On the left a photo from the Allan Best collection, of Joe on the way to beating Georgio Zervinis in the 1932 Olympic Games.
A very slight man, therefore, to enter the world of professional wrestling in the 1930s, where big men like Jack Pye, Norman the Butcher and Carver Doone were the fans' favourites.
Joe made his professional debut in May, 1935 at Preston, against the heavier Sid Milligan of Rochdale. The Lancashire Evening Post reported, “”Joe Reid, the collier from Leigh, who has gained very nearly every possible success in amateur wrestling, won his first fight at the Majestic, Preston, last night, defeating Sid Milligan by two falls to one in a ten round catchweight contest.....Reid’s superior craft gave him the victory – indeed he was never fully extended,” Joe readily admitted that he saw wrestling as a means of escaping a life down the pits.
Throughout the second half of the 1930s Joe travelled extensively, gaining a good reputation usually against heavier opponents that included Bully Pye, Harry Rabin and Black Butcher Johnson.
Naturally Joe was called up during the Second World War, which put his wrestling career on hold. He was captured whilst serving and spent much of the war enduring a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. In 2002 Joe was posthumously nominated as a local hero who deserved honouring in the Leigh town centre walk of fame.
For a short time in 1948 Joe was British lightweight champion in northern rings but in those days, there was no nationally recognised set of champions. At the time Joe was one of the trainers at Norman Morrell's gym in Bradford. One of the students was a young George Kidd. Kidd was granted a title match against his tutor, Joe Reid. Joe warned Kidd that no favours would be granted. George managed to apply a figure four leg lock on Joe, but Joe would not submit, which resulted in Joe being badly injured though retaining his title. Joe recovered and eventually lost his British title to Cliff Beaumont.
Joe continued wrestling for many years, until the 1960s in fact. By then he was well past his prime, slower in his movements, but a wrestling mind as alert as ever, remembered by Heritage member Mike Agusta, who told us that one of the greatest memories of his wrestling career was visiting Joe Reid's gymnasium.
Joe Reid died in 1968.