C: George Clark
Top Wrestlers of the 1930s
Here was one of the great pioneers of British wrestling, one of the real wrestlers who played a significant part in the renaissance of British wrestling in the 1930s, and continued wrestling until the early 1950s. George Clark was a Scot of immense strength and fine wrestling ability in differing styles. He was made of sturdy stuff, born into a large farming family in Banff, a historic town in the north east of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. That was on 1st February, 1907, and it wasn't long before the youngster was expected to help out on the family farm at Grange. It wasn't just the farm work that built up the youngsters strength, it was also an interest in sport, throwing weights and hammers.
In 1924, aged just 17 years old, George began competing in Highland competitions throwing the hammer and caber tossing. For three decades there was no one to equal George Clark. His record breaking throw of the 56lb weight (a distance of 39 feet 6 inches) at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, in September, 1931, was a record that stood for over 30 years.
Wrestling was another sport at which George excelled, competing in both Cumberland and Westmorland and Lancashire Catch styles.
This sporting background, along with a 50 inch chest, weighing 16 stones and standing 6'1” tall made George a perfect candidate for the professional wrestling boom that was spreading around the country. Having left service as a policeman in Dundee George took up professional wrestling, All-In style, and joined fellow Scots giant, John Bell, travelling up and down the country.
He was an immediate success. A professional for only a few months it took George just 23 minutes to gain the verdict over British heavyweight champion, Atholl Oakeley, at the Barnsley Stadium in October, 1933. A few weeks later he made his debut at Lane's Club in London, part of an elimination series to find a challenger for champion Oakeley. His opponent was the even bigger Scot, John Bell of Fraserburgh, who weighed over 20 stones. George took the lead with a fall in the 21st minute but failed to beat the count after 50 minutes of wrestling. In those days a knock out was equivalent of a fall, resulting in a drawn verdict at the end of the contest. A month later he failed in his bid to take the championship from the holder, Atholl Oakeley.
Throughout all this George continued competing in Highland Games tournaments, making the national press again in August, 1934, when he threw the heavy hammer 97 feet 4 inches.
American Jack Sherry was defeating all before him. In November, 1934, George faced the experienced Sherry at Millberry Rinkeries in Plymouth. The contest reached an extraordinary conclusion with a result described in the local press as “an incident.” Sherry pinned George's shoulders to the mat following which the “incident,” said to involve both wrestlers and referee Billy Woods, resulted in the disqualification of George Clark.
Following in the footsteps of Oakeley and Garnon George Clark crossed the Atlantic in December, 1936, heading for Toronto, Canada, where it was said, “The big, good-looking Scot is still a close, orthodox grappler, but fans who have seen him have taken a fancy to his size, his big smile, pink cheeks and grappling ability.”
The Windsor Daily Star (8/12/36) “George Clark of Dundee, Scotland, originator of wrestling's new 'Highland Fling' defeated Al Mercier in a single fall ...The Scotsman bewildered his opponent with the curious manoeuvre and used it to slap him to the mat on five or six occasions before winning in 19:53.”
Not everything went George's way, there were occasions he came up against better men, such as this night, reported by the Hartford Times, on January 19th, 1938, when he faced Lou Thesz, “Suspicion that husky George Clark, the Loch Lomond Monster, had been offered sacrificially on the altar of build up for yet another wrestling champion lurked in the minds of Hartford’s grappling fans today. Louis (Don) Thesz, billed as champion of the world (in Missouri), tossed the 226-pound Scot twice in succession at Foot Guard Armory last night. Mr. Thesz accomplished his end efficiently and easily.”
George remained in North America for all of of 1937, moving into the United States before returning home in 1938 where he continued to defeat the biggest names in Britain, including Bill Garnon, Len Franklin and Jack Pye.
During the Second World War George served in the Royal Air Force but continued to fit in some wrestling commitments whilst on leave. He fully resumed his Highland Games and professional wrestling careers following the cessation of hostilities. He mastered yet another style, Mount Evans style wrestling, working mainly in the north and Scotland for Norman Morrell and George de Relwyskow.
In 1951, a professional for over twenty years, he wrestled Ernest Baldwin for the British heavyweight championship, unfortunately injured in the seventh round after providing a powerful attacking force for six rounds and leading by one fall. It had been a similar fate three years earlier when he was in the lead and seemingly had the upper hand in a championship match with Bert Assirati.
Our last recorded contest for George Clark was in 1955.
Page revised 20/04/19