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T: Terry - Thunderbird

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

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Morris Terry

We are seeking information on Yorkshire heavyweight Maurice Terry, a trainee of George de Relwyskow.

Lou Thesz

The Hungarian born Thesz arrived in Britain to face his first challenger, Dara Singh on 11th December, 1957, and was to stay the best part of three months. Mystery surrounds the origin of the belt that he defended as Thesz had already lost the title before leaving American shores! Wrestling promoters wouldn't allow such a small detail to get in their way.

During this first match Thesz was challenged by British heavyweight Bert Assirati, a futile challenge as Bert was unlikely to ever again be employed by Joint Promotions.

Fans were disappointed when Lou Thesz's tour was shortened in February, 1958, when the illness of his wife meant that he had to return home

We have received information that Lou Thesz and Dara Singh returned to Britain in the 1970s. They wrestled each other on three occasions for promoters Tony Scarlo and Gordon Corbett, with Tony refereeing each contest.

The first venue was at the Lyceum Ballroom in the Strand, and many of the big named British Wrestlers paid to see both these wrestling greats, amongst them Mike Marino, Judo Al Hayes, Rebel Ray Hunter, Sky Hi Lee, and Wayne Bridges. The second contest was at Bradford, with a capacity partisan crowd backing Dara. The 3rd matching was at Southall in Middlesex, and all three dates were sellouts.

We would welcome further information about these and any other Lou Thesz British contests. We are also seeking copies of posters or handbills.

Lee Thomas

Tall, slim and wearing his habitual white trunks Dundee's Lee Thomas quickly became one of the most popular Northern middleweights of the late sixties and early seventies. Turning professional in 1967 he quickly established himself throughout the north. Lee was a fast and skilful wrestler who combined agility, acrobatic flair and wrestling skill. His flying body scissors and drop kicks were a delight to the fans. He proved a real contrast to those other Scottish middleweights, the rough hard man, Chic Purvey, and the dour Ted Hannon. Seemed at ease with his frequent tag partner George Kidd, who was also from Dundee.

Norman Thomas

“The Cockney Kid” weighed around 13-14 stones and was a prolific worker in the 1940s and 1950s. So much so that we feel guilty for not knowing more. We come across him in 1946 when it is said he has just finished serving in the RAF. Throughout the 1940s we find Norman billed as Welsh, which he may well have been. By 1950 we find references to Norman Thomas “The Cockney Kid.” In a moment of wrestling inspiration a young Tony Scarlo wrestled Norman Thomas for use of the title “Cockney Kid.”

Clay Thomson

Billed from Glasgow he wrestled for most of his titled period out of Leeds and then Essex. A dedicated amateur who we are told was trained for the professional ranks by Norman Morrell. His professional debut is reported as at Blackburn against Don Branch in 1959, though our earliest documented record is in Coventry wrestling Pasquale Salvo in February, 1960.

Star quality was evident from the beginning. In April, 1961, the Evening Express reported a two falls to nil win over Eric Tylor. He quickly won the Scottish Light-heavyweight championship and within two years had twice failed to defeat Ernie Riley in British championship bouts. He did, though have a short reign as holder of the Heavy Middleweight belt, defeating the champion at Aberdeen in July 1961. and there was little surprise when he later went on to take the British Middleweight Championship.

Undoubtedly skilful but Clayton struggled to find a niche amongst the colourful antics of his peers. Did we really want to know in 1969 that he had gone six months without being pinned? Did this make for exciting professional wrestling? Perhaps at the time it seemed so.

He surprised everyone by his heel turn when donning a mask. Almost unbeaten, never ununmasked, but the phase failed to arouse much excitement all round. To discover who he was and find out more about his masked alter-ego you will have to turn to the pages of The Wrestling Heritage Top 20 Masked Men.

Wrestled once again as Clay mid-seventies before disappearing without ado. News of Clayton's 2010 death, as announced at the Wrestlers' Reunion that August, came as a shock to many.

Related article: Shenanigans, Skulduggery and Betrayal in Armchair Corner on www.wrestlingheritage.com 

Scott Thomson
Scott Thomson was born in Govan, Glasgow. Following a chance encounter with Dale Storm after a show  he was persuaded to attend Dale's  gym for a tryout. Having been taken under the wing of several top stars, he emerged as a formidable opponent, not only in his own lightweight division, but could hold his own with most in higher brakets as well. 

Being one of the fastest and strongest in the lightweight class, he excelled in the ring in most of his one to one contests and even found some fame along with his regular tag team partner Jeff Bradley when it came to a four up. Occasional spells as a referee helped improve his overall knowledge and understanding of the finer points of wrestling and he quickly became a huge crowd pleaser nationwide. Amongst his toughest opponents he lists Ireland's Michael O'Hagan, Jim Morgan (the younger twin in The Fabulous Harlequins Tag Team),  also former (independent) British Lightweight Champion Ian McKenzie and Aberdeen's Len Ironside. His greatest achievement must be Perth, in the late 1970's where with the bout evenly balanced at one fall each, an accidental shoulder injury prevented a first career win, over one of the UK's best ever, Mr Johnny Saint! After he retired Scott moved to the Scottish Borders where he and his wife Margaret fully enjoy the slower pace of life in a glorious rural surrounding. 

Les Thornton (Henri Pierlot)
For much of his career the name was all French, but the man himself was as Lancashire as they come. Popular Salford heavyweight Les Thornton initially adopted the French name to add a bit of glamour to the already colourful posters of the northern independent promoters. Our memories of Henri Pierlot go back to a rough, hard hitting heavyweight tackling the likes of Dominic Pye and Angus Campbell on the Northern independent circuit. Even in those mid sixties Pierlot had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with through a series of bouts with the great Bert Assirati.  

Henri Pierlot had entered the professional ranks in 1957 shortly after leaving the Royal Navy. For the first five years or so he worked for the independent promoters, working simultaneously at Salford docks. Whilst main eventing for Paul Lincoln Management  Henri came to the attention of the big promoters and was signed up by Joint Promotions for the first time in October, 1962. Following several successful years wrestling throughout Europe, and making a big impression in the German tournaments, Henri gained worldwide success in 1971 in Japan , North America, Australia and New Zealand. 

Now using the name Les Thornton, he won the North American Heavyweight Title by defeating Abdullah the Butcher in Regina, Canada in April 1971. At the time Thornton described this as the toughest and most dangerous match of a career which included heavyweight greats such as Bert Assirati, Bill Robinson, Dara Singh, Bholu Pehalwan  and Dory Funk Jr. A series of bouts in 1972 with World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk Jr established Thornton as one of the world’s top heavyweights.  He regained the North American championship for a second time when he defeated John Quinn in December, 1974. Further international success continued with the taking of the NWA  World Junior Heavyweight Title, but despite returns to his home country Thornton remained largely a great wrestler without honour in his own country. 

Tiny Tom Thumb
Chelmsford lightweight Tom Thumb was given the name when wrestling for Jackie Pallo Promotions (though it was Jon Cortez's idea). It didn't take a second look to know why because he stood barely five feet tall and was said to be Britain's smallest wrestler. For the Essex teenager it all began when Neil Sands invited him to his new gym in Chelmsford and that was the start of  the classic wrestling fan's  dream of becoming a wrestler coming true.  In the ring the fans loved him as he literally ran rings around villains such as  Sid Cooper, Bobby Barnes and, maybe most memorable of all, Jim Breaks. More comedy than classic wrestling there was certainly a place for Tom Thumb in British wrestling of the seventies and eighties, and no one was more likely to send the fams home with  smiles on their faces.  Memorable tag partner of Catweazle and Big Daddy; both pairings cold have been dubbed The Odd Couple!  Since retiring from the ring Tom Thumb has remained very much part of the wrestling business, as promoter, referee and master of ceremonies.

Ray Stomper Thunder
See the entry for Ray Glendenning

Chief Thunderbird (Canada)
The first native American to wrestle in British rings, a decade before we had heard the name Billy Two Rivers. The original Chief Thunderbird was possibly a bigger attraction in Britain, where he wrestled 1951-2 and 1954-5, than he was in his native Canada.  Born in  1896, given the name Jean Baptiste Paul in 1896, he was the hereditary chief of the Tsartlip Indians at Brentwood on Vancouver Island. His entry to the ring in native American costume and to the sound of pounding drums  made him a colourful addition to British rings long before the arrival of Billy Two Rivers. His specialist move was the  "Saanich Snap," which was similar to what was also known as the "Indian Deathlock. Having turned professional in 1933 he retired from wrestling  in 1955 when he broke his leg during a match.  Opponents included Bill Garnon, Dave Armstrong, Jack Pye and Mike Marino.   Jean Baptiste Paul died on 23rd November, 1966, following which a totem pole was commissioned in his honour with the inscription "All the world knew him as Chief Thunderbird, greatly skilled in athletic games and world champion wrestler.'' 

Chief Thunderbird (Chief Sitting Bull) (UK)
The name Chief Thunderbird re-emerged in the 1960s on the shows of the independent promoters. This time his origins were not wild west, but east European. The man beneath the headdress was  Polish born Ben Watijeski who was now living in Levenshulme. Wrestled for the independents throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.  He was the Indian who was double crossed by Bill Blake in "Send in the Clown" and finished up getting a tomahawk chop down his own throat.