Facing up to the economic realities of a 1930s Britain that faced mass unemployment Harold made the decision to capitalise on his wrestling skill and turn professional.
Shortly after returning from Canada Harold began accepting money for wrestling, resulting in the removal of his amateur status in February, 1931. Now living in Doncaster Harold thrilled fans at his local hall with a win over Tony Dance in March, 1931. During the following couple of years Harold gained an enthusiastic following throughout northern England, but by 1933 with professional wrestling rapidly gaining popularity he began travelling further afield and appeared throughout Britain. Many of his most thrilling bouts were with another of Britain's greats, London middleweight Jack Dale.
By the mid 1930s Harold was consistently defeating many of the names familiar to Wrestling Heritage readers - Black Butcher Johnson, Val Cerino, Doulas the Turk and Jack Atherton. He appeared in the biggest venues around the country such as Belle Vue in Manchester, St James Hall in Newcastle, The Ring Blackfriars and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Although professional wrestling records are incomplete, and there was no national controlling body, Harold was widely recognised as British welterweight champion by 1938. He successfully defended the belt over the following ten years against all the top contenders, including his London rival Jack Dale. By that same year, 1938, Harold was also recognised as both European and World welterweight champion.
In 1938 Ring Magazine reported that Harold had beaten French wrestler Henri Laurier in Paris, the bout lasting just eighteen minutes. Regarding the world championship we have documented championship contests against Alexandre Poizat and Roger Mollett in February and November, 1938 respectively. In the United States the American Jack Reynolds was recognised as World Champion. In March 1938 Nat Frank reported,
"Jack Reynolds has expressed his willingness to battle Harold Angus for world welterweight honours, provided that the ex-British Olympic star visit America for the contest."
Reynolds, like Harold was a legitimate wrestler, and in 1963 was rated by the respected wrestling journalist Charles Mascall as the greatest welterweight of all time. In that same listing Mascall judged Harold Angus the fourth best welterweight of all time. The year following the challenge from the American Britain engaged in war and we have no record of any match between the two world title claimants ever taking place.
After turning professional Harold maintained contact with the amateur code and held in high regard all those competing. In 1936, following the Olympic Games in Munich, he wrote in Sporting Arena,
"So far as sheer skill was concerned we were the best team in the games. We have the skill and the material but were beaten by better trained men. We take the Games as an ordinary tournament into which we enter for the fun of it. Other competitors start training months, even a year, in advance. That is what beat us this year. I hope the lesson will be inwardly digested."
Although Harold's untimely death has been well documented over the years wrestling historian Ron Historyo made a startling discovery in January, 2014. He provided conclusive evidence from primary sources of the day that Harold Angus had been killed in a shooting accident on Saturday 26th October, 1940, not eight years later as is often incorrectly cited. Harold was shooting rabbits when the gun accidentally discharged. He was rushed to Doncaster Infirmary where he died at the age of just 35.
Harold's untimely death left a void amongst the welterweights, and we can find no record of a successor to his title until after the end of the Second World War. In 1949 Eddie Capelli won a tournament at Maidstone to acquire the belt that had been held by Harold. On winning the championship Eddie Capelli revealed that as a youngster it was a contest at Blackfriars between Harold and George French that had inspired him to take up wrestling. Another well known wrestler who generously acknowledged the part Harold played in his success was the Doncaster Panther, Dirty Jack Pye. Harold and Jack had both made the move from their Lancashire birthplaces to south Yorkshire Doncaster. They trained together as wrestlers, turning professional around the same time, and although Jack was a year older than Harold he always acknowledged the influence of Harold in developing the technical aspects of wrestling, though apparently Jack made little use of these finer skills in the ring.
Few achieve recognition as experts in their chosen field. Even fewer retain respect and acknowledgement as an expert more than sixty years following their death. Harold Angus is one of those rare exceptions.
Thanks to Ron Historyo for providing additional information on the early life and premature death of Harold Angus.