Pre War Wrestling 1930-1940




“ALL-IN” Wrestling was first introduced into this country in the autum of 1930 when a promotion was to be staged at the Royal Albert Hall, London by two former world champion wrestlers; Henri Irslinger, and Benny Sherman. But due to official red tape the promotion was postponed until December, when two shows were staged on the same night, one at Olympia London, and the other at Bell Vue, Manchester. At Olympia Henri Irslinger opposed George Modrich, while in Manchester Bert Assirati grappled Atholl Oakley. These matches were shown alongside professional boxing.


The word “ALL-IN” will mean only the amalgamation of the leading styles of wrestling then in vogue, namely Judo (or Ju-Jitsu), Catch-as-Catch-Can, and Graeco-Roman. The object being to make the new style of wrestling more exciting, and pleasing to the general public. Gone were the days when two giant wrestlers would be locked in combat on the mat for hours.

Wrestling from now on was going to be structured, there would be a wrestling board of control, timed rounds, and victory would be obtained by two falls, two submissions, or a knockout.


At the start of 1931 a heavyweight tournament was staged at Lanes Club, Baker Street, London to decide who would be the first “ALL-IN” heavyweight champion. After a number of bouts Douglas Clark of Huddersfield, a former rugby league player, and Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling champion emerged victorious having beaten Atholl Oakley in the final.


Venues up and down the country started to show the new style of “ALL-IN” wrestling alongside boxing at places like St James Hall Newcastle, Liverpool Stadium, Leeds Town Hall, Olympia Bradford, Smethwick Market Birmingham, White City Hull, National Sporting Club Middlesborough, Madeley Street Baths Hull, Casino Rochester, Granby Hall Leicester, Pavilion Whitechapel, Stadium Club Holborn, The Ring Blackfriars, Coliseum Southampton, The Stadium Blackpool, Victoria Baths Nottingham, etc, etc.


“ALL-IN” wrestling started attracting bad publicity in the late thirties when it promoted shows which included mud wrestling, blind wrestling, and wrestling matches between men and women, and women versus women. The London County Council which regulated wrestling started banning it in their halls. Wrestling continued up until the outbreak of the second world war, when attendances declined, and halls closed down. It continued again briefly as an entertainment for the troops, and the civilians employed in the factories helping the war effort.


www.allinwrestling.co.uk           email:   mikehallinan2001@aol.com        link:    www.bertassirati.com