Up until my early 20’s I loved professional wrestling, I think it came from my Granddad telling me stories when wrestlers would preforming in Bradford and then go out for drinks with my Granddad. This lead me to look into Bradford wrestlers and it wasn’t long until I came across Les Kellett.
Les was born in Laisterdyke to Bill Kellett who was an Engineer, Les left School at 14 and although there was an expectation we would follow in his foot steps, Les became a professional wrestler in 1938.
The second World war did delay Les professional career as he joined the merchant navy as an engineer. After the War he settled in Manchester where he trained with fellow Wrestler Jim Hill who mentored Kellett in a small gym on swaine house road.
It wasn’t long after Les move back to Bradford to wrestle full time and had a “shoot” (Shoot means to have a real fight) trial match with Arthur Belshaw. Belshaw locked up Kellett’s Arm and told Kellett to Submit … “Break it!” was his response. It wasn’t long after this Les Toured the UK gaining fans in every town he visited.
Les wrestling style was often referred to as “clownish” but was one of the most popular British wrestlers before his retirement in 1975 at 53, although he would occasionally wrestle in to his 60’s.
Outside of the wrestling ring Les had a pig farm, there is a storey I remember reading where before wrestling bout, Les had been bite by a Pig and his hand had swelled up with an infection.
Les arrived at the venue and decide he could not wrestling with his hand blown up, grab won of the younger wrestlers, placed his hand on the floor and told the young lad to stamp on his hand.
The young lad, hesitated (as most of us would) … Les gave him and option “Stamp on my hand … or I’ll Stamp you”. The young wrestler stamped on Les hand and puss from the infection oozed out. In the changing room was a Cala Gas heater, Les put his hand against it to cauterise the wound and went out and wrestled.
When I mentioned Les at my gym it turns out that one of the guys Dad was friends with Les and he would go around and visit Les for a cup of tea and Chat. I would have loved to have met the man but Les passed away in 2002, I still see him as an inspiration as I am another Bradford Grappler.
There is a Twitter account for Les Kellett and a potential film … follow them @KellettFilm