L: Lightbody - Linton
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
An all action combatant of the All-In rings no one was safe when Leo Lightbody was riled, including the referee should he have admonished the wrestler for something Leo considered unjustified. The revival of professional wrestling was well underway when Lightbody first came to our attention in 1933, billed as a middleweight but often facing much heavier competition.
Posters proclaimed Leo as “The Miracle Boy from Huddersfield,” but our efforts have failed to uncover the reason for this description. One report described Leo as debonair with handsome features crowned by hair that was so beautifully smooth he must have used Vaseline.
He was fast, exciting but tenacious as well. Reports from Belle Vue, Manchester, tell of the time Leo's opponent, Canadian wrestler Carl Van Wurden wrestled “for twenty eight minutes with his left hand useless as it was held in a vice like grip by Leo Lightbody.” On other occasions, when Leo took was on the receiving end, it was noted that the beating seemed to bring out a more positive and aggressive response.
In February, 1943, Leo came very close to defeating the heavier and more powerful Scot, George Clark. Clark was a clear favourite before the match, but it was Leo who went on the offensive in the opening round, much faster than the Scot, and took te opening fall. Clark made an effort to get back into the match in the second round, but Leo's nimbleness kept him out of trouble. Fans were stunned by the result when it occurred out of the blue. The powerful Clark lifted Leo above his head and tossed him into the air. Leo descended swiftly and heavily, crashing into the mat to be counted out.
Leo was involved in one of wrestling's great tragedies, on 20th April, 1946. He was wrestling Martin Schultz. A favoured manoeuvre of Schultz's was to rebound from the ropes and fly into his opponent. The two had met many times and Leo was well aware of this move, but on that fateful night in April he dodged away, leaving Schultz to fly through the air and out of the ring. Schultz's head struck the floor and his neck was broken. It was clear that something was wrong and Leo did not follow his usual practice of attacking his prostrate opponent. The wrestler died and the coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
Leo's career continued well beyond the 1930s, finally retiring from the ring around 1950. Like many wrestlers he was also involved in the managerial side of wrestling, promoting his own shows under the name British Wrestling Enterprises.
Born in Sydney, Australia, James McDonald Lincoln turned to wrestling after gaining a reputation as a fine amateur player of cricket and rugby. Following school he was employed in the advertising department of the St James Tobacco Company.
An advertising campaign for the wrestling tournament at the Leichardt Stadium got the youngster interested in wrestling and he joined the Sydney Police Boys Club to learn how to wrestle.
In 1951 he worked in Australia as Elmo Lincoln. Our earliest discovery of young Elmo Lincoln is at Sydney's Leichardt Stadium on 5th May, 1951, losing to Ray Greenfield by one fall to nil in a four round contest. Lincoln left his native Australia soon afterwards, arriving in Singapore in September, 1951 on board the Blue Funnel ship, Gorgon, and enroute to Britain. We can trace Lincoln's wrestling exploits in Singapore up to May, 1952 when he left for Europe.
He established himself as a popular and respected wrestler, particularly in the south of England. Paul met up with a school friend who was also a wrestler, Ray Hunter. In 1956 they pooled their savings to buy a coffee bar in Old Compton Street, London, the “The Two I’s.” The name was retained from the previous owners, the Irani brothers.
Under Paul Lincoln and Ray Hunter management the coffee bar established itself as a home for many young entertainers, giving them the chance to display their talent to fellow customers. Amongst the many who took this opportunity and went on to greater fame were Tommy Steele, Adam Faith, Marty Wilde and Cliff Richard. Lincoln also opened an Italian restaurant in Soho and together with Ray Hunter, Bob Anthony Al ' Hayes he purchased The Cromwellian bar, restaurant and casino.
In 1958 Paul and Ray turned to the promotional side of wrestling, setting up Paul Lincoln Managements. They overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to become serious rivals of the established Dale Martin Promotions. That he promoted with such success was no accident. A shrewd business brain, creativity, innovation and a gift for publicity combined together to bring new life into the professional wrestling formula. The product was basically the same as that in Joint Promotion shows, but Lincoln’s flair and ability to create a publicity machine that was second to none attracted new fans to the sport. Innovation was not superficial, as Lincoln introduced many young wrestlers into the business who went on to play leading roles over the next twenty years. He may not have broken the tv monopoly, but Paul Lincoln changed the face of British wrestling.The turning point for the fledgling company came when Lincoln gained the contract to promote wrestling in the largest of the Granada Cinemas around the country.
Paul pulled on a mask and appeared on his own bills as one of Britain's top masked men. The move was inspired. The supporting role Aussie became one of the biggest crowd pullers in the country. Even without television exposure his masked persona became a household name, often imitated but never equalled.
Lincoln shows combined established wrestlers such as Mike Marino with overseas visitors such as Ricky Starr, Quasimodo and Ski Hi Lee. He introduced new talent including the Cortez brothers, Bob Anthony, the Borg twins and Bob Kirkwood.
Paul Lincoln returned to Australia for a few years in the 1970s to run a hotel. Graeme Cameron has told us that Lincoln was a very active wrestler in 1975. he made three appearances on George Gardiner bills, twice as Paul Lincoln, partnering Rasputin against Lebanese brothers Andreas and John Saade, and once as Dr Death against Andreas Saade.
Paul Lincoln also appeared on the Sydney club circuit and made three TV appearances as the villainous major MacDonold Lincoln, a haughty British military officer.
On his return to Britain Paul Lincoln moved to Scarborough for a time and worked for his friend Don Robinson.
Paul Lincoln died on Tuesday 11th January, 2011.
Pete Lindberg (Also known as Pete Lindop)
Here was a real mighty atom; a very powerful man inside his thirteen stone frame. One of the hard men and best wrestlers on the northern circuit. Pete claimed to be Britain’s strongest middleweight, and entertained fans prior to his matches by blowing up hot water bottles until they burst. The anticipation of waiting for the bottle to burst was incredible, but burst it did and we all jumped. Then Pete might well bend a few iron bars before actually getting down to the business of wrestling. Here at Heritage we are always reminding readers the biggest names were not necessarily the best. Well, here’s the proof.
With Pete on the bill we got value for money; a strong man act and a proper wrestler. Pete (and to be fair most of his contemporaries at the time) demonstrated jthe depth of the wrestling skill seam in the 1960s. After training as an amateur at the Manco Club, Manchester, he turned professional at Rochdale, losing to Colin McDonald.
During the 1960s Pete was very busy working the northern independent circuit where the industrial conglomerates of Lancashire and Cheshire called for wrestlers to work two, and sometimes more, venues in one night. In the 1970s Pete worked for Joint Promotions, particularly Best Wryton, where he entertained the fans but never reached top of the bill status.
On many occasions Pete wrestled as one half of a masked tag team the most notorious and successful of whom can be discovered in the Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.
His favourite move, the pile driver, led to victories over some of Britain’s top wrestlers, including the much heavier Steve Veidor.
One short 1961 visit to the UK was sufficient for us to select American Luther Lindsay for our A-Z. Few visitors, if any, could boast a KO win over Mike Marino at the Royal Albert Hall, or destruction of Josef Zaranoff on television. Luther Lindsay could.
In his native United States Luther Lindsay was one of the first African American wrestlers to achieve star billing, being billed as the Coloured American Heavyweight Champion. During the 1950s Luther took part in many inter-racial contests, which was something of a rarity in those days. He was a frequent challengers for Lou Thesz's world title, often holding the champion to sixty minute draws.
World Heavyweight Champion, Lou Thesz, said of Lindsay,
“the best black wrestler ever. Luther had a fantastic body and limitless energy to compliment his skill. Like many other industries, wrestling was not open to African-American wrestlers during his career, so it was an amazing accomplishment for Luther to even learn his craft. His place in history is not because he was black; it is in spite of the fact he was black."
Lindsay died, aged 48, from heart failure following a match against Bobby Paul on February 21st, 1972.
Known as “The Leeds Tornado” Hardy Lingus worked for the independent promoters in the midlands and north during the second half of the 1960s and 1970s.
Scottish welterweight Chick Linton was only five feet four inches tall, but was reckoned to be as hard as nails and was nicknamed the Scottish Pocket Hercules. Born in Dundee in 1924 Chick turned professional in the late 1940s following a successful amateur career and wrestling in the Highland Games. Although an accomplished technician that was not the path chosen by Chick. He quickly established himself as a very rough wrestler, willing to work outside the rules whenever it pleased him, which was often. He moved down south in the 1950s, basing himself in London, and was a regular worker in the south of England. Chick continued wrestling until the early 1970s, ending his career on the independent circuit. he died in January, 2010, aged 86.