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Sir Edward Atholl Oakeley, 7th Baronet of Shrewsbury (May 31, 1900 - January 1987) was a professional British Wrestler and Author.
A real life peer he had little interest in wrestling before being beaten up by some thugs. After that he decided that he should never been beaten up again and began training to defend himself. He built up a powerful physique by daily exercise and drinking eleven pints of milk a day, an amount recommended by George Hackenschmitt but which Hackenschmitt later claimed was a misprint. To learn the techniques needed to defend himself he turned to the legitimate sport of Amateur wrestling and became an accomplished amateur wrestler in his own right.
One day, when sparing with colleague Ben Sherman, Oakeley got his first taste of professional wrestling. Around this time there was no professional organisation to wrestling in Britain and only amateur wrestling was in use. After losing this gentlemanly tussle to Sherman to a submission hold after thirty minutes Oakeley was inspired to try and bring professional wrestling to Britain and turn it into a promotable business. In 1930 he got together with fellow grappler Henry Irslinger to create what was called "All-in" wrestling and on the 15th of December the two marked the creation of this group with two matches, while Irslinger fought Yugoslav Modrich at Olympia, London Oakeley fought Bert Assirati at Belle Vue, Manchester.
Oakeley always claimed that his "All-in" wrestling was completely legitimate and had no predertemined outcome and was only an organisation where wrestlers could face each other on an even basis in a professional environment. Interestingly enough though Promoter Oakeley soon defeated wrestler Bill Garnon to become the first ever British Heavyweight Champion.
Wrestling soon took off in Britain and wrestlers who previously wrestled once a week were now wrestling twice a day and wrestling was firmly established as a professional business, albeit one where amateur credentials were a job requirement, and now under the banner of the British Wrestling Association Oakeley's promotion rose to the top of the class. With the likes of Tommy Mann, Black Butcher Johnson, Jack Pye, Norman Ansell (Norman the Butcher), Jack Sherry and Jack Dale the BWA became the dominant force in British Wrestling and played a key role in the business before the start of WWII.
Business was great for a while. There were around forty regular venues in London alone for wrestling and reported crowds of up to 14,000. If Oakeley's recollection is to be believed then two million people watched a four match show as part of the celebrations when the Graf Zeppelin visited Heathrow Airport, but it is worth noting that Oakeley also claimed to have performed a headscissor takerdown on an opponent that stood over nine feet tall.
But by the late 1930s the boom in interest had died down and with London banning pro-wrestling as a result of the increase in gimmicky and overly violent matches wrestling in Britain was in bad shape before the start of WWII. But Oakeley had already left the ring permanently as he had retired in 1935 due to injury and dropped the British Heavyweight Title undefeated.
In addition to writing his biography "Blue Blood on the Mat" (which subsequent release brought about a very public argument between him and promoter Norman Morrell) Oakeley trained the accomplished Judo fighter Alfred Hayes (later known as Lord Alfred Hayes in the WWF) in professional wrestling but didn't have much more to do with wrestling.
He died in Devon in 1987.
Championships and Accomplishments
British Wrestling Association
- European Heavyweight Title - defeating Heinrich Froehner (?, 1932)