M: The Monster
If ever an A-Z entry was a work in progress it is this one. We found a wrestler called Ivan The Monster working for Devereux Promotions in 1961 and 1962, a total of just five matches. Said to weigh 25 stones we believe Ivan the Monster did not wear a mask. Opponents were Don Mendoza, Kiwi Kingston, Johnny Peters and Shirley Crabtree; the latter may be significant. Around the same time was another wrestler, Ivan Kalmikoff, another 25 stones. Then there was John Wade. Not as exotic sounding, but John Wade also weighed 25 stones, was from Halifax, and photographic proof came from Main Mask and The Ost that these three were one and the same person.
John Wade brings more mystery. He was from Halifax, home of the Crabtree family. Max Crabtree started promoting around 1958. In 1959 a masked man began to appear on his bills, The Monster.
No Ivan, just The Monster. He weighed 24 stones, give or take a stone.
Heritage member Tom H watched this masked Monster, “In 1961 at Ilford Baths I saw The Monster beat Don Mendoza, his next bout was with Shirley Crabtree it ended up a no contest. A return match took place with a KO win for Crabtree, The Monster removed his mask and the MC named him as Big John Wade. The Monster returned a few weeks later to face Johnny Peters. He came into the ring wearing his mask but was ordered to remove it before the match began.”
Now here’s the thing. Ask just about anyone who wrestled as The Monster and they will tell you it was Jim Green of Blackpool. Wrestlers Rex Strong, Tony Francis, Al Marshall and Steve Fury all told us of working with Jim Green The Monster. We asked around all those who we thought would be in the know and the name John Wade drew a blank. For a man this big in a black mask he certainly seems invisible.
The Monster continued to appear on independent shows for a variety of promoters until the beginning of 1962. In 1962 Max Crabtree’s Twentieth Century Promotions were absorbed into Joint Promotions. On 12th January, 1962, The Monster appeared on Joint Promotion bills. He was a Main Event wrestler on Joint Promotion rings in the north and Scotland, not working for Dale Martin Promotions, and wrestled the likes of Bill Joyce, Jack Pye and Dave Armstrong.
In April, 1962, The Monster appeared on a Dale Martin show, the first time working for them that we can find. Now Dale Martin Promotions were very dismissive of masked wrestlers. Lo and behold on this Dale Martin show The Monster was geaten unmasked. Who was it? That man John Wade of Halifax.
Now he’d been unmasked at least twice, on both the independent circuit and Joint Promotions. Undeterred by another unmasking The Monster continued to work on Joint Promotions bills throughout 1962 and into the spring on 1963. We could not find any appearances for Dale Martin Promotions, but we did find John Wade of Halifax on their bills. There was oneoccasion when The Monster was advertised by Dale Martins, failed to appear, and was replaced by John Wade! Only in the wrestling.
Another landmark in May, 1963. We are in Edinburgh, a Max Crabtree show at a time Max was working with Joint Promotions, and main event was Shirley Crabtree against the Monster.
You guessed it. Another defeat, another unmasking. Revealing yet again the identity of John Wade of Halifax.
Now let’s rewind. You remember The Monster was working for the independents until January 1962. He seemed to disappear when The Monster name appeared on Joint Promotion posters. But not for long. By January, 1963, with Wade still working The Monster role on Joint shows The Monster appeared again on independent programmes.
Was this the emergence of Jim Green? Or had Jim been there all along, working alongside Wade on the independents back from 1959 until 1961. We said this was definitely a work in progress.
Jim Green was a heavyweight from Blackpool, weighed around 24 stones it was said! This was the man that we watched, the man remembered bt Rex Strong, Tony Francis and others. A huge man with a black mask he was a fearsome sight. He was always billed as a 24 stone South American. The origins were definitely part of wrestling kidology and the weight did seem something of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, he was a very big man who we enjoyed watching in the 1960s against the likes of Wild Angus Campbell, Pat Curry and Cowboy Cassidy. In the mid 1960s The Monster took part in a series of two versus one matches (he was the one!), most notably against The Undertakers tag team, who he routinely defeated.
So unlike his alter-ego was the real life Jim that promoter Cyril Knowles relented to his requests to advertise him in his local Blackpool in his black mask but with his real name prominent on the poster. Apparently Jim was having trouble persuading his friends that he was the rule-bending hooded terror.
So there we have it. For forty years we believed Jim Green was the original Monster. Now we are not so sure. Maybe it was Crabtree that created the Monster persona for Wade with Green emerging later when Wade transferred to Joint Promotions. Or was Jim Green the original, working for his pal Dominic Pye when he started promoting in 1959.
Piecing together wrestling history is like a jigsaw. Everything seems okay until a missing piece is found and all those around it are displaced.
Definitely a work in progress.