One of the great names of 1930s wrestling about whom there's more mystery than any masked man. Margerich Anaconda was billed as "The Swedish Scissors King." Well he must have been pretty good at keeping his mouth shut to keep up that pretence.
He appeared on the British wrestling scene in the 1930s, was seen around the country against all the top men throughout the decade and continued wrestling until the 1950s. A giant of a man, standing over six feet tall and weighing 17 stones, he was a national worker who travelled the length and breadth of Britain facing the biggest names of the time: Atholl Oakeley, Jack Pye, Ray St Bernard and Mitchell Gill.
Claims were made that he held World Heavyweight Champion Jack Sherry to a draw but although the two were opponents we have been unable to verify this.
However mythical the weight proportions or the accomplishments there is no doubt that he was one of the big names of 1930s wrestling. Anaconda also featured on BBC television (listed as Harry Anaconda) demonstrating wrestling in 1938, 1939, 1946 and 1947 with Charlie Green, Dave Armstrong, Bert Assirati Alan Muir and Harry Brooks.
We come across Anaconda for the first time in 1934, already labelled the "Scissors King" and said to originate in Sweden. A man of great strength he was also clearly a man of some skill and stamina, wrestling six ten minute rounds being no rarity. In a 1935 match at Bradford against arguably the best of the time, Douglas Clark, it was in the fourteenth round that Anaconda stormed out of the ring after the referee disallowed a fall that he believed had been fairly won.
Our belief that Anaconda was Henry John Purvis of Hammersmith has been confirmed by the research of Ron Historyo. Ron discovered that Henry John Purvis, known as the wrestler Anaconda, was a witness in the court case of Bankier v Mortimer case and stated that to wrestle in the 1930's for William Bankier he was paid £5 per show. In the 1930s Anaconda possessed a full head of hair, but was shaven headed following the war, more suited to his villainous film roles.
Historian Allan Best also recalls Anaconda, "The "Giant Anaconda that I watched in the 40's and 50's really was a giant,with shaven head. He often played a "heavy" in films, usually based in darkest London.I know nothing of him although he was a bill-topper. The last time that I saw him was on the pier at Fleetwood I would guess around 1945."
Understandably his ring appearances reduced in the early 1940s during the Second World War, but the only year we find him absent was 1943. Post war the name Anaconda remained on bills until 1954.
Heritage member Ray Noble was one of our members who saw Anaconda in action. He remembers the giant wrestling former world heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera at Belle Vue in October, 1954. Ray was walking through the gardens at Belle Vue when he saw Carnera standing beside a massive imitation rock. Ray remembers to this day the excitement of going over and chatting with the big Italian who towered above him. Shortly afterwards Carnera was towering over Anaconda, having won by by a knock out.
Purvis was in the 1955 wrestling film "A Kid for Two Farthings". He was famous for the leg scissors and the the star of that film, Primo Carnera, whose ring name was The Python, a clear nod to Anaconda, also used the leg scissors. He also appeared in Hue and Cry (1947), Street of Shadows (1953) an I Am a Camera (1955).
Henry John Purvis was born in London in 1895 and died in 1978.
There's much more to the private life of Anaconda. For that you will need to log in to read Ron Historyo's story of On The Trail.
Related articles: On The Trail of Anaconda
Page added: 29/1/17