WRESTLING HERITAGE

P: Louis Pergantes


Louis Pergantes
The Masked Man
The Masked Wrestler
The Masked Marvel

Louis Pergantes had been wrestling for over ten years when he wrestled in Britain from1936 until 1938, which may well have been the twilight of his career. We find him in the United States from 1919 until 1927, at which time he moved on to Australia. Graeme Cameron fills in that period and tells us Louis spent three years in Australia (1927-29) before heading to the UK. Graeme told us that in Australia, he scored wins over two wrestlers well known to Heritage readers, Henry Irslinger and George Boganksi. He also defeated Australian heavyweight champion Billy Meeske and American Walter Miller, who had claimed the world welterweight title in his homeland some years earlier. Losses also to Irslinger, Boganski and Meeske as well as former Australian heavyweight champion Clarence Weber and Americans Ted Thye and Mike Yokel who claimed world titles at light heavyweight and middleweight respectively.


A year-long tournament was held in Australia in 1928 to determine an undisputed world light heavyweight champion in which Pergantes took part.


Pergantes arrived in Britain in February, 1936, His contest at the Blackfriars Ring against Mitchell Gill on 27th February was advertised as his British debut and we can find no earlier record. The following evening he was back in the ring at Liverpool, but there was no Pergantes name on the poster.


Fans stood and cheered for several minutes Scotland’s Tony Baer had just beaten The Masked Man. The Masked Man had appeared the cleverer of the two wrestlers and was unfortunate in his loss. This resulted after a failed attempt by the masked wrestler to body slam Baer. Baer fell on top of the masked man and secured a fall. The masked wrestler removed the hood to reveal the features of Louis Pergantes.


There is a mystery behind that Blackfriars debut though. Isn't there always a mystery where wrestling is concerned?


Four weeks earlier, on 30th January another masked man had appeared on the scene. With claims that he was an amateur who wanted to show an amateur could outdo a professional he laid out a challenge in Portsmouth. The challenge was accepted by local wrestler George Finnie.


He beat George Finnie and returned the following month to defeat the more formidable Mitchell Gill. It was up another notch in March with George Clark in the opposite corner, and the result a draw. At the end of March it was the chance of George Gregory, who also held the masked man to a draw. Having drawn with the two top heavyweights in the country it was announced that the masked wrestler would voluntarily reveal his identity on the night he wrestled American Frank Judson. In April 1936 the winning run came to an end when he was beaten and unmasked by Judson. He was no amateur. He was veteran Louis Pergantes.


An unmasked Pergantes continued to display a lot of skill around the country, most of the matches we have uncovered being in the south of England. Victories included those over skilled men like Dave Armstrong and Francis St Clair Gregory, powerful Mitchell Gill and Bert Mansfield and showman Jack Pye.


Whilst in Britain he and Jan Gotch appeared in the comedy film O-Kay for Sound as All-In wrestlers, launched in February, 1937.Described as a “hairy specimen” by the press we have found a report of a match against Joe DeValto when DeValto was disqualified for repeatedly plucking hairs from Louis’ chest.


Louis Pergantes worked British rings until 1938.Our last sighting was in August of that year when he appeared on Earl McCready's financially unsuccessful attempt to re-establish Catch as Catch Can style with a show at the Royal Albert Hall.


Curiosity got the better of Graeme Cameron, the sort of curiosity that has got Heritage where it is today, "I found a record for Greek wrestler names John Pergantes wrestling in America in the 1880's (possibly Louis Pergantes' father) and another Greek-American boxer also named John Pergantes who was active in America in the same period as Louis Pergantes was wrestling (possibly another relative). All of his match records prior to 1927 are in America. I can't be 100% on this but I've come to the conclusion that Louis Pergantes was the American-born son of Greek immigrants who mostly was billed as a Greek but sometimes changed his first name to Luis and portrayed a Spaniard. A curious thing is that there are no match records for him from 1930-1937, then he turns up in the UK."



Page added 24/04/2022