WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

L: LaBarba - Larue


Wrestling Heritage A - Z


Joachim LaBarba (Also known as Pancho Zapatta)
A serious car crash almost put paid to the career, and life of Joachim La Barba.

With the looks that only a mother could love the middleweight made quite an impression with fans that disliked his rough tactics when he tangled with the likes of Jack Dempsey, Cliff Belshaw and Tommy Mann during a three week visit for Dale Martin Promotions in 1958.

Always billed as Mexican we have yet to uncover evidence that he was Mexican, though our scepticism is only because this is professional wrestling and it’s a good guide to question everything. Our search through the archives uncovers the wrestler first of all eight years prior to his Brutish debut working in Paris with the name Joachim LaBarba and Germany as Judas LaBarba.

He returned for a longer visit of around three months in October, 1961, again working for Dale Martin promotions.. On television he lost a November, 1961, contest when he was knocked out by Mick McManus. This was on the same bill that the American Luther Lindsay knocked out Joe Zaranoff in his historic sole British television appearance. There was a further visit in March, 1963.

Joachim La Barba went on to re-emerge in 1965 as the Mexican Thunderbolt Pancho Zapatta, an unmistakable Mexican villain with moustache, a shaven head and a poncho. Oh, and a tendency to get disqualified. A Royal Albert Hall loss against the much lighter George Kidd at the Royal Albert Hall was most likely the highlight of his Zapatta tours in 1965, 1969 and 1972.

Rene LaBelle
The Flying French born Canadian was a claimant of world titles at welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight. His speciality flying tackle was said to be a sight to behold.  A scientific wrestler by all accounts, with a superb physique, he worked in Britain from 1936 until 1938. These matches pre-date any career record we can find for North America, which extends from 1938 until 1953.

Leo Labriola (Also known as Mustapha Labriola)
Born in 1901 the globetrotting heavyweight was a veteran of twenty odd years when he worked the rings of Britain from 1951-1952, already well known in Australia, Europe, America and the Far East. Something of a hell raiser in the ring the Melbourne Argus reported from Labriola's match against George Pencheff, "Labriola had been thrown and when he rose he struck the referee George Thompson, a former heavyweight champion boxer, on the back of the neck rendering him unconscious.....Thompson recovered and assailed the Italian whereupon several policeman rushed to the ring and quelled the occasion."

Sus Labrosse
Belgian heavyweight for whom we can find a record of just one UK match, against Norman Walsh in Aberdeen on 8th March, 1955. We have no more to offer, other than he was the father of Eric Brazil who impressed two decades later.

John Lacey
Light Heavyweight from Bath who worked for Dale Martin Promotions from 1960 until 1964, opponents including Johnny Czeslaw, Steve Logan and Arthur Fisher.

Jacques (Jacky)  Lageat
The dark haired muscular Frenchman, erstwhile European mid heavyweight champion, will be forever remembered by British fans for the Titanic struggle, in which he lost his championship belt to Briton Billy Howes at Wembley Town Hall in May, 1962. It was a heave-ho struggle, super-human powers displayed by both wrestlers all the way through until the ninth round when Howes body slammed the French man and fell on to him for the winning pin. The same bill included one of the famous grudge matches between Jackie Pallo and Mick McManus, which ended in a draw. Back in France Lageat was a regular tag partner of Francisco Pina Farina  (after Farina's unmasking as L'Ange Blanc) and Charles Verhulst (billed in France as Allan le Foudre).  Lageat was the son of French promoter Roger Lageat. He chose not to capitalise on his father’s credentials and was known in his native France as Jacky Corn, which was his mother's maiden name. He also appeared in a couple of French films.

Guy Lamarre 
French heavyweight visited Britain  for a month in 1964. He lost to Canadian Don Griffin at the Royal Albert Hall. Returned in 1969 for two high profile matches, losing to Sean Regan at the Royal Albert Hall and getting knocked out by Tibor Szakacs on the tele.

Bert Lamb
This low key 1950s light  heavyweight from Croydon was often seen in opposition to his friend Kurt Jorgens. Bert was often billed as “Lucky Bert Lamb” on the posters, a reference to his childhood survival of polio, which was a killer in the 1950s. Illness left Bert with a weak and thin leg, which his merciless opponent would repeatedly attack. Fans would scream at the injustice of it all. We just weren't that sophisticated in those days.

Felix  Lamban 
Spanish heavyweight visited Britain during the 1950s and 1960s.  Credited by wrestling-titles.com as a Spanish and European champion in the 1940s details and dates are scant.  He was nicknamed  "El Strangulador" as a consequence of a tendency to use a rather lethal looking headlock.

Wrestling enthusiast Adrian Pollard said of Felix: "A tough, sturdy character - he could certainly wrestle with a high degree of prowess and easily made most of the lady fans-possibly some of the men (just being fair) swoon a bit with his Latin charm and Hollywood looks! As well as his persona he had the ring attire to match and was a colourful addition to the wrestling bills on which he featured."

Felix made his first short visit, of about a week, to Britain in 1953. He rturned for a more extensive tour between November 196o and March 1961. He wrestled mostly for the northern promoters and met most of the top mid heavyweights and heavies, including a television loss against British heavy middleweight champion Eric Taylor.

Apart from working throughout Europe he went on to work extensively in the United States,  using the name Felix Godo,  returning to Spain shortly before his retirement in 1967.


Andreas  Lambrakis
Greek heavyweight Andreas Lambrakis was born in Athens.  He visited Britain in the spring of 1960, having previously worked in Australia.  In Britain he worked   mainly for Dale Martin Promotions but with the occasional jaunt further north. Opponents were top of the range including Mike Marino, Georges Gordienko, Joe Cornelius, Ray Apollon and Geoff Portz. He was a rough, tough villain who would swagger around the ring taunting opponents and fans alike.   He continued to travel following his UK visit and went on to work in Canada and the USA for the WWWE Although their styles were as similar as chalk and cheese the similarity of family names  with Spiros Arion has caused confusion at times and, which on the death of Andreas Lambrakis, led to rumours that  Spiros Arion had died.

Larry Lancaster

For a couple of years, 1964 and 1965,  Larry Lancaster was a busy worker for Joint Promotions, with opponents that included  top heavyweights Steve Veidor, Sean Regan and Yuri Borienko. Most of his bouts were for Dale Martin Promotions in the south of England. Regular appearances  in Portsmouth lead to a suspicion that he may have lived nearby. To his credit the boy did travel, and he worked in the north of England for Norman Morrell, 


Rex Lane

Like many other professional wrestlers Rex Lane made the transition from fan to backroom boy (he put the ring up at Middlesbrough Town Hall) to getting thrown around in the gym, often by his mate Dicky Swales.  We are often surprised that many wrestlers are unable to remember the year, let alone the date, when they made their professional debut. Rex has no excuse because a  couple of important things happened to him in 1981, more or less at the same time. He got married  and went to Scarborough on his honeymoon. Whilst there he and his new bride went to the wrestling, only to find that the promoter was a man short. You know what's coming, don't you? Seeing Barry in the audience the promoter turned to him for help. Wouldn't we all have welcomed the chance to make a few bob on our honeymoon? In the years that followed Rex travelled the country and the world, working for top promoters such as Max Crabtree, Bobby Barron,  and Jackie Pallo.  Happy memories include great matches with Greg Valentine and Pete Ross, driving  to London with Haystacks holding the car door in place after accidentally pulling it off as he climbed in, working in Spain and  Germany; whilst a moment of great sadness as he partnered Mal Kirk on the night that he died. 


Jack Lang

Jack Lang was a powerfully built middleweight from Crewe who had a background as a BAWA weightlifting champion. He was a very strong man with an enormous chest, neck and shoulders.


Jack's real name was Harry Green and there was already a prominent wrestler by that name so he was re-branded for the professional ring as Jack Lang.


He wrestled in the Midlands and North in the late'60s and '70s, mainly for Independent promoters but also for Wrytons Promotions at one time. His opponents included Pete Lindberg (billed as the Clash of the Strongmen), Lew Roberts, Gordon Corbett, Jack Martin, Eddie Rose and Paul Mitchell.


Lew Roberts remembers Jack with some bitterness, for Lew had his first bout with Lang who showed him no mercy and dished out a fairly savage beating. Lew then came to the Panther's Gym in Manchester where a couple of the local hard men took him under their collective wing and showed him how to even the score with Lang which he did two years later when he broke Lang's nose in a bout described as " a bit of a ding-dong" by promoter Jack Cassidy.


Jack went to Australia for several years and wrestled extensively, his robust style earning him a good reputation. He was a serious-minded wrestler who was not interested in anything else but overcoming opponents with his great strength. Outside the ring he was a cheerful man with a hearty sense of humour, a contrast to his ring personality.

After retiring from wrestling Jack trained as a Physical Therapist and set up practice in South Wales until his death in the early years of the century.



Bob “Legs” Langevin

Legs Langevin was an adventurous twenty-something when he came from his Canadian home to wrestle in Britain between 1936 and the outbreak of world war two.  He went on to a career of almost forty years and travelled extensively, wrestling legendary stars that included Strangler Lewis, Jim Londos, and Lou Thesz. In Britain he shared a ring with top overseas visitors that included Jack Sherry and Karl Pojello as well as domestic stars. Born in Quebec Bob worked as a farm worker and in a brewery before taking up wrestling. Both were physical jobs and developed the enormous strength that was to serve him well in the wrestling rings. At the Montreal YMCA he came under the guidance of pro wrestlers Leo Lefebvre, Frank Sexton and Yvon Roberts. Unsurprisingly the nickname "Legs" resulted from his strong legs and a specialty move, the airplane head scissors, which he claimed was no longer used following his retirement. With the outbreak of war approaching Bob returned to Canada where he joined the Montreal police for the duration of the war. He resumed his wrestling career in 1945 and was to remain working for more than a quarter of a century and then became involved in the promotional side.


Bob Legs Langevin died on October 8th, 2005, aged 91.


Steve Studs Lannigan

A man who was at the front of the queue when the facial hair was dished out.  He was a  rumbustious Salford heavyweight who fans seemed to enjoy watching but made little long term  impact on the wrestling scene. Nevertheless, he did notch up around half a dozen television appearances between 1982 and 1986, so that's not too bad.


Guy LaRoche

Gypsy Guy LaRoche was a rule bending French middleweight who made frequent visits to the United Kingdom during the 1950s. The photograph shows LaRoche about to throw Rene Ben Chemoul from the ring. 


Roger LaRoche

One time European and World middleweight champion who visited Britain in the 1950s and early 1960s.  In September 1954 he defeated Jack Beaumont at Belle Vue, Manchester, in a bout for the  World Middleweight Championship. LaRoche visited Britain during the 1950s and 1960s, wrestling Steve Logan on tv in April, 1962. 


Dave Larsen (Also known as Young Hackenschmidt)

The wunderkind of the Paul Lincoln set-up seemed headed for high places as 1966 dawned.  Made premature screen appearances whilst working for the independents in the 1962 film The Wrestling Game (he partnered Ray Hunter against Dennis Dean and Don Steadman), and again in 1965 when BBC tv showed wrestling (in London and the South East only) on their new channel, BBC2. Less than a year later he was part of the Paul Lincoln invasion force that made their way into Joint Promotion rings. He featured at home as the blue-eyed golden boy, struggling against villains and particularly regular foe, Steve Haggetty. Lincoln wrestlers had a pathway to Paris and it was in France that Larson wrestled as Batman. But he seemed to go part-time after the 1966 merger and eventually disappeared from the scene completely in the very early seventies.


Billy La Rue

Battersea born, Kent based,  middleweight wrestler Billy La Rue turned professional in 1968 following a stint in the merchant navy.  Boxing was his firs interest until his friend Basil Riley  encouraged him to take up wrestling, 

He was trained by former wrestler Frank Price at his Canterbury gym before undergoing his wrestling apprenticeship on the independent circuit, facing the likes of Tony Scarlo who he held in high esteem. It was Frank Price that created the name Billy La Rue, a colourful exchange for his birth name of Brian Thomas.

Having worked the independent circuit for a few years Billy moved across to Joint Promotions in the early 1970s. He went on to work for Joint Promotions around Britain, Germany and Spain.

Jack LaRue
A name used on both sides of the Atlantic, in Britain to add a touch of colour to a local boy. Our local boy on this occasion was Harry Rose of Thornaby in Teeside, just south of the River Tees. Harry was a trainee from the St Lukes Club in Middlesbrough. By day Harry drove a hearse for the local undertaker, by night he was Jack LaRue, a lightweight wrestler from South Africa. He wrestled for independent promoters in the north east of England in the 1960s. The name was also used by Stockport wrestler Bob Francini.