Grunts and Grapples: Exploring the visual culture of British wrestling

Design historian and author Kerry Purcell has spent the past few years collecting posters, ephemera and photographs from the golden age of British wrestling. We talk to Purcell about the sport’s appeal and its place in UK visual culture

Kerry Purcell attended his first wrestling bout when he was around 10 years old. In 1979 or 1980, his Dad took him to the pier at Cleethorpes to watch Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks compete in the ring. Purcell wasn’t an avid fan of the sport but he often watched wrestling segments in ITV’s Saturday primetime show World of Sport and was intrigued by the idea of seeing TV wrestlers in the flesh. He went along and was amazed by the spectacle of the sport and the reaction from the audience.

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