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legace

Which Countries Have Known Pre-1970 Pro-Wrestling Footage?

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As the title of this topic suggests, I'm attempting to make a list of which countries have known professional wrestling footage from before the year 1970. I'll be using this post to list every country I come across where footage is known to exist so it's easier for those interested to locate them. Anytime anything new is added I'll also leave a reply for the same reason. Below is a list of the countries that I know for sure have some existing footage. Next to each one, as a reference guide, I've written in bold the kind of footage that is available. Also above the list is a "key" explaining the differences between each type of footage:

Key

- filmreel = footage recorded on film with no obvious edits.
- filmreel clips = highlights recorded on film with sound.
- silent filmreel = footage recorded on film with no obvious edits apart from sound.
- silent filmreel clips = highlights recorded on film with no sound.
- newsreel clips = news highlights recorded on film with sound.
- newsreel clips with subtitles = news highlights recorded on film with sound and subtitles.
- silent newsreel clips = news highlights recorded on film with no sound.
- silent newsreel clips with subtitles = news highlights recorded on film with no sound but with subtitles.
- television = broadcast television footage.
- television clips = edited broadcast television footage.

List Of Countries With Known Pre-1970 Pro-Wrestling Footage

- Argentina (newsreel clips || newsreel clips with subtitles || silent newsreel clips with subtitles).
- Australia (filmreel clips || silent filmreel clips || newsreel clips || silent newsreel clips || television).
- Austria (newsreel clips).
- Bolivia.
- Brazil (newsreel clips).
- Canada (filmreel clips || silent filmreel clips || television).
- Colombia.
- Czechoslovakia.
- Denmark.
- Finland.
- France.
- Germany.
- Greece.
- Ireland.
- Italy.
- Japan.
- Mexico.
- New Zealand.
- Rhodesia.
- Russia.
- South Africa.
- Spain.
- Switzerland.
- United Kingdom.
- United States.

If anyone knows of any countries or any available footage I'm missing from the list then please let me know!

 

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India definitely had pro wrestling before 1970; I think there is some footage of Lou Thesz v. Dara Singh out there. It did not really become a thing until WWE's rise though.

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Austria I would suppose has pro-wrestling as long as the US (I definitely know that there was pro wrestling (called "Freistilringen" - freestyle wrestling) in the early 50ies and I did never spend any time on doing any historical research).

There were also those clips of Jim Londos in Greece from the 30ies, but I assume those were one-ofs.

cagematch has results from wrestling shows from Italy from the 1930ies (starring Henry Deglane) and the 50ies (having guys like Karl Gotch, Dick Steinborn and Primo Carnera and a bunch of Austrians like Georg Blemenschütz and Adi Berber). Not sure if these indicates one-of shows / tours or regular existance of pro wrestling in those countries. I suppose at one point or another there were shows basically everywhere in western Europe (you can find single shows in cagematch for many countries like Belgium or Spain, Portugal).

I am sure that there was pro wrestling imported from Mexico in some Central American countries before 1970. Panama and Guatemala are obvious candidates (which cagematch confirms). Maybe there was also wrestling in some Carribean countries, though considering that wrestling in Puerto Rico seemed to have started only in the early 70ies, those were probably no regular things. Maybe the Florida territory ran a show here or there (there are a couple of results of shows in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico from 1969 on cagematch).

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King Kong Czaja toured India, Pakistan and Singapore in the 1950s and ‘60s. But I don’t know if there were regular events.

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I would recommmend contacting Gernot Freiberger on Facebook (he posts as Pantaleon Manlapig in some places). He is a wrestling historian and extremely knowledgable on this subject.

 

I already posted this answer on WKO, but more people are gonna see it here.

Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland or Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, damn near every south american country... there's also reports of wrestler crews touring countries like Singapore before they ever had a scene of their own. I am pretty sure almost every country that wasn't a communist dictatorship or war torn had pro wrestling. Note: wrestling was banned in all soviet countries post WW2, so probably no footage from Czech Republic or Hungary. I think only a handful of countries had wrestling on TV, sadly, so atmost you'll find newsreel footage or movies, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
 
As far as clips goes:
 
- there are some extremely brief black & white clips of Rene Lasartesse wrestling in Switzerland shown in a swiss documentary of him.
 
- I saw some short clips of old Spanish wrestling searching one of the online Spanish film archives. I think there may be even a Spanish documentary on it. There's very few info on the internet, though. I think Gernot also wrote a few lengthy english or spanish articles on the subject.
 
- I saw a very short clip of wrestling in Sweden or Finland in the 1960s or 1950s, I think I even posted it on PWO a while ago, but can't find the post now.
 

- there are also a few clips of old German and Austrian wrestling that can be found in old newsreel footage, such as this:

 

There's also quite a bit of footage of congolese wrestler Edingwe here, but I am not sure how old it is:

 

Bud Spencer fights a couple wrestlers in this 1973 Italian movie (note that this movie is set in the 1920s):

 

 

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Wrestling used to be a big deal in South Africa. I'd wager it's been active/thriving for around 70+ years, though it definitely dwindled towards the end of the 80s/early 90s. Regarding footage, I don't think there's anything before the 70s. Most of the oldest articles online are about the CWA (1973-1977ish). I'd guess the earliest footage we have would be that - seeing Otto Wanz was crowned the inaugral CWA champ here in Cape Town.

The oldest footage I've seen were some clips spliced into a candid camera movie from the late 80s. 

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36 minutes ago, Rah said:

Wrestling used to be a big deal in South Africa. I'd wager it's been active/thriving for around 70+ years, though it definitely dwindled towards the end of the 80s/early 90s. Regarding footage, I don't think there's anything before the 70s. Most of the oldest articles online are about the CWA (1973-1977ish). I'd guess the earliest footage we have would be that - seeing Otto Wanz was crowned the inaugral CWA champ here in Cape Town.

The oldest footage I've seen were some clips spliced into a candid camera movie from the late 80s. 

 

I seem to remember the Simpson brothers' dad being a promoter in South Africa but that might have been some kayfabe Apter Mag stuff I read back in the day.

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Thanks for all your help with this everyone!

 

On 1/14/2020 at 10:57 PM, Rah said:

Wrestling used to be a big deal in South Africa. I'd wager it's been active/thriving for around 70+ years, though it definitely dwindled towards the end of the 80s/early 90s. Regarding footage, I don't think there's anything before the 70s. Most of the oldest articles online are about the CWA (1973-1977ish). I'd guess the earliest footage we have would be that - seeing Otto Wanz was crowned the inaugral CWA champ here in Cape Town.

The oldest footage I've seen were some clips spliced into a candid camera movie from the late 80s. 

I actually saw a newsreel yesterday of some wrestling from Rhodesia in 1959, but I don't really know if that would count as South Africa or not?

 

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Just now, legace said:

I actually saw a newsreel yesterday of some wrestling from Rhodesia in 1959, but I don't really know if that would count as South Africa or not?

While Africa is the continent, Rhodesia would be more akin to modern Zimbabwe than South Africa.

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New Zealand was slow to adopt television. The first official broadcast was in 1960 and the country didn't have network television until 1969. If there was any wrestling shown on TV during this time it would have been from overseas. During the 50s boom, wrestling events were broadcast on radio. The television show On The Mat didn't start until 1975. 

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On 1/17/2020 at 3:46 PM, ohtani's jacket said:

New Zealand was slow to adopt television. The first official broadcast was in 1960 and the country didn't have network television until 1969. If there was any wrestling shown on TV during this time it would have been from overseas. During the 50s boom, wrestling events were broadcast on radio. The television show On The Mat didn't start until 1975. 

Okay thank you very much for that information mate. I found some newsreel footage from New Zealand yesterday but nothing from TV and after what you've said here it's very doubtful there is any.

 

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There's a guy called Michael 'Power Mike' Okpala from Nigeria who seemed to start out as a strongman in the 50's and went into wrestling in the 1960's once he arrived in Europe. However, he's listed as defeating Massambula in Gambia in 1970 which tells me there must have been a wrestling scene in West Africa in the late sixties. I can't imagine footage would be easy to come by though. 

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On 1/18/2020 at 6:16 PM, Viking Hall said:

There's a guy called Michael 'Power Mike' Okpala from Nigeria who seemed to start out as a strongman in the 50's and went into wrestling in the 1960's once he arrived in Europe. However, he's listed as defeating Massambula in Gambia in 1970 which tells me there must have been a wrestling scene in West Africa in the late sixties. I can't imagine footage would be easy to come by though. 

I've only seen 1 video that has African footage sadly, which I linked a few posts up.

 

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There's a pretty good amount, between filmed highlights as well as some TV that's been released on video--maybe not full episodes, but healthy chunks of them.

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UPDATE: While I'd known for a while that lucha footage from before the year 1970 existed, I wasn't 100% sure or not if there are only clips floating around or actual TV footage, however, last night whilst browsing YouTube I came across this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyMGlyMgSyQ&fbclid=IwAR3K3vjljnhI4f8QMhxoImZGQJVqqjTgEf99oqtA8aajpxu_yKpRP7vVdMQ

It's Rene Guajardo & Espanto Segundo -vs- Black Shadow & Rolando Vera from 1966, it's joined-in-progress but has the last 7 minutes of the match without interruption and appears to have been taken from a TV show. This is the most complete pre-1970 lucha footage I've ever seen!

 

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There's a complete match in the 1962 film Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro. It was done specifically for the movie, but it appears to be an actual worked wrestling match and not choreographed beforehand. From what I've seen so far, 60s lucha looks awesome. Lots of gritty brawling.

 

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On 2/2/2020 at 4:18 PM, NintendoLogic said:

There's a complete match in the 1962 film Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro. It was done specifically for the movie, but it appears to be an actual worked wrestling match and not choreographed beforehand. From what I've seen so far, 60s lucha looks awesome. Lots of gritty brawling.

 

That's pretty cool, I didn't know that. I still wouldn't count it as a proper match though since it isn't part of a show or anything in the traditional sense.

 

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