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George Kidd

George Kidd was born in 1925, in Hill Street, Dundee. As a young boy, George went to the local boxing club to learn how to look after himself. The story goes that he was ridiculed for his size and severely beaten by the other lads at the club. In one fight, soon after he joined, George claimed that the boy he was fighting landed a hard punch on his nose. George dived at his opponents legs and dragged him to the canvas wrestling style, and by the time the club officials dragged him off. George had got a little of his own back. George Kidd, the would be wrestler, had arrived. 

After his flirtation with boxing, George decided to study physical education, fitness, stretching and weight lifting. He also studied Ju Jitsu, self defence and yoga in great detail. The Yoga may go some way to explaining George’s famous flexibility and some of the weird positions he put himself into while escaping from holds, bamboozling his opponents. and entertaining the fans. 

In 1943, George enlisted in the Royal Navy, where he began to wrestle competitively. In 1946 George left the Navy (he trained as a mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm) and it was at this time he decided to become a professional wrestler. George’s major problem was his height, 5’ 6" and his weight at the time, of around 9½ stone. Most good judges thought he was too small to become a professional wrestler. Keen to prove people wrong, George arranged to meet George de Relwyskow, the famous wrestling promoter, in Dundee. It was George de Relwyskow who gave George his first opportunity to pursue his chosen career of professional wrestling. 

In May 1947 George Kidd competed in a tournament in Edinburgh and defeated Tony Lawrence to claim the Scottish lightweight title. Before he won this title George had fought 60 contests losing only 10. In the famously cold winter of 1947, he decided to go to Bradford to meet Norman Morrell (the ex-Olympic wrestler who competed in the Berlin games of 1936, and went on to promote). George went to Morrell’s gym in Bradford where he was once again ridiculed for being so small. 

George had heard that kind of comment before and decided to challenge, a still reasonably fit, Norman Morrell to a few rounds in the gym. Within minutes of entering the ring , George was caught in a face bar hold and he struggled hard to escape until he heard something crack! The training bout ended suddenly with Morrell apologising and making it clear that he was greatly impressed by George offering to train and coach him. George worked with Morrell for 18 months – he claimed it was the hardest period of his career. Every night Norman made George do 100 bridges and by the time his training was finished, George’s neck measured 17½ inches. 

At Morrell’s gym one of George’s tutors was the British lightweight champion of the day Joe Reid, and during a non-title fight with George, Joe made it clear that no mercy would be shown. However, George soon managed to apply a figure four-leg lock on Joe, but Joe would not submit. This resulted in Joe’s leg being badly injured. Joe recovered well and eventually lost his British title to Jack Dempsey (later, the long reigning British welterweight champion). 

In 1948, George fought Jack Dempsey in a gruelling match, to win the British Lightweight title. George now set his sights on the European crown. In May 1949 George travelled to Paris to compete for the European Championship. George beat all comers in a tournament and returned with the European Lightweight title. This left only one title to aim at …..Champion of the World. 

The man generally recognised as the world lightweight champion at that time was Mexican, Rudy Quarez. The bout was arranged and George eventually defeated Quarez. Annoyingly, some important wrestling associations of the day, most notably the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA), refused to recognise George’s win. The spectacular Frenchman Rene Ben Chemoul, stood between George and world-wide recognition as lightweight champion, or at least as close to world-wide recognition as it ever gets in professional wrestling. 

George wanted to take on this final leg of his relentless pursuit to become recognised as world champion throughout the wrestling world and, in February 1950, Morrell arranged for George to fight Chemoul in Dundee. Kidd claims to have spotted that Chemoul had a pattern of set moves and George began to anticipate what would come next. George managed to defeat the Frenchman and complete his quest for the title. For the next 20 years and more, George successfully defended his world lightweight championship title against approximately 50 different challengers. Among the greatest challenges came from Adrian Street and Jim Breaks. 

George’s last bout was in 1976 and he retired from professional wrestling still claiming the World Lightweight title. George passed on some of his expertise to other wrestlers as he approached retirement, most famously to Johnny Saint. 

One of the major highlights of his career was wrestling in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Albert Hall in 1963. George was awarded Grampian TV Personality of the Year in 1965 and was honoured by an award from his home town of Dundee. In his retirement George supported Scottish youth and on 5th January 1998, aged 72, he passed away. Very few wrestlers have come close to George Kidd for skill, agility, flexibility, tenacity, inventiveness and single-minded determination to get to the top and stay there, a true great in the history of professional wrestling.

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