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March 18, 2012

Little Person Wrestling: 21 Amazing Vintage Photos of Midget Wrestlers From Between the 1960s and '70s

These days, the word midget is rarely used. Most little people prefer it that way, but there was a time not too long ago that ‘Midget Wrestling’ was a huge draw with thousands of fans. While it still exists today, these photos are taken of the unsung heroes who started the sport and kept it alive decades ago.

Many of the men you see here branched out into wrestling after traveling in carnivals or as part of circus acts. These wrestlers started a sport that was soon followed across America, Canada and England.

The most famous of these wrestlers (Sky Low Low, Little Beaver, Lord Littlebrook, Little Tokyo) had just the right strength and acrobatic skill to create spellbinding shows that completely impressed fans. They also threw in some comedy to the mix. Just as in the WWE, midget wrestlers fell into two categories—the ones who got cheered and the ones who got booed.

Photographer David Maciejewski is the genius who documented these wrestlers from 1966 to 1974. He’s responsible for the incredible photos you see below. More of Maciejewski’s superb photography can be seen here.

Little Bruiser in action against Bobo Johnson in Chicago, September 1972.

Sky Low Low (outside ring) in a tag team with Little Beaver (nearside) versus Mighty Atom, May 5, 1967.

Little Bruiser and Billy the Kid, September 23, 1972.

Little Tokyo and Billy the Kid

Referee George Gadaski talks to the legendary Little Beaver (back to camera) with tag partner Jamaica Kid to his left, and rivals Billy the Kid and Cowboy Bradley to his right.

Unknown wrestler getting flipped by Little Bruiser.

Cowboy Bob Bradley was born Robert Claton Bradley in Dickens County, TX, in February 1935. He dropped out of West Texas State College in 1953 to take up the fight game. He toured across America with fellow wrestlers and held several championship titles.

A wrestler called ‘Jack Cassidy’ ready to rumble in 1968.

Billy the Kid with Cowboy Bob Bradley (aka Robert Bradley).

Cowboy Bob Bradley and Joey Russell, February 23 1968.

Farmer Pete and Cowboy Lang backstage in Milwaukee, February 3, 1972.

Jamaica Kid and Little Beaver backstage at a wrestling arena April 25, 1969. Little Beaver was born Lionel Giroux in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec in 1935. he began his wrestling career at the age of fifteen and teamed up with fellow Canadian Sky Low Low, the pair going on to become two of the most famous wrestlers in history. He went on to win a clutch of wrestling awards including the NWA Midget Wrestling Championship twice and was a firm favorite with fans.

Billy the Kid born John William Guillot in Waco, Texas in 1936. Billy started his career in the 1950s, where he established himself as a wrestling ‘bad guy’. He was a clever and wily opponent who brought considerable showmanship to the arena. Though he never won a title, he was a firm favorite with fans.

Bobo Johnson also wrestled under the name the ‘Brown Panther.’ Best known for his tag performances with Louie Louie and later Rocky Johnson, Bobo was one of the earliest Black midget wrestlers alongside Haiti Kid. However, like many of his colleagues, his career and achievements have been sadly overlooked.

Cowboy Lang was born Harry Lang in Saskatchewan, Canada on August 28, 1950. He started wrestling at the age of fifteen and went on to become one the world’s top midget wrestler over a 30 year period, during which time he won the NWA World Midget Championship twice.

Farmer Pete wrestling in Milwaukee, December 3, 1972. Due to the lack of complete records, it is believed that Farmer Pete was World Champion for seven days in 1957, after beating Sonny Boy Cassidy, who won the title back in a rematch in October the same year.

Frenchy Lamonte heading for the ring in Tampa 1970. Frenchy Lamonte was also known as Rolly the Rocket, the Little Hawk, and Little Evilborn. He was born Roland Barriault in Sudbury, Ontario on July 22, 1946. From an early age, Lamonte had a great interest in wrestling deciding at eight to become a wrestler, telling his mother ‘I’m gonna be a dirty one.’ Trained by Lord Littlebrook, Lamonte made his debut in 1963. He went on to win one world title. He became good friends with fellow wrestler Andre the Giant and has a career as a movie actor. He was also credited by the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ as the ‘World’s Strongest Midget.’

Jamaica Kid in a publicity shot.

Little Bruiser in Chicago, September 1, 1972.

Little Tokyo (aka Shigeri Akabane) who was inspired to quit homeland and join Lord Littlebrook and his troupe after they visited Japan in the 1960s. Little Tokyo went on to win the NWA World Midget Champion three times equaling Lord Littlebrook’s achievement.

The legendary Lord Littlebrook (aka Eric Tovey), in Milwaukee July 7, 1968. A major star of ‘Midget Wrestling’ Littlebrook was born in England in 1929. He started his career as a circus acrobat before taking up wrestling in the 1950s. He moved to the US in the early 1960s, where he became NWA World Midget Champion—winning a record three times (tied with Little Tokyo). He continued wrestling until the late 1980s, when he was enshrined into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.


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