1904 – The first wrestling event
The association of wrestling and the Royal Albert Hall goes back to 2 July 1904, when the Estonian Georges Hackenschmidt, defeated the American champion Tom Jenkins at the Hall for a purse of £2,500.
The match was allowed to go ahead under Greco-Roman rules on the condition that the display was: “free from anything vulgar or incompatible with the dignity and reputation of the Hall, and that the competitors would be properly clothed so that there would be nothing of the semi-nude in the entertainment”.
A military band accompanied as Hackenschmidt pinned the American in two straight falls. Measures were put in place to ensure that betting was prohibited and there was a strong police presence.
Click to enlarge:
1950s – 1980s
Wrestling continued to be very popular at the Hall, with up to 7 or 8 matches each year during the 1950s to the early 1980s.
On 22 May 1963, the Duke of Edinburgh became the first Royal to attend a charity wrestling contest since Tudor times. The event featured some of the top names in wrestling and raised £10,000 for His Royal Highness’s Award Scheme. He was joined by Labour MP and wrestling fan Bessie Braddock.
The Duke of Edinburgh returned in 1968, on each visit he entered the ring to shake hands with the competing wrestlers.
1991 – WWF Battle Royal
October 1991 saw the arrival of the World Wrestling Federation’s Battle Royal at the Royal Albert Hall.
Some of the biggest names from the WWF took part, with the event culminating in a twenty-man ‘Battle Royal’.
The Nasty Boys defeated The Rockers
Ric Flair defeated Tito Santana
Earthquake defeated Big Boss Man
The Undertaker defeated “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
The Mountie defeated Texas Tornado
The British Bulldog defeated The Barbarian
Tag Team Championship Match: Legion of Doom defeated Power & Glory
Twenty man over the top rope Battle Royal: The British Bulldog eliminated Typhoon to win
Footage of Battle Royal at the Royal Albert Hall: