New World Champion!

Originally published in New Zealand Sports Digest, August 1956

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NEW WRESTLING CHAMPION (Continued from page 66) .And also round about this time, Watson beat Yvon Robert for the Canadian version of. the British Empire title, Robert having won his qlaim from the Indian, Nanjo Smgh who had beaten Eari McCready during the late war years. A remarkably hard . hysical specimen, “Whipper ily' has taken more than one man’s share of spills during his near- score of years in the mat game. He has sustained three shoulder dislocations, t o r n ligaments in ankles and knees, three ear operations, broken bones in the hands, and chip- ped elbows and shoulders. Page 66 slugged both Watson and referee John Turner, earning a 60-day suspension (which, be- ing for the State of Missouri only, means nothing). “Iron Training Grind” The new champion, “Whip- per” Watson, kicked off. his pro wrestling career in Eng- land. This was just before the war, and, as he scaled only around 13% stone in those days, he found more competition among the lighter British wrestlers than would have been available in Canada and America. In 1949, besides claiming the British light-heavyweight title, he also laid claim to the af- fections of a pretty English girl, who today is Mrs. Billy Watson, mother of his two children, Georgina and John. On his subsequent return to Toronto, Watson began body- building in order to add the two stone to his well-construc— ted frame, two stone that stood between him and wrest- ling’s .“big time." BeSides barbell exercises, manager Phil Lawson put Billy on what he called Training Grind,” which con- Sisted of five miles on the read each morning at the crack of dawn, followed by halfua-dozen 15—minute bouts with any op- ponents available, then 90 min- utes on the mat goin through hIS‘StOCk of holds, f0 lowed by we1ght~lifting. THIS WAS TOPPED OFF BY THE MAKE-’EM-OR— BREAK-’EM FEAT 0F CAR- RYING MANAGER LAWSON BODILY UP THE 200m. SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS ABOVE LAKE ONTARIO! Then Watson was launched on his home career in Toronto, and was an immediate suc- cess. “As tough as a hunk of concrete,” as one sports writer N .2. SPORTS DIGEST the “Iron , August, 1956 put it, he held his own with established local favourites in Yvon Robert, a French-Cana- dian rated by ,many of_ his countrymen as the Dominion’s best ever, Jack Forsgren. Al Baffert and John Katan. _ He perfected a devastating offensive which he called the “Canadian Avalanche,” a tor- nadic mixture of arm pull body drop, stepover toehold and forward rolling cartwheel. But _don’t ask us to describe just how it goes! is favourite weapon, how- ever, is the Irish ‘Whip, first used by, the late Danno O’Mahoney, the promoters’ idol in the mid-thirties. _ Watson campaigned With even greater success in the United States, and was even- tually matched with “Wild Bill” Longson for the National Wrestling‘Alliance’s version of the world title. The pair, in fact, battled out a series of three vicious affairs, each of which ended with one of the boys getting his marching orders from the referee. At St. Louis, Watson was disqualified for hurling Long~ son from the ring; in the re- match at Toronto, the “Whip- per” met with the same fate once again, but in the third clash, back in St. Louis, Long- son lost the title before a. great crowd of around 18,000 peo le when he persisted in am ying strangleholds. n those days, the Alliance was still in its infancy, and the N.W.A. titleholder was just an— other of the many “world champions” at large. IT WAS AT THIS STAGE‘ THAT LOU THESZ EN— TERED THE PICTURE, BEATING BOTH WATSON AND LONGSON TO GO ON TO , ALMOST UNIVERSAL POIEISQOGNITION AS CHAMP- (Page 98, please) Page 64 N2. SPORTS DIGEST August, 1956 forty-year-olds dash and wrestling has a NEW WMLD CHAMPION! The long reign of Louis Tisza, the St. Louis~hred Hungarian bootmaker’s son who, as Lou Thesz, has dominated wrestling as the powerful National Wrestling Alliance’s world champion for the past eight years, has closed. In a clash of 40-odd‘year- olds, Thesz dropped his title to Canadian “‘Vhipper” Billy Watson,_ from East York, Toronto, and failed to regain it in the mewtabie return bout. Gas?“ . more”; \ l l % flat ahCLAlMAN'F TO THE BRlTlSH EMEHRE. AND WORLD TITLE 15 CLEVER, KNOWS ALL THE HOLDS IN THE BOOKS PLUS FEW OF HIS OWN INVENTION. _ (l Hl‘i BONE—JARRING CANADIAN AVALANCHE SPELLED CURTAIN!) TO MANy OF H95 OPF’ONEVTS, BUT“...~ W “uteri; Bus/15y H05 FAVORITE am? Is A TYPE or IRISH me SIMILAR To ' THAT 0559 By THE LATE DAN O'MAHONEY- 1v- <£~. August, 1956 NZ. SPORTS DIGEST Thesz had won the N.W._A. crown when he beat “Wild Bill” Longson and this‘ same Watson back in 1948, consoli- dated his position a year later by upending another favoured matman, Orville Brown, and was dubbed “champ” by practln cally all us. organisatlons after defeating “Baron” Leone in 1952. During his eight years on top, Thesz has wrestled some 1500 bouts, and was retained in favour despite the claims of Verne Gagne, Antonmo Roc- ca, “Killer” dealski, Yukon Eric Holmback, “Nature Boy" Rogers, Pat O’Connor, Ray Gunkel, Watson and other favourites, all of whom he has defeated or staved off with draws. _ Speculation has been rife for the past two years or more as to whom the favoured one would be when Thesz finally got out of the game to breed his Doberman‘ Pincer dogs. Gagne, holder of the “Ameri- can” championship, Kowalski, Rocca and O’Connor were con» sidered to be the leaders in the race for succession. Few could have imagined that the new champ would be Watson, who is as old as Thesz. Watson won the title in his native Toronto, and did so in this fashion. While being held in a corkscrew hold, Thesz headed for the ropes, dragging Watson with him, and the pair crashed onto the floor outside the ring. Proving that there are no such things as wrestling rules these days, Watson car- ried on the war outside the prescribed .hmits by hoisting the stunned Thesz and slam- mgng him again to the floor, chmbing back into the ring before the referee’s count of 20 had expired to be designat— ed “winnah and noo cham- peen.” IT WAS ALL A LITTLE LIKE A FOOTBALL GAME Dethroned after eight years on top . LOU THESZ, BEING WON WITH A TOUCH- DOWN SCORED IN THE CENTRE AISLE OF THE GRAN DSTAND 2 However, the return duly came up a few weeks later, held this time in Thesz’s home— town, St. Louis. The same win— ner emerged once again,.but this time the script was al- tered, Thesz being disqualified for twice kicking Wat 11 off the ring apron as he attempted to re—enter the arena. As a “protest”. the ex—champion