W: Max Ward

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Max Ward

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The iconic Max Ward brought a touch of American style razamatazz as the referee wearing his trademark striped shirt. In 2012 Wrestling Heritage named him the Number 1 Wrestling Official of the Heritage for refereeing duties in which he remained unobtrusive, allowed the wrestlers retain centre stage whilst also enhancing the overall performance.

Yet Max Ward ‘s contribution to wrestling went back much further. Before his unmistakable refereeing style was unleashed on the unsuspecting public by promoter Paul Lincoln Max Ward was a heavyweight wrestler working throughout Britain and travelling to Sweden, Germany and France. We can trace him back to wrestling in 1943 whilst he was serving in the R.A.F. and reported in November by the Hull Daily Mail to have beaten Manuel Trudeau by two faills to one at Madeley Street Baths. By then he was in his early twenties, having been born in Bristol on 23rd July, 1920

A 1950s resident of Halesowen, seven miles from Birmingham on the edge of the industrial heartland Max had the geographical legitimacy for his billing as Midlands Heavyweight Champion, but we have yet to find any reference to any championship matches.

Max continued wrestling until the early 1960s, mainly for Paul Lincoln, one of the main independent promoters. In the early 1960s the bumps were beginning to take their toll on Max's body and he turned referee for Paul Lincoln Management, a role at which he excelled. From time to time Max would be called back to wrestling duties to settle a score with a wrestling villain. In 1963, by which time he was a regular Lincoln referee he said, in Birmingham’s Sports Argus, that he was challenging Dr Death, “I have stood enough of foreign wrestlers coming to Birmingham and taking liberties with me …. I will show how an old-timer deals with masked Americans.” Fans still enjoyed Max back in the ring in the 1970s for a series of referee versus wrestler matches, in which he faced Cyanide Sid Cooper.

Wrestling enthusiast Ballymoss told us: “When Max worked for Paul Lincoln I believe it was part of the show for him to become fully involved and he filled this role brilliantly, particularly when involved with some one like Docker Don Stedman. If he had disqualifed Don or some other top notch heel he often wrote down their name on a notepad and informed them in grave tones that they would be reported to the British Wrestling Federation - hilarious stuff; action which could see the disqalified wrestler demand a re-match, a much needed ingredient with the paucity of wrestlers in the Paul Lincoln stable.”

With the 1966 merger of Paul Lincoln Management and Dale Martin Promotions Max became a popular tv referee and, around 1967 or 1968, became one of the regular referees at the Royal Albert Hall.

Max Ward died in 2002, aged 83, and just two weeks after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Wrestlers Reunion.