WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

S: Lee Scott

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Lee Scott

Fleetwood, a Victorian coastal town in Lancashire, famous for it’s art deco theatre, Fisherman’s Friend lozenges, an almost forgotten fishing industry with an aroma that could permeate the entire town, the trams to Blackpool and one of Britain’s shortest ferry trips across the River Wyre to Knott End. It was a grand day out.

Then there was the wrestling.

In the 1950s Jack Pye, Dave Armstrong, Bert Assirati and Black Butcher Johnson were topping the bills. And it was on 27th June, 1952, that Heritage friend Gerry Hoggarth wrestled Shirley Crabtree at the Marine Pavilion in what is believed to be Crabtree’s ring debut. Gerry remembered the occasion as the only time his wife, Vera, accompanied him to a bout and on seeing the poster outside made him go inside and check Shirley wasn't a woman wrestler!

By the 1960s it was the independent promoters that held sway at the Marine Pavilion, whilst in nearby Blackpool Dominic Pye was putting on shows three times a week, and Joint were at the Tower every week.  There were plenty of local lads to give the fans what they wanted. In Fleetwood there was Iska Khan, Jock Campbell, Fireball Red Naylor and our subject today, Lee Scott. Just down the tram line were the Pyes, Rex Strong, The Monster Jim Green, Colin McDonald, Johnny Bramhall and others.

Lee Scott was in good company. He was a big, bruising heavyweight with an interpration of the rules that was not always to the fans’ liking. It was that rumbustious style that allowed Pat Roach a win in his professional debut. Lee Scott was selected as the opponent for Pat when he stepped into the ring for the first time at the Aston Playhouse in Birmingham. Lee was obligigingly disqualified.

A decade of travelling around the country being booed and jeered had never figured in the plans for the young heavyweight.  

Lee Scott was not the name on the birth certificate. He was born George Wright on 15th October, 1934. He attended  Manor Road Infant School, Chaucer Junior School, where a lad called Harry Strickland was in the same year group,  and Baileys Secondary Modern School.

George learned a trade and was taken on at the Fleetwood construction company Brown and Jackson as an apprentice bricklayer. From 1939 until 1960 all eighteen year old males were conscripted for national service. For George this meant two years serving in the King’s Own Infantry Regiment. Bricklaying would have to wait.

With army service behind him George returned to Fleetwood to get on with his life. Remember that lad Harry Strickland? Well, George got a job pointing a house, and when he turned up he found the owner was Harry Strickland,  later to become known to Heritage readers as wrestler Jock Cameron. For George there was no interest in wrestling at that time. No interest in sport at all, except for fishing. Fishing was a first love, and over sixty years later, it still is.

It was a chance meeting with Dominic Pye that was to change everything. George was a big, strong man, he weighed over 16 stones. Dominic saw the potential and suggested he got involved in wrestling. Dominic put George in touch with a Fleetwood professional, Fred Naylor. By day Fred worked for the  Imperial Chemical Industries at Thornton Cleveleys, by night he was Fireball Red Naylor, a busy welterweight, and frequent opponent for the likes of Kevin Conneely, Shem Singh, Colin McDonald and Johnny Saint.

George took to the sport like the proverbial duck to water and before the 1950s was out he was appearing on the independent shows of the north. The name on the poster was not George Wright, but Lee Scott, chosen at random because it sounded good, and George was an admirer of American heavyweight boxer Lee Savold.

Heritage member WilliamR remembers Lee Scott, "He was a popular heavyweight from Fleetwood. I remember watching him in a bout at Lancaster Kingsway Baths in 1963. His opponent was Chief Thunderbird. Here's a thought. I last watched Lee Scott wrestle when I was sixteen and I'm seventy-two now. Where has the time gone? "

Mike Agusta is another with memories, but more painful ones, "Lee Scott did some shows for Bob Bannister in Accrington and other places. He was an opponent of mine at the Drill Hall in Accrington. He was a tough character who when he had you in a Boston Crab, you really felt it."

Following a professional debut in Morecambe Lee went on to work for most of the major independent promoters, including Jack Taylor, Dominic Pye, Jack Jefferson, Lew Phillips and Gentleman Jim Lewis. Memorable opponents included Chief Thunderbird, Wild Angus, Bobo Matu, Jim Moser and world champion boxer Randy Turpin. More memorable moments included working for Dominic Pye. Dominic promoted his shows in the true sense of the word.  Lee enjoyed being driven along Blackpool promenade in Dominic's cadillac publicising the forthcoming show, Cowboy Jack Cassidy was there riding his horse enticing the passers by and mini skirted girls would hand out fliers. And as far as we remember, the sun was always shining!

In the early 1960s Lee, Harry Strickland and a wrestler known as Sergeant Johnnie Lawlor joined up to promote wrestling at the Marine Pavilion, Fleetwood and the Pontins Holiday Camp in Blackpool. They took their initials and GHJ International Promotions were formed. They had no trouble attracting the  big names of the independent circuit and  Angus Campbell, Cowboy Cassidy, The Monster and Chief Thunderbird featured regularly for four or five years.

Lee was always content. He had no desire to wrestle full time for Joint Promotions, though the prospect was briefly considered when Harry went to work for Joint Promotions. “He wasn’t happy in his work and longed for the big time and working full time. I was content with my life as a bricklayer and regular bookings for the opposition.”

Those bookings did come from all around the country, wrestling from Cornwall, to South Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man

All was going well until one night in 1969 at the Cavendish Club, Blackburn. Lee entered the ring as usual. His knee suddenly gave way. No warning, just the abrupt ending of a ten year career. 

Heritage is pleased to remember Lee Scott.

Page added 27/09.2020