September 2013, aged 78 years.

Please leave your memories of Harry in the Talk Wrestling Forum and also on his obituary page in the Lancashire Evening Post.

We are told that Harry began using the name Paul Duval when another wrestler of that name failed to turn up for promoter Jack Taylor one night at Leicester. Which brings us to....

Paul Duval

This Paul Duval remained something of a mystery to us until recently when we met up with him at the Kent Reunion in August, 2010. We knew of his existence, and had seen photos of this other 1960s Paul Duval who was definitely not a heavyweight, did not have Caribbean parentage, and looked as though he had never blown up a hot water bottle until it exploded. 

Jack Burns was a  young middleweight who made his professional debut in 1960, working for the independent promoters. A quirk of fate led to him acquiring the name Paul Duval a few years later. Jack was working for London based promoter Tony Di Marto. 

When a French wrestler, Paul Duval, failed to show up for one of Tony's shows the promoter asked Jack to step in, and introduced him to the unsuspecting fans as Paul Duval of France!  Since retiring from wrestling paul has reverted to his birth name and is now a professional toastmaster.