A: Young Atlas Frank Morris

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Young Atlas Frank Morris

Rarely has it given us so much pleasure to add a wrestler to the A-Z than it has at this time when Young Atlas joins our ranks. Pleasure because it is a good example of how the genealogical skills of Ron Historyo, the  knowledge of Wrestling Heritage and the enthusiasm of a family member can combine to make real discoveries of a long forgotten wrestler. This was a real archaeological search without getting the boots dirty.

The search began with a message from a young man called Andrew, asking us to help discover the background of his grandfather,  "He represents a very enigmatic figure in the lives of our family, growing up with him my own Dad actually knew very little about him;  he only discovered by accident that he had been a wrestler."

We receive requests like this most weeks. We always suggest the family member posts a message in the forum, as this will then involve other members and one or more may have knowledge or memories. We also ask for more information, however small and insignificant it might seem (Heritage research is much like piecing together a jig saw). More often than not that is the end of the story; we hear no more.  

Not this time.  Andrew provided snippets of family background, Ron began sorting his way through his genealogy records, Ray Plunkett plundered his archives and we popped up every now and again with bits of information and drawing the threads together. There is something to be learned here by all those family members who turn to us for help.

We had been aware of Young Atlas for some time, but even saying knowledge was thin on the ground was something of an exaggeration. We knew nothing. Previously on Heritage it had been suggested that Atlas was a more than capable wrestler who had gone on to greater things under another, by now more famous, name. But we hadn't a clue.  

We did discover a Young Atlas wrestling in Belfast between 1939 and 1942. Other English based wrestlers were found on the bills at the time, but why would promoters go to the expense of importing an unknown to work well down the card?  We also came across a Young Atlas in England in 1938 and 1939, billed respectively from Bradford, Kettering and Preston. This could be our man, but we don't think so. Mike Hallinan provided the name of Young Atlas in the 1930s, Jack Austin of Bradford, but that didn't fit in with the rest of the pieces.

The Young Atlas in Ireland could well have been a circus strong man, Charles Geoghegan, who later became a famous international wrestler, Tim Geoghegan. Having said that, he would be only 17 in 1939, his first Belfast appearance, so that seemed unlikely.  

Cast circus men and Irish men aside, they proved red herrings in our search.

Ron Historyo discovered that our Young Atlas was Frank Edward Morris. Piecing together Ron's initial hypothesis with information provided by Andrew we now know that Frank Edward Morris, latterly Young Atlas, was born on 4th July, 1915, born into a Wiltshire family who had moved to Oldham in the early part of the twentieth century. By 1939 Frank was married to Alice and they were living in Manchester where Frank worked as a painter and decorator. We have no evidence of twenty-four year old Frank wrestling at this time. Not surprisingly we have no record of Frank wrestling during the war. A newspaper photo of Young Atlas working in Ireland in 1942 is definitely not Frank but looked not dissimilar to Tim Geoghegan. That was a red herring for another day.

Our Young Atlas Frank Morris was certainly wrestling professionally by 1949, and more than likely as early as 1946 (though the 1946 appearances could have been Geoghegan in England).

From 1948 onwards, though, we find our Young Atlas appearing mostly in the north of England, though venturing south in later years. He worked regularly with a group of wrestlers from south Lancashire and north Staffordshire (Danny Flynn, Jim Mellor, Bill Ogden and George Goldie). 

Although  largely forgotten (until now) it seems that Young Atlas  was a more than capable wrestler who found no shortage of work. He travelled through the north and midlands, worked for reputable promoters against quality opponents. Although novices themselves many of the men he met went on to become big names – Alan Colbeck, Jack Dempsey, Tommy Mann, George Kidd, Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Doug Joyce amongst them. 

A modest man Young Atlas rarely spoke of his exploits, which led to some scepticism by his son when he only discovered his father had been a wrestler after being "outsed" by the local paper. More scepticism when dad claimed to have wrestled Mick McManus. We can confirm that he was telling the truth.

From around 1952 onwards we have occasional matches further south, quite a few in London. Was this the same wrestler? Was this the same wrestler. Probably yes, but we can't be certain.  Our Young Atlas continued to appear frequently on the bills until 1954, by which time he would be nearing forty. Appearances then slow down with our final sighting in 1958.

Ron Historyo filled in many gaps of Andrew's family tree, we have offered a little help in terms of his grandfathers wrestling career, but we are confident we have established beyond doubt that Young Atlas Edward Morris deserves his place in our Wrestling Heritage.

Page added 2/7/17

Reviewed 07/02/2022