Norman Morrell was an English professional wrestler and Promoter who was one of the most influential men in British Wrestling history.
Morrell was an accomplished Amateur wrestler. He won the British Featerweight Championship for an unprecedented four straight years from 1932 to 1936 and represented his country at the 1936 Olpymic Games in Berlin in the Featherweigth Freestyle division but depite a commendable performance he was disappointed to come away without a medal.
Shortly after the 1936 Olympic Games Morrell made the decision to turn Professional and in the short period before the Second World War disrupted proceeding he firmly established himself as one of the top wrestlers in his weight category in Britain and had even claimed a victory over the great Harold Angus. This brief tenure in Professional wrestling in the pre-War years gave Morrell a better understanding of the inner workings of the business and there was much of it that he disliked. He believed that Wrestling was a pure sport and there was very little pure sport about the professional scene.
Before the Second World War the British wrestling world was in some manner of chaos. The business had lost its former luster and appeal - with many gimmicky matches like mud wrestling replacing the proper match - and many wrestlers and promoters had left the business all together. The outbreak of War did little to change this but it did provide a certain group of people with a chance to break with the past and create their own version of the business. Morrell was not the only man to realise this opportunity but he was the only man to seize the moment.
Seeing that the old rules of wrestling no longer worked Morrell sat down and penned a new set of rules unique to British Wrestling to replace those addapted from American Wrestling but he realised that the new rules alone were not enough. For the public to take note of these changes he needed a public statement to grab their interest and knew that an announcement of new rules from a little known figure like him would hold little clout and knew that a grand gesture was needed for these changes to be duly noted. He found that grand gesture in Admiral Lord Edward Mountevens, 1st Baron of Chelsea. Mountevens was a former Antartic explorer who had only recently gained his peerage in 1946. Mountevens was persuaded to put his name to the new set of rules and thus brought a high profile to them and established the style British Wrestling was to be for the next fifty years.
After this Morrell became an integral part of Joint Promotions where he served as a promoter, trainer of new talent and defender of the Business.
When Sir Athol Oakeley made some derogatory statements about post-war Wrestling in "Blue Blood on the Mat" (his autobiography) Morrell went immediately on the offensive and vigorously defended the business. While Morrell had not been mentioned by name in Oakeley's accusations and the show he referred to could have been any number of wrestling shows in any part of Britain Morrell risked his own money and began legal proceedings against Oakeley which ended with Oakely having to issue a humiliating public apology in numerous wrestling publications around the Country, which was as followed
On another occasion a former referee Don Branch was behind an expose in British Professional wrestling that was published in the National press. For Morrell, who had employed Branch as a wrestler and referee, this was a moment of great sadness and disappointment for him. Again Morrell was vigorous and aggressive in his defense. He denied all the claims made by Branch and issued a public challenge for Branch to set in the ring with any wrestler. While being a bit of theatrical showmanship it did create the desired response in the Country at large. Not only did Branch's claim appear to be outrageous but by failing to respond to Morrell's challenge he appeared to the country to be unable to back up his claims and the integrity of the business was preserved.
Perhaps more influential as a promoter than a wrestler Morrell was one of the more important men in British wrestling history. Having written the rules for the Mountevens style, trianed a number of those who used it and defended it vigorously against all who would criticize it he was arguably the most influential man in the Post-War era of British Wrestling.
Championships and Accomplishments
- British Featherweight Championship Champion (4 times)
- 1936 Olympian