R: Karl Reginsky

Top Wrestlers of the 1930s

Karl Reginsky

One of the big names of the 1930s, and claimant of the European heavyweight championship in pre war Britain, Casimir Raczynski settled in London and Anglicised  his name.

Or at least that what we had always thought, and we were not alone. Read any history of wrestling and they will tell you the same. It fell to Heritage’s Ron Historyo to uncover the truth. Karl Reginsky, or  Casimir Raczynski, was born in London. It’s a pretty complicated tale, and the German bit is far from fictitious, a sort of Anglo/German/Polish background. It’s an absorbing tale told in On The Trail of Karl Reginsky.

"Germany's Ace Bad Man” proclaimed the posters,  and he was a man who should receive a prize for sheer audacity. 

Here we were in 1930s Europe with Hitler tightening his hold on the German nation about to embark on his European undertaking and in British wrestling rings Karl Reginsky was goose stepping around and giving the Nazi salute. The fans reacted just as you would expect and Reginsky was one of the most hated of all 1930s wrestlers, as he laughed his way to the bank.

We have undocumented reports of Reginsky in Britain from the very start of the All-In era, as early as January 1931 working against Bert Assirati, Atholl Oakeley and George Boganski. Our first documented report is on 20th August, wrestling Billy Riley in Wigan, Riley’s home turf. Reginsky was said to be the German champion and the match, wrestled in catch-as-catch-can style,  was for the middleweight championship of the world, which was held by Riley. Reginsky trained in Crewe and a train was chartered to take his fans to Wigan. Old timer Joe Carroll was Karl’s second and the match was promoted by George DeRelwyskow. Experience and skill overcame strength and youth. Riley won the first fall after 45 minutes and the second just seven minutes later.

Working in Britain throughout the 1930s he was one of Oakeley’s men, and the wrestler/promoter described their close friendship in “Blue Blood on The Mat.” As the decade progressed Reginsky increased in strength, weight up to 15 stones, skill and claiming the European heavyweight title, and notoriety, as he developed his bad boy German image as war clouds formed over Europe.

Infamy not just in the ring. When Reginsky was sued by referee Phil Meader for assault in the dressing room the presiding judge, clearly not a fan of wrestling and sceptical that any rules existed, sarcastically commented that wrestlers were not allowed to eat their opponents. Rules were read to the court, including one that wrestlers’ seconds were not permitted to give their fighter strychnine or cocaine, followed by laughter. The judge described Reginsky’s attack as ‘a little discourteous’.  

Judgment was made against Reginsky, who was ordered to pay £150. Shortly afterwards  he was declared bankrupt, with liabilities of £459 against assets of £15. When questioned about income tax Reginsky declared that he had never paid any.

As the decade near conclusion it was clear that Europe was not the safest of places for Karl Reginsky. On the 3rd June, 1939, he set sail for Sydney, Australia. On 30th July in Brisbane we find “Karl Reginsky, a bullet headed German wrestler, who entered the ring attired in a swastika-decorated robe, defeated Sam Burmister, announced as the ‘Jewish champion.”  Subtle as ever!

Again details of his time in Australia, and subsequently on to the United States can be read in On The Trail of Karl Reginsky. 

As far as British wrestling was concerned that was more or less the end of the road for Karl Reginsky. We do find him back in Britain in December, 1946,advertised fighting Charlie Green in Coventry on December 10th, our library visits uncovered a win over Bert Mansfield at Bloxwich on 9th January, 1947, and two or three other contests. Most significant of all was Karl’s invitation to take part in Athol Oakeley’s World Heavyweight tournament at Harringay on 18th February, 1947. Following a win over Clem Lawrence Reginsky was eliminated from the tournament by Ivar Martinsen.

There’s far more to the Karl Reginsky story. This was a case for Ron Historyo in On The Trail of Karl Reginsky.

Related article: On The Trail of Karl Reginsky on www.wrestlingheritage.com