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Tributes to taxi driving ex-wrestler

Harry 'Paul' Duval. Picture courtesy of www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk

Harry 'Paul' Duval. Picture courtesy of www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk

Tributes have been paid to a former wrestler who became one of Preston’s best-known taxi drivers.

Harry Duval, who lived in the Lane Ends, Ashton area of Preston, died last weekend.

Mr Duval, thought to be in his 70s, was born in Montserrat in the Caribbean and moved to the UK as a youngster.

He first became famous as a wrestler, then as a pub landlord and stylish cab driver who always wore a chaffeur’s cap.

Mark Selley, of Preston Hackney Carriage Association, said Mr Duval retired around nine years ago.

He said: “He was a larger-than-life character.

“He used to wear a chauffeur’s outfit with a cap to drive his cab. It was always immaculately kept - as was he.

“In the 60s he was a wrestler and quite a fearsome character and that added to his mystique.

“He was a publican and quite well known among other publicans for helping to sort out troublemakers!”

Fellow association member Steve Baines said Mr Duval wrestled at Courtaulds Mill at Redscar and ran the Prince Consort in Aqueduct Street in the late 70s and early 80s.

He said: “He always used to wear a black sharp suit and a carnation. On his top pocket he had an emblem that said Preston Hackney Carriage.

“I would imagine a lot of people going back to the 60s would know him. He was a big guy - tall and well built.”

According to the British wrestling website www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk, Mr Duval was a “powerful, muscular heavyweight” and “a strong contender for the title of Britain’s most underrated wrestler”, who sometimes wrestled under the name of Paul Duval.

His profile says: “Many of Harry’s bouts were preceded by a demonstration of the power of his lungs as he blew up a hot water bottle until it exploded.

“For fans or promoters though, that was not enough, and neither was his terrific strength, submission style wrestling and considerable ability.

“Wins over Prince Curtis Iaukea, Albert Wall, Pat Roach and Gwyn Davies, and even ‘The Wrestler’ magazine’s prediction that here was the man most likely to succeed Billy Robinson, were not enough to convince the promoters that here was a man with the potential to become one of wrestling’s post war greats.

“We are told that Harry began using the name Paul Duval when another wrestler of that name failed to turn up for promoter Jack Taylor one night at Leicester.”

Did you know Mr Duval or do you have any memories of his wrestling career? Contact Neil Docking on 01772 838028 or email neil.docking@lep.co.uk.

 

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