K:  Kangaroo Kennedy

Kangaroo Kennedy

Also known as Clyde Hurle

In the early 1960s promoter Paul Lincoln challenged the near monopoly of Dale Martin Promotions in southern England by creatively engaging a surprisingly small roster of veterans, newcomers and ovserseas visitors. When it came to the visitors Paul Lincoln certainly knew how to pick them; Ricky Starr, Quasimodo, Les Blousons Noir and Professor Adiwasser were all tempted to our shores. One of the best was Australian Kangaroo Kennedy, who would help to pack Lincoln’s halls as he tackled with the likes of Doctor Death, Gori Ed Mangotich, Quasimodo and Docker Don Stedman.

Lincoln brought Kennedy to Britain in 1964. His already colourful stable of wrestlers was joined by  a blond haired man climbing into the ring carrying a boomerang.  The man carrying the boomerang, which we all found pretty exotic back in 1964,  and unimaginatively named Kangaroo Kennedy, was  Australian Clyde Hurle.

In the case of Kennedy Lincoln knew just what he was bringing in to the country because the two men had a shared past. He knew that Kennedy was a skilled wrestler, with bags of experience, an engaging personality and an exciting style that was not always to the fans liking. Both men came from Sydney, Australia, where they had started their wrestling career. Although Lincoln had left his home country in 1951, travelled almost directly to Britain and stayed put, Kangaroo Kennedy was a man forever on the move. Here was a man who lived out of a suitcase, trusted and respected by promoters all over the world.

Kangaroo Kennedy had all the prerequisites of a pro wrestler – he was big, skilful, had the looks and a style that could arouse the emotions of the fans, “A rugged nightmare - he is proving a nightmare to English officials” proclaimed the Paul Lincoln publicity machine.

As so often happened Joint Promotions stepped in to entice the pick of the Lincoln men, and this was the case when Kangaroo Kennedy went over to Joint Promotions in the Autumn of 1965, bringing him into competition with top Joint men Billy Joyce, Dennis Mitchell and Bruno Elrington. What was a surprise to many British fans was that this wasn’t the Australian's first visit to Britain as he had wrestled in the country in 1955, using his family name of Clyde Hurle.

Back home Kangaroo Kennedy was a mainstay of George Gardiner’s promotions in the 1950s and 1960s. We have found him in on 20th  September, 1951, wrestling Leo Jensen in his hometown of Sydney.  In 1957 and 1958 he wrestled in the United States, in California, Texas and Hawaii. He returned to the United States in 1962 and 1964, and also worked extensively in Canada, sometimes using the name Clyde Kennedy.  Between those trips he managed to fit in a visit to Pakistan, where we find Kangaroo Kennedy wrestling in March, 1963 with Akram and Aslam Pahalawan amongst his opponents. We told you this man travelled.

In Britain he was billed as Australian heavyweight champion, and for once there was some truth in the billing. He was the last holder of the Australian heavyweight title which had existed since 1933. He never lost the title, it just faded away when the American promoters took over the business. Following his time in Britain he returned to Australia before quickly moving on to Canada, the USA and a strenuous  tour  of Japan working practically every night between the end of March and beginning of May, 1966.

He returned to Australia where we last found him active in 1969. He retained an interest in wrestling, particularly helping youngsters, and continued to give demonstrations of his wrestling skills to youth clubs.

Heritage member Graeme Cameron takes up the story.

Kangaroo Kennedy last worked in Australia in 1969 for George Gardiner, teaming with Bob  Weyland in a tag team match against brothers Tony & Charlie Kontellis in what was  Gardiner's last big card before Gardiner became Jim Barnett's PR man in WCW and the  promotion was downsized to club promotion. Kennedy worked on a number of the club cards through the year as well. He made appearances in WCW in 1966 against  Roy Heffernan,  John  DaSilva and Greek-American Steve Bolus. He made his  last appearance for  WCW in  July 1968,  ironically  against Spiros Arion. Ironically because Kennedy was inadvertently responsible for Arion leaving George Gardiner's promotion in 1966 after only one appearance. Here's the story, as told to me by Tony Kontellis (who was Gardiner's right hand man and is a someone that I'm friendly with).

Arion had expressed dissatisfaction with WCW. Despite being the champion, he felt Dominic  DeNucci and Killer Kowalski were being favoured over him for main events (true). Tony,   authorized by Gardiner, convinced Arion to jump to their promotion by offering him  triple  the money he was on and star billing. Arion had one big match against King Kong in Sydney,  which he won by reverse decision which was done to pacify the hostile Greek fans

More big matches were planned but first he was matched with Kennedy on a smaller card.. Arion apparently had dodgy knees. He knew that Kennedy was a shooter who excelled at leg wrestling, refused to wrestle him. and walked out on the promotion (This was the second of three times  Arion walked out on a promoter when unhappy). The further irony here is that Kennedy himself  had knees so bad that he was doing the playboy gimmick where he walked out with a pretty girl on either arm because  the only way he could get to the ring was with two people  supporting him. He  wrestled for three more years so how those knees were, one can't be sure    but he was certainly having big problems with them at the time. I personally suspect it had more to do with Gardiner not being able to pay Arion what he was promised.

There is an internet record stating that Peter Maivia defeated Kennedy for the Australian title in  Auckland but this is not correct. It was the Australasian title (ie. Australia and New Zealand) which had been inactive for sometime. I believe they revived it by billing Kennedy as the champion and using his title belt for the match. There is no record of who held the belt for the previous ten years so I believe this is the most likely scenario.

Kangaroo Kennedy, born 6th March, 1926,  died in Sydney on 19th October, 2002  aged 76.

22/10/2020 Graeme Cameron contribution added

Page added 18/10/2020

Reviewed 28/02/2022