Lord James Blears
|Lord James Blears|
Blears in 1949
|Birth name||James Ranicar Blears|
|Born||August 13, 1923|
Tyldesley, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||March 3, 2016 (aged 92)|
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
|Spouse(s)||Lenora Adelaina (her death)|
|Family||4; including Jimmy Blears and Laura Lee Ching|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Jan Blears|
Lord James Blears
|Billed weight||190 lb (86 kg)|
Lord Blears (born James Ranicar Blears, August 13, 1923 – March 3, 2016) was a British-American professional wrestler, ring announcer, promoter, actor, mariner, and surfing personality.
Blears was born in Tyldesley, Lancashire, England in the United Kingdom on August 13, 1923. A successful swimmer in school, he was selected for the British swimming team for the 1940 Summer Olympics but was unable to compete due to World War II.
Blears enlisted in the Merchant Navy in 1940 during World War II, with his knowledge of Morse code leading to him being made a radio officer. Whilst serving as second wireless operator on board the SS Tjisalak, a Dutch merchant ship, his ship was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-8 on March 26, 1944 during a voyage from Melbourne, Australia to Colombo, Ceylon. The survivors were taken prisoner by the Japanese and the majority were summarily executed by beheading. Blears managed to escape by leaping into the water and found his way into a lifeboat, where he and four other survivors began attempting to sail to Ceylon until the United States Navy liberty ship SS James O. Wilder retrieved them three days later. Blears was given a can of peaches by his rescuers and celebrated every year thereafter on March 29 by eating a can of peaches.
Professional wrestling career
In 1946, he relocated to New York City in the United States, where he shared an apartment on Amsterdam Avenue with fellow wrestlers Stu Hart and Sandor Kovacs. Early in his United States career, Blears wrestled as "Jan Blears".
In the early 1950s, Blears developed the villainous character of "Lord Blears", a snooty British aristocrat who wore a cape and monocle and carried a cane. He was managed by the tuxedo-wearing Captain Leslie Holmes, a friend of Blears' from his schooldays who had also traveled to the United States.
In the early 1950s, Blears relocated to California. In 1952, he formed a tag team with Lord Athol Layton. Managed by Holmes, in 1953, they won the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Chicago version) in the Chicago-based Fred Kohler Enterprises. Blears also wrestled for Worldwide Wrestling Associates, where he held the WWA International Television Tag Team Championship eight times between 1954 and 1957, and for NWA San Francisco, where he held the NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) on two occasions in 1953 and 1954 with Layton and the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) four times between 1955 and 1957.
In the late 1950s, Blears relocated to Hawaii after developing a fondness for the state during a tour, where he built his career in the Honolulu-based promotion 50th State Big Time Wrestling. Blears had a single reign as NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Champion, defeating King Curtis Iaukea on October 25, 1961. He lost the championship to the Masked Executioner on December 13, 1961. Blears also held the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship numerous times between 1955 and 1964.
At the invitation of Rikidōzan, Blears began wrestling in Japan in the 1950s. After the death of Rikidōzan in 1963, Giant Baba – the owner of All Japan Pro Wrestling – asked him to identify foreign wrestlers to perform for AJPW. Blears arranged for wrestlers such as Davey Boy Smith, Don Leo Jonathan and Dynamite Kid to tour Japan. From 1973 to 2001, Blears made appearances with AJPW as an on-screen authority figure under the title of chairman of the Pacific Wrestling Federation.
In the 1980s, Blears provided commentary for the American Wrestling Association's broadcasts on ESPN. At the AWA supercard "Super Sunday" on April 24, 1983, Blears served as guest referee for a high-profile title bout between Hulk Hogan and AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel that saw Bockwinkel retain via a Dusty finish.
Blears made his first acting appearance in 1950, playing a dramatized version of himself in an episode of The Buster Keaton Show.
In 1966, Blears appeared in the surfing documentary The Endless Summer, playing himself. He played himself once more in the 1974 professional wrestling documentary The Wrestler. In 1987, he appeared in the surfing movie North Shore.
While living in Chicago, Blears met Leonora "Lee" Adelaina (died 2007), who he would ultimately marry. The couple had four children: two sons, James Jr. ("Jimmy") (1948–2011) and Clinton, and two daughters, Laura (born 1951) and Carol. All four rose to prominence as professional surfers.
|1966||The Endless Summer||Himself|
|1987||North Shore||Contest director|
|1950||The Buster Keaton Show||Himself||Episode: "Buster in Training"|
|1977||Hawaii Five-O||Arfie Loudermilk||Episode: "You Don't See Many Pirates These Days"|
|1982||Magnum, P.I.||Ring announcer||Episode: "Mr. White Death"|
|1983||Magnum, P.I.||Bartender||Episode: "Squeeze Play "|
Championships and accomplishments
- 50th State Big Time Wrestling
- Fred Kohler Enterprises
- NWA San Francisco
- NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (2 times) – with Lord Athol Layton
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (4 times) – with Gene Kiniski (3 times) and Ben Sharpe (1 time)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2019
- Worldwide Wrestling Associates
- WWA International Television Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Lord Athol Layton (2 times), Joe Pazandak (1 time), Sandor Kovacs (1 time), Lord Leslie Carlton (2 times), Henry Lenz (1 time), and Nick Bockwinkel (1 time)
- John Grasso (6 March 2014). Historical Dictionary of Wrestling. Scarecrow Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-8108-7926-3.
- "Obituaries". The Honolulu Advertiser. Black Press. December 2, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
- Oliver, Greg (March 2016). "Lord James Blears dies". Canoe.ca. Quebecor Media. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
- Harris M. Lentz III (1 January 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2nd ed. McFarland. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7864-1754-4.
- Chad Dell (2006). The Revenge of Hatpin Mary: Women, Professional Wrestling and Fan Culture in the 1950s. Peter Lang. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-8204-7270-6.
- Heath McCoy (1 October 2007). Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling, Revised Edition. ECW Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-55490-299-6.
- "Lord James Blears", The Times, p. 54, 2 May 2016
- George, Sam (March 8, 2016). "Lord James Blears: 1924-2016". Surfline. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
- Berger, John (March 29, 2001). "A meal of peaches serves as a reminder of life's sweetness". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Black Press. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
- Bernard Edwards (1997). Blood and Bushido: Japanese Atrocities at Sea 1941-1945. Brick Tower Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-883283-18-6.
- Raymond Lamont-Brown (31 March 2013). Ships from Hell: Japanese War Crimes on the High Seas in World War II. History Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7524-9483-8.
- George Schire (2010). Minnesota's Golden Age of Wrestling: From Verne Gagne to the Road Warriors. Minnesota Historical Society. pp. 96, 139. ISBN 978-0-87351-620-4.
- Fortnight: The Newsmagazine of California. O.D. Keep. 1951. p. 44.
- Ostler, Scott (August 22, 1985). "Only in this group could Lord Blears be a guest of honor". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
- "NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Title [San Francisco]". Solie.org. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Greg Oliver; Steven Johnson (2007). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. ECW Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-55490-284-2.
- Kristian Pope (14 August 2005). Tuff Stuff Professional Wrestling Field Guide: Legend and Lore. Krause Publications. p. 46. ISBN 1-4402-2810-8.
- Meltzer, Dave (March 14, 2016). "March 14, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Diaz defeats McGregor, Hayabusa passes away". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 20–25. ISSN 1083-9593.
- Bill Watts; Scott Williams (January 2006). The Cowboy and the Cross: The Bill Watts Story: Rebellion, Wrestling and Redemption. ECW Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-55022-708-6.
- Brian Solomon (1 April 2015). Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the World's Most Entertaining Spectacle. Backbeat Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-61713-627-6.
- Terry Rowan. Bikini, Surfing & Beach Party Movies. Lulu.com. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-312-12047-1.
- Bowker (1983). Variety's Film Reviews: 1971-1974. Rr Bowker Llc. ISBN 978-0-8352-2793-3.
- Karen Rhodes (1 January 1997). Booking Hawaii Five-O: An Episode Guide and Critical History of the 1968-1980 Television Detective Series. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-0171-0.
- Jerome T. Hagen (1 January 1996). War in the Pacific. Hawaii Pacific University. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-9653927-0-9.
- Bruce Boal (1 May 2009). The Surfing Yearbook. Gibbs Smith. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-4236-0558-4.
- Stuart Holmes Coleman (28 April 2009). Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing. St. Martin's Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4299-3770-2.
- William Finnegan (6 August 2015). Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Little, Brown Book Group. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-1-4721-5140-7.
- Ben Marcus (15 November 2013). 365 Surfboards: The Coolest, Raddest, Most Innovative Boards from Around the World. MBI Publishing Company. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-61058-855-3.
- Adrian Room (1981). Naming Names: Stories of Pseudonyms and Name Changes, with a Who's Who. Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-7100-0920-3.
- Gerry Lopez (17 April 2015). Surf Is Where You Find It. Patagonia. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-938340-25-3.
- Dan Cisco (1999). Hawai'i Sports: History, Facts, and Statistics. University of Hawaii Press. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-8248-2121-0.
- Oliver, Greg (May 4, 2006). "Sam Steamboat was a Hawaiian legend". Canoe.ca. Quebecor Media. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- "Legendary Hawaiian pro wrestler, announcer dies at 92". Hawaii News Now. March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- Harris M. Lentz III (9 May 2011). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2010. McFarland. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-7864-8649-6.