WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

N: Mustapha Nasser

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Eastern Mystery

Mustapha Nasser
(Also known as George Thompson, Tiger Shark, Buck Dalton)
The music halls of the 1900s featured Terrible Turks, colourful Continentals and alleged champions from all corners of the world. Nothing had changed by the 1950s, other than in reality most paying customers knew that the man from the middle east may well have travelled from no further east than Bradford.

An ability to wrestle was essential, as was an ability to entertain the fans. The creation of a wrestling persona that captured the imagination of the public was a bonus, admittedly an important one.

Take a look at the man on the right. That’s Mustapha Nasser, champion of Egypt no less, and a man who battled away with some of the best in the business during the 1950s and 1960s. The photo is taken from his membership card of the Wrestling Federation of Great Britain.   The Federation came into existence in 1949, a sort of union with wrestler members paying a subscription and working only with other Federation wrestler members and recognised promoters.

Yet the name on the card is not that of Mustapha Nasser. That’s because although  Mustapha Nasser  looked the part of the archetypal villain from the middle east  a Devonian accent from his place of birth mingled with the Lancashire twang from his new home of Manchester suggested this man was not all he seemed. Hardly surprising, as this was professional wrestling.

The name on the membership card, dated 1st April, 1952, was George Thompson. Not a lot of Eastern mystery in that name.
The west country town of Plymouth  was a hotbed of wrestling in the 1930s, with international stars such as Karl Pojello, Karl Reginsky and Herbie Rosenberg appearing on the twice weekly shows against the domestic talent of Pye, Assirati, Garnon and the like. This was the environment in which George Thompson, born in Devonport on 23rd July, 1919, grew up. Not that George had plans to become a wrestler. A 1930s teenager had other more important things on his mind.  Whatever,  political events overtook everyone's plans with the outbreak of war in September, 1939. George was enlisted into the army and as he  had always kept himself in good shape he was assigned  a Physical Training instructor.

Following the war George found himself in Singapore.  Wrestling was popular in Singapore  in the post war years and it was here that many future stars, especially those from Britain and India, started their careers. Not that it was easy. The heat and humidity were as tough as anyone in the opposing corner. It was in Singapore in 1950 that we uncovered our earliest wrestling engagements for George Thompson. Here he is in 1950 at the Happy World Stadium wrestling  Chota Dara Singh. On another occasion the newspapers advertised “The Tough Britisher” wrestling “The Grand Chinese Matman” Leow Kwong Seng, whilst another opponent was Indian Savaran Singh..
Fast forward to 1951. George returned to Devonport where he met up with a local wrestler, Dick Rogers, known to wrestling fans as Dick the Dormouse. Dick and his wife Jessie (later to promote at Belle Vue in Manchester) were at the time running a boxing  and wrestling booth in the West country. On the look out for talent Dick and Jessie encouraged George to join their troupe of wrestlers, taking on all comers as many as a dozen times a day.  Good money, hard work. Life in the booths was hard (there were usually at least three sessions a day)  irregular money and poor conditions. This was the time George assumed the first of his multiple identities, with all comers invited to take on Buck Dalton. 

George was eager to move in to the professional ranks.  Wrestling booths were good places to learn, but wrestling in the halls was drier, warmer and earned a regular income. Later in the year we find him wrestling in the public halls of Britain using the name Buck Dalton. Family members tell us he also used the name Jack Dalton.

On his local turf we continued to find the name George Thompson on the posters as late as 1953, described as a heavyweight with good physique and agility, wrestling the Black Panther and Robert McDonald.

In the early 1950s the wrestling landscape was changing and for George Thompson  new identities were emerging.

George was a member of the Wrestling Federation of Great Britain, signed up to wrestle only for WFGB promoters. In 1952 a new organisation was formed, Joint Promotions. They  also sought the  loyalty of their wrestlers, demanding they agree to wrestle exclusively  for their own members.

The solution for wrestlers was  to acquire dual identities and we find George as the Indian wrestler Tiger Shark on the Joint Promotion posters and Mustapha Nasser, champion of Egypt, working for the opposition, independent WFGB promoters.

Around this time George moved to Manchester. By 1953 George was  travelling up and down the country facing the likes of Alf Cadman, Alf Rawlings, Charlie Scott, Horst Hoffman and Francis Sullivan.  He was making a name for himself as a wrestler who “knotted up” the arms of his opponents to leave them helpless, a manoeuvre popularised again  by Al Marquette in the 1970s.

By 1957 we find George working exclusively for the independent promoters, using both the names Tiger Shark and the villainous Mustapha Nasser.   He travelled  throughout the country working for  promoters such as Jack Taylor and Paul Lincoln facing top independents of the day.  Not only champion of Egypt George was now allegedly one of King Farouk’s bodyguards. What a wonderful world of wrestling!

Mustapha Nasser  retired from the ring in 1964 whilst George Thompson continued with his work as a chef in a convalescent home. Not that his influence in wrestling disappeared as he travelled to Offam, Nr Lewes, to train youngsters with an interest in Wrestling.  

George Thompson died  on 1st September, 1990.

Page added 25/10/2020