Most wrestling fans know the name Jack Dale as one of the founders and director of the leading wrestling promoter, Dale Martin Promotions.
In the decade before he began promoting wrestling Jack Dale was one of Britain's top lighter weight wrestlers. Good enough for the esteemed wrestling historian Charles Mascall to list him one of the world's greatest ever middleweight wrestlers; bettered in Britain only by Billy Riley.
Jack Dale at his best could beat anyone of similar poundage and many that were quite a bit heavier. His skill was supplemented by remarkable strength for one so slight of build, developed by a rigorous weight training routine which he continued long after retiring as a wrestler.
Before he started wrestling Jack was a physical culturalist trainer. But there was wrestling in the air; his father was a boxing and wrestling promoter. Which brings us to a bit of a mystery. Wrestling folklore relates that Len Abbey changed his name to Jack Dale for a wrestling promoter one night in 1929 when a promoter had advertised a non existent wrestler of that name. Fair enough, but by the time Jack's father, John George Abbey, was killed in a car crash in 1936, he also was known professionally as Jack Dale. It seems very unlikely that father would have taken his son's wrestling name, which leads to the conclusion that wrestling mythology is just that, a myth.
The earliest evidence of Jack Dale wrestling is 1933. He was soon wrestling far and wide, travelling up and down the country.
He was a fast and exciting grappler, known as the “King of the Flying Tackle,” and naming the double wristlock as his favourite hold when feeling less energetic. Bob Archer O’Brien said there was no tougher wrestler. By 1935 Jack Dale was British middleweight champion, a title he was destined to hold for fifteen years,by which time his priority was to develop the potential of the promotional business started by his father.
Jack formed a friendship with another young wrestler, Les Martin. They spotted the potential of professional wrestling as a spectator sport. Their first show was at Beckenham with Jack Dale topping the bill. With little money in reserve a failure at Beckenham would have meant a very quick end to Dale Martin Promotions. Fate stepped forward once again, and success at Beckenham was the start of Britain’s biggest and most influential wrestling promotion business.
Dale Martin Promotions soon became a member of Joint Promotions making them the most powerful wrestling organisation in the UK. In 1955 a television contact with ITV gave the promotion national coverage and this continued right up until wrestling was axed on ITV in 1988.
Despite Jack Dale selling out in the 1960s his name was an ever presence right up until the 1990s.
Jack Dale was a pioneer of wrestling and was one of those responsible for making it the great success it was and so rightly deserves his place in the Hall of Fame.