Day 86, No. 86. Big Daddy

Shirley Crabtree, JrHAIRCUT 100: Day 86, No. 86. Before WWE there was: Shirley Crabtree, Jr (1930–1997), master of the ‘big splash,’ better known as ‘Big Daddy.’ Who remembers their mum screaming at the wrestling on ITV’s World of Sport on Saturday afternoons in the seventies? One-time coal miner and Coldstream Guard, Halifax-born Big Daddy started out in the 1950s, billed as the ‘Blond Adonis.’ (He had originally played for the rugby league team Bradford Northern, but his temper tended to get the better of him on the pitch resulting in many early baths.) After a career hiatus, he reinvented himself as a villain in the early-70s working for Joint Promotions and the British Wrestling Federation. Then he teamed up with Giant Haystacks (Martin Ruane, 1946–1998) and the rest is history. At the height of his fame, there was even a Big Daddy comic strip in Buster. After the death of Malcolm ‘King Kong’ Kirk at a tag-team bout in Great Yarmouth in 1987, ‘devastated’ Crabtree (who was cleared of any culpability – Kirk had a heart problem), began to withdraw from the world of wrestling, formally retiring in the early-90s. He died of a stroke in his beloved Halifax in 1997, leaving behind his wife of 31 years, Eunice, and six children. ‘Who’s the Daddy?’

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