L: Lancaster - LaRue
Wrestling Heritage A-Z
For a couple of years, 1964 and 1965, Larry Lancaster was a busy worker for Joint Promotions, with opponents that included top heavyweights Steve Veidor, Sean Regan and Yuri Borienko. Most of his bouts were for Dale Martin Promotions in the south of England. Regular appearances in Portsmouth lead to a suspicion that he may have lived nearby. To his credit the boy did travel, and he worked in the north of England for Norman Morrell,
Like many other professional wrestlers Rex Lane made the transition from fan to backroom boy (he put the ring up at Middlesbrough Town Hall) to getting thrown around in the gym, often by his mate Dicky Swales. We are often surprised that many wrestlers are unable to remember the year, let alone the date, when they made their professional debut. Rex has no excuse because a couple of important things happened to him in 1981, more or less at the same time. He got married and went to Scarborough on his honeymoon. Whilst there he and his new bride went to the wrestling, only to find that the promoter was a man short. You know what's coming, don't you? Seeing Barry in the audience the promoter turned to him for help. Wouldn't we all have welcomed the chance to make a few bob on our honeymoon? In the years that followed Rex travelled the country and the world, working for top promoters such as Max Crabtree, Bobby Barron, and Jackie Pallo. Happy memories include great matches with Greg Valentine and Pete Ross, driving to London with Haystacks holding the car door in place after accidentally pulling it off as he climbed in, working in Spain and Germany; whilst a moment of great sadness as he partnered Mal Kirk on the night that he died.
Jack Lang was a powerfully built middleweight from Crewe who had a background as a BAWA weightlifting champion. He was a very strong man with an enormous chest, neck and shoulders.
Jack's real name was Harry Green and there was already a prominent wrestler by that name so he was re-branded for the professional ring as Jack Lang.
He wrestled in the Midlands and North in the late'60s and '70s, mainly for Independent promoters but also for Wrytons Promotions at one time. His opponents included Pete Lindberg (billed as the Clash of the Strongmen), Lew Roberts, Gordon Corbett, Jack Martin, Eddie Rose and Paul Mitchell.
Lew Roberts remembers Jack with some bitterness, for Lew had his first bout with Lang who showed him no mercy and dished out a fairly savage beating. Lew then came to the Panther's Gym in Manchester where a couple of the local hard men took him under their collective wing and showed him how to even the score with Lang which he did two years later when he broke Lang's nose in a bout described as " a bit of a ding-dong" by promoter Jack Cassidy.
Jack went to Australia for several years and wrestled extensively, his robust style earning him a good reputation. He was a serious-minded wrestler who was not interested in anything else but overcoming opponents with his great strength. Outside the ring he was a cheerful man with a hearty sense of humour, a contrast to his ring personality.
After retiring from wrestling Jack trained as a Physical Therapist and set up practice in South Wales until his death in the early years of the century.
Bob “Legs” Langevin
Legs Langevin was an adventurous twenty-something when he came from his Canadian home to wrestle in Britain between 1936 and the outbreak of world war two. He went on to a career of almost forty years and travelled extensively, wrestling legendary stars that included Strangler Lewis, Jim Londos, and Lou Thesz. In Britain he shared a ring with top overseas visitors that included Jack Sherry and Karl Pojello as well as domestic stars. Born in Quebec Bob worked as a farm worker and in a brewery before taking up wrestling. Both were physical jobs and developed the enormous strength that was to serve him well in the wrestling rings. At the Montreal YMCA he came under the guidance of pro wrestlers Leo Lefebvre, Frank Sexton and Yvon Roberts. Unsurprisingly the nickname "Legs" resulted from his strong legs and a specialty move, the airplane head scissors, which he claimed was no longer used following his retirement. With the outbreak of war approaching Bob returned to Canada where he joined the Montreal police for the duration of the war. He resumed his wrestling career in 1945 and was to remain working for more than a quarter of a century and then became involved in the promotional side.
Bob Legs Langevin died on October 8th, 2005, aged 91.
Steve Studs Lannigan
A man who was at the front of the queue when the facial hair was dished out. He was a rumbustious Salford heavyweight who fans seemed to enjoy watching but made little long term impact on the wrestling scene. Nevertheless, he did notch up around half a dozen television appearances between 1982 and 1986, so that's not too bad.
He was the Leicester tearaway who turned pro in 1961, billed in the early days as John Howard. Jon was one of the Jack Taylor stable who became a fixture on the midlands and northern independent circuit of the 1960s against the likes of Mick Collins, Ron Marino and Taffy Jenkins. The move across to Joint Promotions in 1970, alongside brother Pete brought national exposure and thousands of more fans to jeer their villainy. He soon became a regular in televised tag matches alongside brother Pete. Fared better in local halls than on the small screen and the brothers had verdicts over established teams such as The White Eagles and The Dennisons. Their tactics didn't go down well with the crowd, particularly in Digbeth where they were always assured a hostile reception.
Pete Lapaque (Pepe Lapaque, Helsinki Express, Young Pierre)
Like his brother Jon, Leicester's Pete Lapaque emerged from the Jack Taylor weekend gymnasium to become an independent regular who went on to find fame on television and throughout the country in Joint Promotion rings.
A youngster on the East Midlands independent scene of the early sixties known variously as Young Pierre, Pierre La Toure, Pierre Du Barry, Pierre Du Prey, Pierre De Roma a quick change of nationality to the Helsinki Express before finding success as Pepe, soon to become anglicised into Peter Lapaque.
Whatever the name, and whether in singles combat or with his brother Pete Lapaque was one of the ring's rogues, in the nicest possible way of course.
A World of Sport regular right up until 1988's final bell, losing against Johnny Saint just six weeks before wrestling disappeared from our television screens.
Frequently disqualified in tag action alongside brother Jon, or as The Rockers with Tommy Lorne. Disqualified even in single combat against Steve Logan. Career highlight must rate as the family's sole tv success when Pete defeated Ricky Wiseman.
Gypsy Guy LaRoche was a rule bending French middleweight who made frequent visits to the United Kingdom during the 1950s. The photograph shows LaRoche about to throw Rene Ben Chemoul from the ring.
One time European and World middleweight champion who visited Britain in the 1950s and early 1960s. In September 1954 he defeated Jack Beaumont at Belle Vue, Manchester, in a bout for the World Middleweight Championship. LaRoche visited Britain during the 1950s and 1960s, wrestling Steve Logan on tv in April, 1962.
Dave Larsen (Also known as Young Hackenschmidt)
The wunderkind of the Paul Lincoln set-up seemed headed for high places as 1966 dawned. Made premature screen appearances whilst working for the independents in the 1962 film The Wrestling Game (he partnered Ray Hunter against Dennis Dean and Don Steadman), and again in 1965 when BBC tv showed wrestling (in London and the South East only) on their new channel, BBC2. Less than a year later he was part of the Paul Lincoln invasion force that made their way into Joint Promotion rings. He featured at home as the blue-eyed golden boy, struggling against villains and particularly regular foe, Steve Haggetty. Lincoln wrestlers had a pathway to Paris and it was in France that Larson wrestled as Batman. But he seemed to go part-time after the 1966 merger and eventually disappeared from the scene completely in the very early seventies.
Billy La Rue