Great British Wrestlers Directory

BIG DADDY

Shirley Crabtree, better known in the ring as Big Daddy, was a former rugby league player, coalminer and Coldstream Guardsman before following in his father's footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler. He made his debut in 1952 and made a big name for himself on the Independent circuit. Back then he was known as The Battling Guardsman, The Blonde Adonis or Mr Universe depending on what promotion he was working for at the time. He quit the sport for over 15 years but was tempted back to the ring in the 70's by his brother Max - a former wrestler himself and now a top promoter - who changed Shirley's name to Big Daddy. With his sparkling Union Jack gowns and top hat, Big Daddy became the children's and

pensioner's favourite - and so the monster was born. But make no mistake, Daddy could wrestle in his day and was a very good heavyweight. 

But as his weight increased and he found it more difficult to move about the ring, he depended more and more on the 'double elbow drop' and the 'belly butt' to get him over. Despite this, he continued to be the biggest draw and best known name in the business. His feuds with 'Mighty' John Quinn and his former tag partner Giant Haystacks were legendary and sold out the huge Wembley Arena - a feat unheard of before or since for a British wrestling show. Most of his bouts were tag matches in which he would be partnered by much lighter men like a young Dynamite Kid, Steve Grey or in his later years Ireland's Tony Stewart. Daddy played the part of the cavalry - coming to the rescue of his partner who appeared to have been beaten senseless. With the crowd chanting "Easy, Easy", Daddy would march back to the dressing room to the strains of 'We Shall Not Be Moved' - slapping as many kids as he could on the way. He died in December 1997 aged 68.

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