Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.

Warning

This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


WRESTLING

Wrestling, as it is controlled today by the New Zealand Wrestling Union, began on 22 July 1930 at a meeting held at the Central Fire Station, Wellington. Before this date matches had been promoted in New Zealand both privately and by local associations. The rules adopted covered the control both of amateur and of professional wrestling.

The sport flourished under the guidance of the union and in 1931 the first amateur championships were held: M. (“Lofty”) Blomfield, of Auckland, became first heavyweight amateur champion. Other winners were: light-heavy, G. Mowatt (Otago); middle, W. Nicoll (Palmerston North); welter, S. Lack (Wellington); light, A. Mace (Wellington); feather, W. Williamson (Auckland), and bantam, C. Jones (Auckland). It was then usual to hold North and South Island championships, with the winners meeting to decide the national title.

By 1935 it was difficult to find enough professionals, so that the union was pleased to welcome Walter Miller (an ex-professional world champion) as a booking agent and controller of the professional men. Professional wrestling became one of the leading public sports under Miller's guidance, and continued as such with various fortunes until his death in 1959.

The amateur sport also continued to grow, but it was never attractive enough to the public to draw paying gates, and its income was derived solely from the professional contests through the various associations. In 1936 applications were lodged and finally granted for affiliation both to the New Zealand Olympic and Empire Games Association and to the International Wrestling Federation. For the first time an Australian amateur team toured New Zealand. In 1938 New Zealand sent a full team to the Empire Games in Sydney. The Second World War constricted wrestling mainly to juniors, with a few bouts for servicemen. After the war both amateur and professional wrestling was most popular. The public continued to support the professionals and attendance records were established throughout the country. The amateur championships were renewed on a district basis and, in 1948, the Smale-Humphrey Shield was presented for the district gaining the highest number of titles, and the Allen Cup for the most scientific wrestler. Joe Pazandak became the first professional coach to be engaged by the union to give instruction to amateur clubs. The 1950 British Empire Games were held at Auckland, and the New Zealand amateurs were not disgraced by their overseas opponents. In 1953 the union set up an amateur subcommittee to give it advice on all amateur matters. District committees were also set up to work in conjunction with the local wrestling associations. A team of wrestlers, together with officials, was sent to the World Championships in Tokyo in 1954. In 1955 the Waikanae Training School was begun with great benefit to the sport and is being continued on a yearly basis.

In 1961 the amateur side of the sport decided to break away from the parent body and applied to the International Amateur Wrestling Federation for a transfer of affiliation. This was granted and the New Zealand Olympic and British Empire Games Association followed suit and advised the New Zealand Wrestling Union accordingly. The year 1962 saw the beginning of a possible revival of professional wrestling. There are now 18 associations affiliated to the union.



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