Big Daddy Killed King Kong Kirk During A Wrestling Match


Hamish Woodward

Big Daddy killed Mal “King Kong” Kirk during a wrestling match on August 24, 1987. This incident happened during a tag team match, and was one that haunted Daddy for the rest of his life.

Alongside his nephew Steve Valentine, Big Daddy battled against King Kong Kirk and King Kendo (a knock-off of the famous Kendo Nagasaki). The match went as they usually did, with Daddy’s tag partner doing the bulk of the work, as the 30-stone behemoth waited to be tagged in.

Things were going well. Big Daddy got the hot tag at the end of the match, and did all his signature moves. He finally hit the “Big Daddy Splash” on Kirk, as one of the last bits of action of the match.

Daddy looked over Kirk, expecting him to sell the move and roll away. But the man just lay still. The match was called off, with the good-guys being awarded the victory. However, nobody came out the winner in this bout.

Reports from the day claimed that Kirk turned “an unhealthy colour” after the attack by Daddy. He lay motionless in the ring, and had to be carted off in an ambulance.

It took a reported eight paramedics to lift him into the ambulance. This was owing to his 25 stone frame (around 350lbs).

King Kong Kirk was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Emergency medical workers tried to revive the 350-pound Kirk at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth after the accident, but he was already gone by the time he arrived at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

Big Daddy Was Devastated By Causing Kirk’s Death In The Ring

Big Daddy was devastated that he had caused the death of a man in the ring. A wrestling match is not a real contest, and is more of a collaboration between two performers, more akin to a dance than a fight.

He felt responsible for the man’s death, and never truly recovered from the impact. Kirk’s death affected him until his own death in 1997, a decade after the incident.

It was later determined by doctors that the death was not Shirley Crabtree’s fault. The inquest into Kirk’s death found that he had a serious heart condition and cleared Crabtree of any responsibility.

He died of a heart attack, as reported by the BBC in 2017.

Big Daddy was interviewed by the news following the accident. He showed great remorse for his part of the death, claiming he’d “never forget” seeing him laying dead in the ring. The ring was a place where Daddy sought solace from a tough life, and seeing it filled with death was a tragedy.

Speaking on the news in 1987, Shirley Crabtree said:

“I had wrestled him. I mean it was as strong as three men.He was 25 stone. He was known as the Pittman’s Hercules and as long as I’ll live I’ll never forget seeing him laid down there on the canvas instead of on his feet, raging and and, you know, and flying about and that will stay with me.”

You can see the full interview down below:

Great Yarmouth police issued a statement on the Monday after the match, saying: ″Big Daddy and King Kong Kirk were in the ring wrestling and during the bout King Kong Kirk was held to the floor by Big Daddy for the statutory count of three. Big Daddy got to his feet, but after a few moments it was realized that King Kong Kirk was not moving.″

Big Daddy wrestled the next night. While this seems insensitive, it was a different time. If he did not wrestle, he did not earn money to feed his family. In addition, tickets were sold on his name alone, and missing out would mean letting down numerous fans in the arenas.

It was really an impossible call to make. Big Daddy never forgot about King Kong Kirk’s death, and it is a tragedy fans will always remember.


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