WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

S: Stuart - Sullivan

Wrestling Heritage A-Z



Mel Stuart
Real-life fire-fighter, deep-sea-diver and budgerigar-breeder, Pretty Boy Stuart was a Gravesend mid-heavyweight who appeared on the Dale Martin scene mid-seventies and proved adaptable to any opponent. Prior to that he had worked for independent promoters and on the fairground booths.  Particularly skilled at allowing the aged Les Kellett to shine in spite of deteriorated timing.  Tagged with any villain going, the only consistency being alongside Steve Haggetty in the Blond Bombers.  We got upset as sloppy emcees called him Mal, but his wrestling by any name could enliven any bill.  Continued wrestling until well into the twenty-first century.

Thunder Sugiyama
Barefooted and bearded Japanese heavyweight Tsuneharu Sugiyama wrestled professionally as Thunder Sugiyama and made a fifteen day visit to  northern England in May 1969. Inside that fortnight he made two television appearances, defeating Henri Pierlot and Roy Bull Davis. Opposition to the talented Jap was first rate; draws against Mike Marino and Kendo Nagasaki, and disqualification losses against Albert Wall  and John Cox.  At the age of 24 Tsuneharu Sugiyama had represented Japan in the Greco-Roman heavyweight competition of the Tokyo Olympic Games.  His partnership with Giant Baba and speciality "thunder and lightning drop" made him a big name on the American scene.  In 1969 Sugiyama defeated Billy Robinson to become the second  International Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion. Robinson had defeated Toyonobori on 12th December in Okayama, Japan, to become the first champion.

Following his wrestling career he became a television personality appearing  on tv and in films. Born on 23rd July 1940, he died of heart failure on 22nd November, 2002, aged 62. His death was reported as heart failure brought on by diabetes.

Butty Sugrue
In a sport that is full of larger than life characters few could have had a life larger than Butty Sugrue.Strongman, circus performer, wrestler, and not to forget that he was the promoter of  the Muhammad Ali versus Al " Blue " Lewis boxing match in Croke Park in Dublin in July 1972. 

Michael Butty Sugrue was certainly one of the most colourful Irishmen in London. His feats of strength were the stuff of legends and earned him the title of  “Irelands Strongest Man.” In 1953 Butty wrestled  The Gorgeous Gael, Jack Doyle,  at Killorglin's  Puck Fair in 1953. 

After moving to London Butty became landlord of various pubs such as the Admiral Nelson in Kilburn and the Wellington in Shepherd’s Bush. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he wrestled for independent promoters in London and the south. Butty had a talent for self promotion – a quick internet search will reveal photos of him lifting a chair with his teeth (with a woman sat on it!), mixing with film and sporting celebrities, and the time he persuaded one of his bar staff to live buried alive in a coffin for sixty-one days.

Butty Sugrue died in 1977, aged 53. Ironically for Ireland's strongest man, he died carrying a fridge up the stairs.

Dai Sullivan
We remember Dai Sullivan in the latter part of his career when he  was something of a heavyweight bruiser. Even so, his rugged style did not hide the fact that here was a skilful wrestler who could hold his own with the best, including World heavyweight champion, Lou Thesz, when the American toured Britain. 

From his earliest days in the professional wrestling ring Dai had earned a reputation as an all-action, aggressive fighter. Born in Tonypandy in 1922 as Francis Morgan Dai was the son of a miner. Like all mining families times were hard, and none more so than during the 1926 General Strike. During the strike non mining families from around the country volunteered to look after the children of mining families. That was how, in 1926 it came about that four year old Dai was sent to live with a family in Doncaster. 

As things turned out he  stayed with the family and remained in Doncaster  for the rest of his life. Like many other professional wrestlers Dai's first sporting interest was boxing, and he was an army champion before turning to wrestling whilst stationed at Chester and watching the shows at Liverpool Stadium.  Trained by Charlie Glover  Dai turned  professional in the mid 1940s and we find his first documented contest in 1947, wrestling his mentor, Charlie.

During the following twenty years Dai wrestled all the big names in Britain until retiring in the late 1960s.  "A non stop whirlwind," according to Dwight J Inglebergh. e pair lost to the Royal brothers in 1971.