A: Jack Ansell, Norman The Butcher, Lee Bronson

The Ansell Family

Jack Ansell
Norman The Butcher
Lee Bronson

Norman Ansell
Norman The Butcher

Norman the Butcher ... one of those evocative names of the All-In wrestling era. He wasn't a big man, weighing around 14 stones, but that didn't prevent him being known as “The KO King of Britain.” Born on 23rd February, 1911 in Wandsworth, London.

Starting out with his family name, Norman Ansell, it seems that his career was progressing at something of a leisurely pace. That is until the creative mind of promoter Atholl Oakeley re-invented Norman as Norman The Butcher, resplendent with trademark yellow trunks, and a yellow dressing gown adorned with a skull and cross bones on the back. Oakeley credits George Boganski as the man who taught Norman how to live up to his name.   

The great black, hairy chest, energy and rough-house tactics made Norman an exciting and hard wrestler if not the most scientific. The image change transformed Norman into one of the top drawing names around the halls, particularly working for promoter Oakeley against other Oakeley men that included Kings Curtis, Jack Pye, Carver Doone, Bulldog Bill Garnon and, of course, Oakeley himself. Norman brought colour into a sport; standing out in a world of larger than life characters.

The Daily Mirror of 5th August, 1932, reported “ugly scenes” following Benny Sherman's victory over Norman.  Following Sherman's win “The Butcher struck out at the referee before he left to the accompaniment of boos and hisses.”  Such scenes were not rare. At the end of the month, in a match against Billy Wood in Nottingham, fans threw beer bottles, oranges and newspapers into the ring and the police escorted Norman to the dressing room whilst Wood was carried shoulder high by the fans. This was after Norman had knocked out Wood with a series of rabbit punches to the back of his head and kicks to the stomach.

Norman appears to have left wrestling in 1948, though for many years later could be seen attending wrestling shows at the Royal Albert Hall, where one day into the ring would enter his son, Lee Bronson.

Norman the Butcher died in 1987.

Jack Ansell
The Wandsworth Whale

When it came to skill and athleticism we guess the nickname “The Wandsworth Whale”  tells us quite a bit about Jack Ansell, Jack was the 16 stone brother of 1930s legend Norman the Butcher. As far as wrestling was concerned Jack was overshadowed by his younger brother. That is hardly surprising as John George Ansell, eldest son of George and Florence, was born on 3rd November, 1894, making him 36 years old when All-In wrestling was introduced to Britain in December, 1930.

Reports suggest that although Jack Ansell wrestled top men like Atholl Oakeley and Bulldog Bill Garnon his age was against him and he was never rated as a top man. He could certainly mix it with men younger than himself. The South African newspaper “The South East Times” reported a match between Jack and Bill Garnon as “Comically brutal.”  The reporter wrote, “They snarled and fought like wild animals. It was nauseating and yet you could not take your eyes off it. It had a filthy fascination I cannot describe.”

Ansell was involved from the start, but seems to have disappeared from our rings by the end of 1935.  In 1939 he was employed as an automobile engineer.

Jack Ansell died on 7th April, 1970.

Lee Bronson

When heavyweight Lee Bronson joined the professional ranks in the early 1970s he seemed to be everywhere. If anyone was destined for the top it was Lee.

The credentials were good, distinguished amateur career at South London's United Club and son of old campaigner Norman the Butcher; the image was good, a fan's favourite if ever there was one, and a collection of early wins over established names. He achieved nationwide prominence going down to Iron Man Steve Logan in his television debut in November 1975.  In subsequent tv bouts the matchmakers made it no easier for Lee, with opponents including Mike Marino, Giant Haystacks  and  Kendo Nagasaki.  With wins over Johnny Yearsley and Pat Roach, and a no contest decision against Wayne Bridges we were still convinced Lee had that star quality. 

It was something of a surprise, therefore, when Bronson was thrown to the lions, so to speak, and matched with Bill Robinson on television when the Lancashire heavyweight returned home from America. Another of wrestling’s mysteries. We fans wanted to watch Robinson against an established heavyweight like Albert Wall or Gwyn Davies, not dampen the rising star.  Lee bronson had all the talent we craved in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but  matchmakers and time connived together to prevent the  fulfilment of that initial promise.

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Reviewed 06/02/2022