WRESTLING HERITAGE

Promoters: I- L


Wrestling Heritage Promoters A - Z


I

Independent Promoters (or The Opposition)

A collective name for any promoter who operated outside of the Joint Promotion organisation. Also known as opposition promoters or The Opposition.


Independent Promotions (Tommy Whelan)

We know little about Bradford's Tommy Whelan, and back in the 1960s saw a show of his advertised only once, at Blackburn with Sheik Michael Taylor topping the bill. We have been told that he was instrumental in bring the Bholu brothers to Britain on one of their visits but cannot substantiate this. Independent Promoters shows we have since discovered have been mostly in Yorkshire.


Independent Joint Promotions

Ray Fury was well known to television fans in 1969 when they were shocked to hear that he had gone into business with fellow Joint Promotions wrestlers Frank Rimer and Tony Scarlo and would henceforth be cunningly known as Independent Joint Promotions.


Their shows were first rate and created quite a buzz of excitement amongst fans when the company was formed.


They used the best talent available on the independent circuit, men like Josef Zaranoff and Farmer Johnny Allan. Take a look at the poster on the left. Every one of those wrestlers would have been well known to Dale Martin's regular fans at the time.


Inter-Continental Promotions (Isle of Man)

There was a lively wrestling scene on the Isle of Man in the late sixties and early seventies.George Barnabus opened a wrestling gymnasium and trained a number of local boys, including Phil Barry, Mike Young and Bill Kennedy amongst others. Needing somewhere to display their talents it was necessary to form Inter-Continental Promotions, who organised tournaments around the island from their Douglas office.


Inter Continental Promotions, (Winchester)

1970s Winchester based promoters who were members of the British Wrestling Alliance.

See also British Wrestling Alliance.


International Promotions (Olympic International Promotions)

One of the biggest names on the independent wrestling circuit was Accrington’s JackTaylor and one of the biggest promotions was his Leicester based International Promotions. Pat Roach acknowledged his entry into the paid ranks and subsequent successes would have been very unlikely without the encouragement and knowledge of Jack Taylor. Not unlike a modern soccer scout Taylor would travel around the country seeking out promising young athletes to invite along to his gym in Granby Road, Leicester.


He promoted regularly throughout the North and Midlands, with the Granby Hall, Leicester being one of his main venues for over twelve years. His influence spread further afield by matchmaking for other independent promoters. When Birmingham promoter Lew Phillips became disillusioned with boxing he chose to go into the thriving wrestling business. Well aware of his own lack of experience in this field he turned to Jack Taylor to act as a mentor and matchmaker for his new business.


Not unlike a modern soccer scout Taylor would travel around the country seeking out promising young athletes to invite along to his gym in Leicester. In Leicester they would be given a try-out against an established professional before a decision was made whether or not they were worthy of further investment.


Training at the Taylor gym gave a good foundation for a professional career, and for most that meant starting out on the independent circuit. At his peak in the 1960s Jack had three rings and promoted up to three shows around the country every night of the week.


Jack continued promoting on a reduced scale into the early years of the 21st century.

See also British Wrestling Federation and Wrestling Federation of Great Britain


International Wrestling Syndicate

A group of promoters in London, Oakeley and Irslinger amongst them, were known as the International Wrestling Syndicate and had grand plans of working together and building an empire across the country. Their aspirations were more to do with profit than collective responsibility. This was the same group that in 1933 informed Douglas Clark that they recognised Oakeley as All-In Style British Heavyweight Champion even though Clark had beaten Oakeley and won the title under Catch as Catch Can rules in 1931. The Syndicate told Clark that in October 1933 they would require him to defend his Catch as Catch Can title against the winner of an elimination tournament. Furthermore, Clark would be required to enter an elimination tournament to fight the All-In champion Oakeley, who they had apparently unilaterally nominated as champion. Needless to say, Clark did not co-operate.


Henry Irslinger

See British Wrestling Association and International Wrestling Syndicate


William Isherwood

William Isherwood and T Bretherton started promoting at Turton Street Stadium in Bolton shortly after the foundry was converted to a stadium in 1935.


J

JC Promotions

See Premier Northern Wrestling Promotions


Jack Jefferson

See North Western Promotions (O’Shea Enterprises)


Jerry Jeary Promotions

Jerry was a midlands promoter who presented both outright independent shows and others in co-operation with Joint Promotions in Birmingham and around the Black Country. His main venues were Birmingham Indoor Sports Stadium, Dudley Hippodrome, and Erdington Stadium. He was around from many years from around 1947 until the mid 1960’s. There was controversy in 1949 when objections from the Sunday Observance Society led to the cancellation of his Sunday lunchtime shows in Erdington. He owned the lease for Dudley Hippodrome from 1959 until 1964. Jerry’s wrestling programmes were headed with the phrase “Wrestling – the men’s sport that women admire.” Fans of the time have recalled Jerry standing ringside as the wrestlers entered the hall calling out “Wheel ‘em in.”


Johanfesson

The veteran wrestler also promoted wrestling. On one occasion, during the debate about Sunday wrestling, Johanfesson challenged two clergymen to get into the ring and face him in an all-in wrestling bout. The challenge was not accepted. In 1939 we have found Johanfesson named as the proprietor of Ace Promotions.


Black Butcher Johnson

See Ring Promotions


Joint Promotions
Joint Promotions evolved from the British Wrestling Promoters Association, a group of post war promoters with grand plans to revitalise the sport and create a family friendly product acceptable to enthusiasts of all ages. They divided the country into territories that one of the group would control employing wrestlers who were willing to work exclusively for their organisation. They were to be successful in their aims for a quarter of a century.


Joint Promotions consisted of:

  • Dale Martin Promotions
  • Norman Morrell Ltd
  • Globe Promotions (Ted Beresford)
  • Morrell-Beresford Promotions
  • Relwyskow & Green Promotions
  • Wryton Promotions
  • Bill Best Promotions
  • Best Wryton Promotions


Joint Promotions was formed in March 1952, with the registered office in Toller Lane, Bradford. The four directors at the start were Norman Morrell, Ted Beresford, George De Relwyskow and Arthur Wright. Dale Martin Promotions and Bill Best were to become members of the organisation in January, 1953, with John Abbey (Dale), Bill Best, Leslie Martin and Arthur Green joining the Board of Directors.


The Directors, or their representative, met once a month to discuss management issues and determine the bookings of the organisation's main event wrestlers. They managed the organisation with efficiency, some would say ruthless efficiency.


Over the years Joint Promotions attracted criticism from their competitors and some of those who worked for them. The wrestlers who worked for Joint Promotions were only allowed to work for the cartel, and anyone failing to abide by this rule could be summarily dismissed. Promoters setting up in opposition to Joint Promotions could expect vigorous reprisals. Whilst much of the criticism was valid the fact remains that the Joint Promotion members were responsible for the huge commercial success of professional wrestling in Britain for a quarter of a century. Their vision was to create a mass market sporting entertainment that was inoffensive and would appeal to a family audience. They sought to produce a high quality product that was accepted as a legitimate sport, replacing disorder with national organisation and discipline. In this respect they were very successful.


The Directors were mostly men with successful amateur careers and a love for professional wrestling. By clearly acknowledging their wrestling credentials on their programmes these men aligned themselves personally to any criticism of the professional wrestling business and fiercely rebuked such critics. When Lisners and Branch exposed them in the News of The World they aggressively and publicly challenged the accusations, and when Atholl Oakeley criticised the modern style they took legal action to acquire a public apology. Their passion for bringing real change extended to creating a new identity for wrestling by changing the rules of the sport to attract more followers.


Quality posters advertised their tournaments, there were frequent reminders of the origins of the Mount Evans rules and the authority these suggested, MCs wore dinner jackets, officials had an air of authority, and the ring and layout of the hall were always of a high standard.


Through innovation, consistency and quality Joint Promotion became the standard bearers for professional wrestling, and their position was cemented when they were awarded an exclusive contract to provide tournaments for independent television.


Each of the companies was independently owned until 1964 when the Hurst Park syndicate bought the biggest member, Dale Martin Promotions. Fortunately for wrestling the current owners, the Abbey and Martin families, were to remain in operational control until 1971.


Directorship of Joint Promotions was to remain remarkably consistent for seventeen years. Arthur Green resigned in November, 1969, followed in 1972 by Arthur Wright, Bill Best, Norman Morrell and Ted Beresford. The men with vision and passion were reaching retirement age and relinquishing their roles. Most of those that replaced them, which included Mick McManus, Martin Conroy and Max Crabtree were men steeped in wrestling tradition, but things would never be the same again.


Independent promoter Max Crabtree was employed to manage the northern promotions from 1975, and a couple of years later he took over management of the Dale Martin shows, expanding the Dale Martin brand to the midlands and north.


Crabtree’s innovations brought a short lived revival to a business that was already ailing. With many of the biggest attractions joining the independents in the 1980s the influence of Joint Promotions began to wane and eventually their stranglehold on wrestlers’ exclusive contracts was broken. A management buy-out led to Max Crabtree taking ownership of Joint Promotions in 1986.


By then the decline in wrestling’s popularity was out of control, and in 1988 Joint lost their exclusive rights to televised wrestling.


Joint Promotions Ltd was dissolved on 27th October, 1992, along with it's only remaining constituent parts: Dale Martin Promotions, Best-Wryton Promotions and Relwyskow-Green Promotions.


Joint Promotions Associates

A number of promoters were permitted to present wrestling shows in association with Joint Promotions, using Joint Promotion wrestlers. Many of those listed also presented their own independent shows at other times:


  • Jack Atherton
  • Max Crabtree
  • Conrad Davis
  • Devereux
  • Jerry Jeary
  • Peter Keenan
  • Sammy King
  • Johnny Peters
  • Billy Riley
  • Billy Shinfield
  • Frank Woodhouse

Nat Joseph

Irish boxing promoter who followed William Bankier in 1939 as promoter at both the Kings Hall and Ulster Hall in Belfast. Whether he took over from Bankier or worked in partnership we don't know. He was around for no more than a year until Jim Rice took over.


Harry Joyce
See Devereux Promotions


Ken Joyce
See Devereux Promotions



K

Peter Keenan

The one time British and European boxing champion went on to promote boxing and wrestling in Scotland. He brought Randolph Turpin to his Scottish wrestling in 1960 and also worked at times in conjunction with George DeRelwyskow particularly known for big name shows in Paisley and Glasgow. In 1964 the Sunday Mirror reported Keenan was making more money from wrestling than he was from his boxing shows.


Les Kellett

Wrestler Les Kellett was the promoter at the Borough Hall in Hartlepool in 1947. In the 1970s he promoted in partnership with Eric Taylor.


Vic Kendrick
See Midlands Entertainment Agency


George Kidd

See Matsport Promotions


Sammy King

Sammy King promoted wrestling in the 1940s and continued into the 1960s working in association with Dale Martin Promotions.


Cyril Knowles

See Northern International Promotions (Cyril Knowles)


Reggie Kray

Heritage members James Morton and Ballymoss enlightened us to Reggie Kray's involvement in British wrestling.


James told us, "Kray seems to have promoted at York Hall a couple of times. On 26 January The first top of the bill was to be Assirati v Great Karloff but Bert withdrew and instead Ed Martinson appeared and won on a disq in round 5. The other results were Woolf bt Radcliffe; Chic Linton beat Rafael Sanchez. Levecq bt Jack Arkwright. The previous week 19 January there had been a bill in Canning Town (Empress Promotions) when Johnny Drake bt Sanchez, Crusher Kramer bt Blackburn Roberts. Woolf bt Radcliff and Pedro beat Linton. The promoters were described as 'a group of local businessmen'. "


Ballymoss added: "The most famous promotion staged by Reggie Kray at the York Hall in Bethnal Green was a special charity night attended by several one time world boxing champions and show business celebrities, eager to be seen with the notorious twins. Top of the bill was a contest between Kray associate Bobby Ramsey (once an accomplished boxer but by now past his prime) and wrestler Roy "Chopper" Levecq. Presumably this was a mixture of boxing and wrestling and presumably Levecq may have hailed from one of the famous boxing and wrestling booths that at that time were still frequently seen at fairs around the country."


Kray himself was not actively involved in putting on the wrestling shows but recruited professionals inside the business, one of whom was Tony Scarlo.


L

Mike Landis

Wrestler, referee and promoter Mike Landis staged many wrestling shows in Lancashire, Cheshire and Derbyshire in the 1960s, giving a break to young hopefuls like Colin Joynson.


Harold Lane

Harold Lane was an entrepreneur who popularised wrestling by presenting shows at the London Sports Club (popularly known as Lanes). Lane was the manager of the London Sports Club which was owned by a Glaswegian named Tommy Gordon, another friend of Atholl Oakeley. Lane did not have a wrestling background and it seems that professional wrestlers provided vital support in managing the events, Bob Gregory was matchmaker for Lane at one time. His enthusiasm for wrestling was, however, instrumental in popularising the sport on Britain. He was keen to stage the first matches, and his significance in wrestling history should not be underestimated, offering wrestlers who took part the training facilities of the club and went on to stage wrestling four times a week at Lanes Club, which was itself a major factor in reviving the sport in London. Lane ran into trouble with the law for promoting wrestling shows on Sunday in contravention of the Sunday Observance Laws. Apart from the London Club Harold Lane was also promoter at other venues that included the Beresford Arena, Haringey; Olympia, Kensington; and Vale Hall, Kilburn, London. When he died in December 1941, aged 54, he was described in the press as "The Tsar of Wrestling."


D and P Lannon

Promoters at the Palace Pier Pavilion, Hastings St Leonards


Lawson-Taylor Promotions

George Lawson was a one time boxer from Hull and John Taylor was a rugby league hooker with Hull Kingston Rovers. Forming a partnership in the mid 1930s Lawson-Taylor were foremost boxing promoters who, in the late 1930s and into the 1940s, promoted wrestling in Hull in partnership with George DeRelwyskow.


Ernest Lees

Promoter at Bedworth in 1952 and a member of the Wrestling Federation of Great Britain.


Maurice Letchford

See Sports Enterprises


Jim Lewis

In the 1960s and early 1970s there were enough wrestling shows in and around Manchester for a wrestler to work a couple of times each night. That’s why the promoters keep popping up, and Jim Lewis was another. He promoted many shows in the clubs around Manchester and brought many youngsters in to the wrestling game.


Liberty Promotions
Early 1960s promotions we have found in Widnes and Blackpool. No evidence at all but we suspect the man behind the promotion was Dominic Pye.


Leo Lightbody

See British Wrestling Enterprises


Harry Lightfoot

See Hardwick Promotions


Paul Lincoln Management

The most famous of all independent promoters, and justifiably so. Australian wrestler Paul Lincoln left behind a successful career with Joint Promotions in 1958 to set up in direct opposition to Dale Martin Promotions, promoting wrestling shows around the south, and later throughout the country. Initially dismissed by Dale Martin as little more than an irritation the energy, determination and skilfulness of Lincoln meant that he was soon to become a rival who could not be ignored.


Lincoln made use of disenchanted Joint Promotions men, like Mike Marino and Al Hayes, overseas imports, including Professor Adiwasser and Robert Duranton, and developed local talent that included the Cortez Brothers, Bob Kirkwood, Roger Green, Dave Larsen and Wayne Bridges. A flair for marketing and creative use of a small roster of wrestlers made Paul Lincoln a serious challenge to the might of Joint Promotions..


So great a threat was Lincoln to the Joint Promotions business that it became inevitable his company would one day be swallowed up. We can find no documented evidence of how this actually came about, and wrestlers involved at the time provide conflicting evidence. The most likely scenario is that the Hurst Park Syndicate, owners of Dale Martin Promotions, took over Paul Lincoln Management. Paul Lincoln Management ceased activity in December, 1966.


Lincoln's merger was a blow to the Wrestling Federation of Great Britain as they lost some of their top performers, including Mike Marino, Judo Al Hayes, Ray Hunter and Dave Larsen.

See also British Wrestling Federation and Wrestling Federation of Great Britain



Paul Lincoln Promotions
Following the absorption of Paul Lincoln Management into the Dale Martin Promotions owned by the Hurst Park syndicate a new company was formed, Paul Lincoln Promotions, that was part of the Joint Promotion organisation. Although it worked within the Dale Martin organisation the Paul Lincoln brand continued a a handful of halls until the late 1970s.

See also Joint Promotions


Lincoln-Alexander Promotions
We have come across early 1960s programmes presented by Paul Lincoln and Bob Alexander. Who was Bob Alexander? Even Paul Lincoln stalwarts like Bob Anthony and Bob Kirkwood have been unable to shed any light on the mystery. Get in touch if you can help.

See also British Wrestling Federation


Lincolnshire Wrestling Promotions

In the late 1960s, early 70s Bill and Ron Clarke, who wrestled as the Lincolnshire Poachers, put the Eastern England county well and truly on the wrestling map with their Lincolnshire Wrestling Promotions business. Shows were presented regularly around the county in venues that were too small to attract the attention of Joint Promotions. For many fans, however, the lasting memory of Bill is for the part he played as King Kendo, a Kendo Nagasaki lookalike, though many would claim he looked nothing like him.


William Little

Carlisle turf accountant and boxing promoter who presented wrestling programmes at the Market Hall, Carlisle, in association with Relwyskow & Green Promotions.


Lord Lonsdale

In 1932 there was talk of a Board of Control being set up with the patronage of Lord Lonsdale, ignoring the previous years claims it was said that no Board of Control existed. This was true, of course, and was true every time another Board of Control popped up to say it was going to bring about real change. Although Lonsdale was a patron of wrestling we are unaware of any plans materialising.


Kathleen Look

A name often associated with that of Atholl Oakeley is that of the first female wrestling promoter in Britain, Kathleen Look. The most glamorous of wrestling promoters and probably the only one with qualifications in shorthand and typing. A famed promoter around the country but most notably at the Kings Hall, Belle Vue, where she put on regular championship contests and employed the biggest names of them all, including world champion Jack Sherry, The Angel Maurice Tillett and Karl Pojello. If newspaper reports are accurate Kathleen took up promoting, at Belle Vue, Manchester, in 1933, after a wrestling agency she had set up failed to succeed. In 1934 Kathleen Look promoted a titanic struggle at Belle Vue, a British heavyweight championship match between two claimants, Douglas Clark and Bulldog Bill Garnon. Billed as challenger by Kathleen Look it was Clark that emerged victor by two falls to nil. There was a close professional relationship between Kathleen Look and Atholl Oakeley, who she described as her "Technical Adviser." In Blue Blood Oakeley writes that he appointed Kathleen Look as his Chief Executive before she went on to become a promoter in her own right. A newspaper article in 1936 stated that Kathleen Look promoted four wrestling shows each week.


Dennis Lord Promotions

Dennis Lord turned to wrestling promoting in the 1970s after a serious car accident brought an end to his wrestling career. He made good use of the partnerships he had already made to attract some of the biggest names in the business to tournaments throughout Yorkshire and Scotland. Johnny Saint, Lee Sharron, Terry Goodrum, Toma Hanson, Bill Clarke, Pedro the Gypsy, Butcher Goodman, and Klondyke Jake were amongst those appearing regularly on Dennis’ shows. Those shows varied in size from working men’s clubs, modern sports hall, large public and civic halls, and even holiday parks.


Danny Lynch

The Yorkshire bruiser promoted mainly in Sussex.

20/02/2022 Page added