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L: Maurice LaRue

Maurice LaRue

Majestic Magnificence

Our memories of Maurice LaRue tell us that if honours were given for posing and preening this man would have championship belts galore. The blond Australian bombshell strutted his stuff in a way that was guaranteed to enrage the fans on the way towards his frequent disqualification. We waited impatiently for La Rue’s pre match routine to end and the wrestling to begin. Yet when the bell rang for the first round little changed and the already hostile fans became even more enraged as Maurice preferred to pose rather than wrestle.

The year was 1970 and Maurice La Rue was working in Britain as part of an extensive tour that included North and South America and the Far East. He  arrived in May, 1970. Early matches were for Dale Martin Promotions and promoters seemed unsure exactly where to place him. We find him wrestling Jackie Pallo at the beginning of May, an odd pairing of prima donnas in which Maurice must have outweighed Mr TV Pallo by a couple of stones. Johnny Kwango was another early opponent and then we find him against tough northern heavy Jim Hussey. From welterweight Vic Faulkner to heavyweight Ray Glendenning with McManus, Czeslaw, Logan, Masambula, Zimba,  Tibor, Marino, Viedor, Wall, Nagasaki and Andy Robin in between there was certainly variety for Maurice LaRue. The visit lasted for nine months with our last sighting in January,1971.

We were told that Maurice LaRue was a former Australian light heavyweight champion, but saw little evidence of the skills of a champion as he was over-reliant on skulduggery, which led to the disqualification exit when we saw him wrestling Les Kellett, Judo Al Hayes and Pete Roberts.  Remember, though that this was professional wrestling; a world where wins usually counted for little and every character had a role to play. It was a role that Maurice LaRue played well. The publicity claimed that he was also a lifeguard in Sydney, which may have been true or may have been wrestling codology. The claim that he had twice wrestled for Her Majesty the Queen was certainly in the latter category.

Graham Brooks also remembers watching Maurice LaRue: 
“Maurice La Rue made a huge impact upon me. His colourful costume, his arrogant strut, his preening and disregard for the audience. Fantastic! The first time I saw him was at The Gaiety Theatre, Rhyl, on a Wryton show. His opponent was Terry O'Neil, and O'Neil was the blue eye. The second time I saw La Rue was in a tag match at The kings Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester. La Rue was partnered by Steve Haggetty and they fought  a twenty minute time limit draw against Tony St.Clair and Johnny Eagles. The show was the final one of the year before Belle Vue gave its Kings Hall space over to Bertram Mills circus for the Christmas period. The circus ring had already been set up with the wrestling ring inside it so this meant that the wrestlers were further away from the punters than usual and I recall La Rue particularly using the extra performance space this allowed him to create mayhem.”

In his native Australia Maurice La Rue had started out in the early 1960s, known as Murphy the Surfie and Murphy the Magnificent.  To his mum he was Norman.

The man behind the hair colouring was Norman Lowndes, born in Australia on 3rd July,1936. 

Ed Lock told us, 
“Norman Lowndes began wrestling in the licensed clubs of Sydney, Australia as Murphy the Surfie in the early 1960s. He retained the Surfie moniker when he made the step up for Jim Barnett's World Championship Wrestling promotion in Australia but was renamed as Murphy the Magnificent in 1969. In the USA in the 1970s and 1980s Lowndes worked as Norman Frederick Charles III, teaming with his “cousin” Lord Jonathan Boyd (aka ‘Pretty Boy’ Johnny Boyd) as the ‘Royal Kangaroos’.” 

January 1971 wasn’t the last that British fans saw of Norman Lowndes. He returned in 1981 to work for Max Crabtree. There was no sign of Maurice LaRue. This time he was under a very different guise with the name Wild Red Berry (not to be confused with the American wrestler of the same name).  Again there was a wide range of opponents during a tour that lasted a whole year but inevitably his fate went the same way as many others as he became a Big Daddy fall guy.

Following his retirement he settled into a well earned retirement in Florida. 

Norman Lowndes died in August, 2019, aged 83.

Page added: 24/08/2019