The 1947 Mountevans Rules Changed Professional Wrestling Forever


Hamish Woodward

The creation of the Mountevans Rules in 1947 was one of the most important moments in British Wrestling history.

After All-In Wrestling turned wrestling into a bloodthirsty, ungovernable mess, something had to be done. The task of fixing the wrestling business in the UK fell to Edward Evans, the 1st Baron Mountevans in 1947.

To save the sport from being banned across the country, he sought to bring the wrestling world together. This unified ruleset made wrestling more palatable to the regular fan, and brought it to new heights over the next 50 years.

What Are The Mountevans Rules?

In 1947, the wrestling world was in turmoil, and needed changing.

Lord Mountevans, a fan himself, tasked himself, Commander Campbell, member of Parliament Maurice Webb, and Olympic wrestler Norman Morell, in creating a new set of rules and laws to help legitimise professional wrestling as a respected sport in Great Britain.

This took the sport away from the “All-In” days. One of the most important changes was the introduction of weight divisions, which brought the sport closer to boxing than a circus show.

These rules, named the “Admiral-Lord Mountevans Rules” (after the man himself) did just that. The first thing they did was add some weight classes to wrestling.

They created seven different weight divisions for wrestlers to compete in. These were:

  • Lightweight (154lb Limit)
  • Welterweight (165lb Limit)
  • Middleweight (176lb Limit)
  • Heavy Middleweight (187lb Limit)
  • Light Heavyweight (198lb Limit)
  • Mid-Heavyweight (209lb Limit)
  • Heavyweight (Open Weight Division)

This made the sport seem more professional and legitimate. It looked more like a real sport, and not a human cockfight. Something needed to change to save professional wreatling in Britain.

As well as bringing weight classes in professional wrestling, the Admiral-Lord Mountevans Rules also codified the sport for the first time.

  • Standing and ground Half nelsons, quarter Nelsons, three quarter Nelsons and full Nelson.
  • Standing or the ground, front, side or reverse head chancery.
  • Waist holds.
  • Standing or ground arm up at the back, arm up at the back with elbow press, arm up at the back with bar.
  • Standing or ground wrist lever, wrist bend, arm lever or double arm lever.
  • Crotch hold.
  • Single or double leg holds, back heel, leg stroke, knee stroke, single or double leg hank.
  • Wrestler’s bridge.
  • Scissors.
  • Flying mare, ground or standing arm roll or double arm rolls.
  • Buttock, cross buttock, locked arm buttock, crossed arm buttock, locked arm backdrop.

A fall could be awarded by the following means:

  • Pinfall
  • Submission
  • Knockout – failing to answer the referee’s 10 count when thrown or knocked to the canvas or outside the ring.
  • Technical Knockout – If the opponent is ruled unfit to continue by the referee.
  • Disqualification – Declared upon a wrestler receiving the third of three “Public Warnings” given by the referee for serious or persistent offences. This was down to referee’s discretion.

Matches would typically be fought in a round format, like boxing. The standard was six three-minute rounds, with a 30-second break in between each one. Two-out-of-three falls became the standard stipulation. However, an Iron-man type stipulation was also common, with the most falls taking the prize purse.

The rules were widely adopted across the UK. 95% of promotions agreed to follow these new rules, including the newly-formed Joint Promotions in the 1950s.

The new rules led to the decision to lift the ban on wrestling in London, and promotions all over Europe adopted some form of the Mountevans rulebook. They did call it “Modern Freestyle Wrestling” in most cases, but they remained the rulebook created in 1947.

This became the standard ruleset in the UK for nearly five decades. With the cancellation of the wrestling in ITV in 1988, British wrestling soon fell out of favour, and the American “WWF” became the dominant promotion.

The American wrestling style of one-fall-to-the-finish became popular, and the classic Mountevans Style was quickly abandoned. To this day, you’ll struggle to find a match with this ruleset.

Despite that fact, its creation is still a monumental moment in British wrestling history. The new rulebook allowed wrestling to overcome the negative connotations that the All-In wrestling had brought it, and became a beloved sport across the country.

Learn more about British Wrestling History


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