WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

M: Maxine - McDonald

Wrestling Heritage A-Z 

Rex Maxine (Also known as Max Rexine, Freddie Rex, Ted Elliott)

A man of mystery. Discussions of Rex Maxine through the years had yielded little information until his family got in touch to provide some details. We knew that he had been an active worker from 1937 until the early 1950s, had used used a variety of names, but that was about all. Rex Maxine, Freddie Rex, Max Rexine, the use of so many names obscures the significance of this man during his fifteen year career. 

Not in the Bert Assirati or Douglas Clark class the records that exist suggest that here was a man who could hold his own with the likes of Vic Hessle, Frank Manto and Tarzan Hunter.  Wrestling fans understand that pro wrestling isn't just about winning. Here was a man who could get work all over the country, and lots of it.

Whatever the name on the poster the promoters of the 1930s doggedly stuck to a place of origin, Bulgaria (with an occasional variation of Australia, South Africa or the USA). We know promoters were economical with the truth, but Bulgaria? Where did this come from?  The family had no idea either. They assured us Rex Maxine was Yorkshire born and bred, there was no connection with Bulgaria, Australia or South Africa.  

Born in Wombwell, a small town five miles from Barnsley, in 1906 with a birth name of John Leonard Bradbury, he was known to family and friends as Len.

In 1926 he married and the couple celebrated the birth of a son two years later. A second child was born  in 1930, followed by tragedy when Len's wife, Doris, died a few weeks later. Tragedy struck again, in 1931, with the death of Len's fourteen month old daughter.  

By this time Len was boxing around south Yorkshire, already with an assumed name, Freddie Rex. We first find him in March, 1931, beating Billy Rodgers on points at the Empire Palace, Grimethorpe. . In 1933 we come across him on a combined boxing and wrestling show, where he beat Young Devaney in a boxing match where the bill was topped by his neighbour, Jack Pye, in a wrestling contest.

We come across the name Freddie Rex on wrestling posters in  May, 1937, and Rex Maxine in October of the same year. The two names appear on bills simultaeneously throughout the 1940s, along with the occasional Rexine and other variations. Different names in different halls it seems. 

Then there was Ted Ellliott. We can find only eleven recorded bouts for Ted Elliott, all of them at Preston. Then on his twelfth appearance, on 1st September, 1939, we find Preston promoters advertising Rex Maxine (formerly Ted Elliott). So it seems we can add another name to the list.

In a match against the stylish Costas Astreos the newspaper reported, "A tip top bout was that between Costas Astreos, of Greece, and Freddie Rex, of Doncaster. The first and second rounds were drawn. Rex took the third with a body slam and press in 1 minute and 5 seconds. The Greek took the third with a body press in 2 minutes 27 seconds. The fifth and sixth rounds were drawn and he contest ended with a draw of one fall each."

In the 1940s the promoters dropped the nonsense of Bulgaria and Aussie Maxine, giving credit to the county of his birth. The last match we uncovered was in June, 1951, wrestling Mike Marino.

Grandaughter Sarah, who joined us in the forum, said. "I have many fond memories of the big man, he was deaf as a post due to his enormous cauliflower ears, but we always had a giggle."

Len Bradbury, also known as Rex Maxine and others,  died in 1992.

Earl "Mr. Universe" Maynard

Barbados born heavyweight Earl Maynard was a wrestler with muscles on his muscles. A wrestler with a fine physique who took up body-building  as a  seventeen year old in 1954.  He won the Mr Europe title in 1959, Mr England in 1960, Mr Universe Pro in 1964, and 1978 Mr America title. Not bad considering that he weighed under ten stones when he  moved to England aged eighteen years. Shortly afterwards he was called up for national service and after serving in the Royal Air Force Earl turned professional wrestler in 1962. He went on to become one of the most popular and successful sixties wrestlers in Britain and Europe before finding even greater success in the United States. Twice American Tag Champion (with Rocky Johnson and Dory Dixon) Earl was listed as one of the WWE top wrestlers of all time.  Following his retirement from wrestling Earl turned to acting, and appeared in many films before turning to film producing and directing.


Jackie McCann
Jackie McCann wowed the fans in the 1980s, winning the BWA championship in the process. In 1987 she defeated Stella Fox to take the title and held it until her retirement in 1989. A superb wrestler with power and skill Jackie was one of the top female wrestlers of the 1980s. Retiring as undefeated British champion wasn’t quite the end of the road for Jackie who made a one-off return to the ring in 2008, an exciting match with Shelby Beach. Jackie’s interest in wrestling is no lessened today, as an enthusiastic wrestling historian and founder of the Blackpool Wrestlers Reunion.

Roy McClarty (Also known as Sir Garth McClarty)
Canadian Roy McClarty was thirty years old and had been wrestling professionally for less than a year when he visited Europe in July, 1948. For twelve months he wrestled in Britain and the Continent, sometimes billed as Sir Garth McClarty, mostly in the north of England and Scotland. British opponents included the top heavyweights of the time Ernest Baldwin, Robert McDonald, The Ghoul and Hassan Ali Bey amongst them. His obituary notice stated that he had been born in Expance, Saskatchewan on 31st July, 1918 and served as a Sergeant with the Canadian Army during World War 2. His wrestling career continued in North America and Japan  until the early 1970s. Roy McClarty sied on 27th April, 1998.
Kid McCoy
Teenage sensation Mark Boothman adopted the name Kid McCoy when he followed his father, King Ben, from the classroom  into the wrestling rings of Britain.  Mark came from a farming family with a farm in Silsden, near Keighley, Yorkshire. Father and son faced each other  in the finals of the 1988 Golden Grappler tournament, with dad coming out on top. On other occasions the Kid and the King shared a tag rope as one of Britain's most popular 1980s teams. In 1987 Kid McCoy surprised many pundits when he snatched the British lightweight championship from Steve Grey and held on to it until he retired undefeated three years later. Kid McCoy also held World lightweight champion Johnny Saint to a draw when he challenged Saint for his World belt. 

Tim McCoy
Not to be confused with the American actor and wrestling coach, our Tim McCoy was born in Dublin and comes from a much earlier age. Our first recorded bout for  Irishman Tim is in 1938 when he would have been in his early twenties.

Most of his contests seemed to be in the north and midlands of England, though he did venture over to Germany following the Second World War.He wrestled everyone from middleweights to heavyweights, and in 1948 lost to Jack Beaumont when challenging for the British light heavyweight title. 

Tim continued to wrestle until the mid 1950s.

Earl McCready (Canada)
One of the huge stars of Canadian wrestling Earl McCready came to Britain in the 1930s. His wish was revive Catch as Catch can style and promoted a Catch show at the Royal Albert Hall in August, 1938. McCready appeared in the main event against  19 stone 6'2” tall Texan by the name Reuben Wright.  McCready and his friend, Kevin Staunton, invested £600 in the tournament, of which Daily Express reporter, John McAdam, said the wrestling was so good it had converted him to the wrestling business.  Three thousand fans turned up to witness McCready win by one fall to nil in the sixth round. That just wasn't enough to prevent McCready and Staunton losing most of their investment. For once the press were sympathetic, but McCready left Britain shortly afterwards to regain his losses wrestling in South Africa. 

McCready had represented Canada in the Freestyle heavyweight class in the 1928 Olympic Games (finishing 6th), and was a Gold medal winner in the 1930 Empire Games. In 1933 he defeated Canadian Jack Taylor to win the British Empire Heavyweight Championship.. In July the BBC National Programme (radio) broadcast the Empire Catch as Catch Can Heavyweight Championship contest between champion Earl McCready and Tim Estelle. In the 1950s he was one of the biggest stars of Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling Promotions until he retired in 1958

Earl McCready (Doncaster)
He may have acquired the name from a more famous Canadian, but Doncaster's Earl McCready was a stylish and skilful middleweight on the independent circuit in the 1960s. The technical accomplishment was, no doubt, due to him being the son of heavyweight Dai Sullivan. Earl was one of the wrestlers featured in the short lived BBC venture into televising wrestling, meeting Tony Rocca in the televised show from Southend in January, 1965. He was advertised as “TV star” for a some time afterwards.  Earl worked for major independent promoters including Don Robinson, Jack Taylor, Eric Taylor and Cape Promotions. Seen at his best against fellow high flyers such as Johnny Saint and Boy Devlin.

Jim McCrombie (Also known as Rob Roy McGregor)
Scotland's Jim McCrombie moved to the North East of England from his native Scottish home of Stirling. Settled in Newcastle he worbked for a bakery and later moved to Gateshead where he worked at Thornes Electricals. In Newcastle Jim trained at the gymnasium of Walter McCrae and Ted Gutteridge the body builder.

He learned to wrestle in the fairground booths of the north and regularly took on challenges in Ron Taylor's wrestling booths. They were hard days taking on challengers five or six times a day, but the experience gave Jim a robustness and confidence to make his way in wrestling.

Jim worked for independent promoters during the 1960s and 1970s wrestling mainly in the north east, but sometimes travelling further afield. A villain in his early days Jim McCrombie later turned blue eye. Whatever the style he was always colourful, the kilted Scot accompanied to the ring by two or more pipers, marching round the hall to the cheering and clapping accompaniment of the fans.

A genuinely hard man he had a reputation amongst fellow wrestlers as an opponent who was relentless and aggressive. Jim kept himself fit and was attending his local gym until a few months before he died in May, 2010.

Alex McDonald
Alex McDonald was a wrestler from Guisborough who learned the business at the St Lukes Club.  His first engagements were in charity events put on by the St Lukes Club, but later he turned professional working for independent promoters in the first half of the 1960s..  He had his own gymnasium, the Alexandra Wrestling Club in Cannon Street, Middlesbrough. Alex died at too early an age, just 36.

Bob McDonald (Middlesbrough)
Bob McDonald was a part time wrestler  who worked mostly in the clubs of North East of England for independent promoters that included Cyril Knowles, Rommy Stones and Ian Glasper.  Born in Middlesbrough  Bob was trained at  the Alexandra Wrestling Club in Cannon Street, owned by his cousin Alex,  and later St Lukes Amateur Matmen, Middlesbrough before starting his paid contests in 1969. He made a striking appearance in his trademark white jacket, white trunks and white boots.  A coalman by day Bob was also a doorman at a number of Middlesbrough night clubs.  He was for many years a pub licensee and  the landlord of The Fountain in Ormasby and The Master Cooper at Acklam. Bob McDonald was born in 1949 and died on 26th April, 2020.

Colin McDonald
A hard man who gained the respect of world lightweight champion Johnny Saint. Manchester' s Colin worked throughout the north and midlands for independent promoters in the late 1950s and 1960s. He was a bit of a tough nut in the ring and a man who we are told could turn his hand to all sorts of things outside. Colin and Johnny Saint became good friends in the late 1950s when both trained at Grant Foderingham's gymnasium. Colin was already a professional  and was Saint's first professional opponent at Tynemouth in June, 1959. One claim to fame for this otherwise largely forgotten welterweight, he was the man who gave his young friend the idea of adopting the name Johnny Saint. Colin McDonald died suddenly at far too early an age.

Drew McDonald
The wild highlander has succeeded in the world of professional wrestling during the most difficult of decades.  One of a handful of the modern day stars who has his roots well and truly in the Mountevans tradition we celebrate here Drew has found success throughout Europe and the United States. 

Drew was trained by middleweight Ian Law and made his debut against that other big highlander, Wild Angus, stepping in as a last minute substitute. In 1984 Drew joined Joint Promotions and in the years that followed had the dubious distinction of tagging with both Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Coming into British wrestling at a time when it was in decline Drew travelled the world with notable success in North America and Germany, where he is particularly popular. 

Success in Britain was sustained over three decades with Drew twice holding the British heavyweight title , a lineage can be traced back to Joyce, Robinson and Assirati.  Drew would no doubt have made it to the top at any time in modern wrestling history.

The wrestling fraternity was shocked by the death of Drew at far too early an age. He was just 59 years old when he succumbed to cancer, aged 59 years.

Drew McDonald, born Charles Shaw at Perth, Scotland on 16 June 1955, died 9th February, 2015

28/02/2021 Roy McClarty added