N: Gordon Nelson

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Gordon Nelson

(also known as The Outlaw)

He was big, powerful and mighty. Gordon Nelson was also a fine wrestler. Born on 27th March, 1930 in the Saint Boniface area of Winnipeg he was a first class amateur who was a national champion. In 1956 he started to learn the professional style in a Winnipeg gym run by a local wrestler, Ole Olsen. Only a few months later he decided he could make money from the business by turning professional. Not in Winnipeg, not in Canada even. Gordon Nelson made his professional debut in Ipswich, on 2nd November, 1956, a Dale Martin Promotion, and knocked out Doug Joyce. Gordon's potential was apparent from the start. In December the Reading Standard, which had  forecast that however good this newcomer was it would not be good enough to match Arthur Beaumont, reported that Beaumont's strength could not compete with Gordon's agility as the newcomer won in the fourth round. 

Gordon worked mainly for Dale Martin for most of 1957, venturing further afield on a regular basis from November of that year. Dale Martin certainly seemed to have confidence in their new find, giving him good billing against the best of the heavyweights. Gordon wasn't allowed it all his own way, going down to the biggest names Joyce, Armstrong, Portz, Bartelli, Gordienko and Shirley Crabtree. In December, 1957 he made the first of many appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, drawing with Tony Mancelli in a supporting match to the Thesz – Singh World Heavyweight Championship.  In the same month he made his television debut against Farmer John Allan. 

Gordon remained in Britain until February, 1962. It had certainly been an eventful few years. None of the usual decade of paying dues before star billing. Promoters realised they were in possession of a valuable commodity who could well leave the country if they didn't treat him right. By the time he left our shores Gordon Nelson fully deserved the acclaim he was given as one of the country's best heavyweights.

Two years later and back in Britain Gordon continued where he had left off. A new career highlight came his way when he claimed the prestigious Royal Albert Hall Tournament Trophy in 1964. Having beaten Earl Maynard and Prince Kumali in the preliminary rounds it was Gordon Nelson and Steve Viedor in a final described by Charles Mascall as vicious and savage. Mascall reported that Gordon resorted to "shock tactics" before acquiring the winning fall in the fifth round.

Gordon Nelson was a man the promoters could trust, evidenced by the next phase of his career. Whilst back home Gordon had trialled a new persona, the masked Outlaw. In Britain masked men were regular featured in northern rings, but the southern Joint Promotion members, Dale Martin, had largely shied away from them. In June, 1964, the masked Outlaw appeared in Westbury,  improbably opposing Billy Torontos. We presume this was Gordon Nelson, he was in the country at the time, but then we didn't see any sign of The Outlaw for another year.

The Outlaw returned with force. Surprisingly it was Morrell-Beresford and not Dale Martin Promotions that brought him to national prominence. In December, 1965 a television debut against Steve Viedor established the Outlaw as a force to be reckoned with. Although not yet at his peak Viedor was already a well established heavyweight contender. He lasted just two rounds against The Outlaw before retiring injured.

Around the halls and on television The Outlaw established himself as a masked man to rival Kendo Nagasaki for more than two years. A list of vanquished good guys serves no purpose but we will just mention a straight 2-0 submissions win over Jim Osborn, an unmasking of the Zebra Kid and defeat of Albert Wall at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Outlaw was never beaten or unmasked, and disappeared frustratingly in 1968 after forging an occasional tag team with Kendo Nagasaki. Gordon Nelson continued wrestling stateside well into the seventies, as Mr America amongst other guises.

Whilst the original Outlaw defeated all before him in Joint Promotion rings there were always imitations (Carl Dane a particularly good one) in independent rings. In  subsequent years the name re-surfaced time and again in both independent and Joint rings. 

Wrestling enthusiast SaxonWolf: "I am now wondering if any one wrestler faced as many greats on both sides of the pond, or is Gordon Nelson unique in this respect? He faced everybody who was anybody in the UK, the US, Canada and some big names in Japan as well.   If you name just about any mid/light/Heavyweight from our golden era, he faced them! Rocky Wall, Ian Campbell, Billy Howes, Mike Marino, Billy Robinson, George Gordienko, Norman Walsh, Billy Two Rivers. If you think of the big names of 1970's US Wrestling:  Dusty Rhodes, Andre The Giant, Terry Taylor, Stan Hansen, Barry Windham,  Terry Funk, Fred Blassie, Bob Backlund, Lou Thesz .... and more."

Gordon Nelson died on 18th December, 2012.

Page added 29/08/2021