Max Crabtree
Birth nameMax Gerald Crabtree
Born1933 (age 88–89)
Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Professional wrestling career

Max Gerald Crabtree (born 1933) is an English retired professional wrestler and promoter, known for working alongside his brother Shirley Crabtree, better known as Big Daddy.[1][2]


Crabtree got into wrestling after completing his National Service along with his brothers Shirley and Brian.[3] After an injury in a match to Brian and Shirley retiring, Crabtree moved into booking. Initially he booked independently for 20th Century Promotions and worked on bringing in foreign talent to wrestle in the UK, such as Sammy Lee (who later wrestled as Tiger Mask) after a recommendation from Karl Gotch.[3] He was due to join Jackie Pallo and Johnny Dale to set up a rival wrestling organisation to Joint Promotions. However, Dale died and Crabtree was headhunted to join Joint Promotions as he was the most experienced booker in the UK at the time.[4]

During the 1970s, Max was appointed Northern area booker with Joint Promotions, where he is credited for bringing Shirley out of retirement and inventing the Big Daddy persona and gimmick for his brother.[5] Crabtree helped to promote a number of wrestlers including Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, William Regal and George Kidd.[6][7][8] He spent forty years as a wrestling promoter.[9] He was highly regarded in the British wrestling industry for his booking skills.[10]

Crabtree came under criticism for building Joint Promotions around Big Daddy, leading to allegations of nepotism.[11] He offered £5 bonuses to those who would be prepared to wrestle Big Daddy. This came to light following the death of King Kong Kirk in the ring after a match with Big Daddy (though the subsequent autopsy found for a death from natural causes and cleared the Crabtrees of any wrongdoing).[12] ITV removed wrestling from television in 1988. Crabtree criticised American wrestling such as the World Wrestling Federation calling it "over the top and a load of ballyhoo".[9]

Crabtree continued to promote wrestling under the banner Ring Wrestling Stars from 1991 until his retirement in February 1995. Big Daddy continued to headline his shows until his own retirement in December 1993, thereafter Max Crabtree employed Davey Boy Smith in a similar headline role for several months in 1994.

Personal life

As well as Shirley Crabtree, Max was also the brother of referee and MC Brian Crabtree. in the 1960s, Max and Brian were themselves wrestlers in the middleweight and lightweight divisions respectively. His nephew Eorl Crabtree is a retired professional rugby league player.[9]


  1. ^ "Max Crabtree". IMDb. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  2. ^ "British Wrestlers Reunion". British Wrestlers Reunion. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Garfield, Simon (2013). "5". The Wrestling. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571265459.
  4. ^ Lister, John (2005). Slamthology: Collected Wrestling Writings 1991-2004. William Wood & Company. pp. 228–229. ISBN 9781905290109.
  5. ^ "Big Daddy". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 December 1997. Retrieved 19 December 2020 – via required)
  6. ^ "WWE Legend Dynamite Kid, Thomas Billington, Dies on His 60th Birthday". Movieweb. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Calls for iconic Dundee wrestler George Kidd to be immortalised in bronze". Evening Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  8. ^ WWE (2020). WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment (4th ed.). Dorling Kindersley. p. 182. ISBN 978-0241488065.
  9. ^ a b c "Wrestling hits Huddersfield but it's not as we remember it". Yorkshire Live. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  10. ^ Meltzer, Dave. "Wrestling Observer Newsletter" (July 2004 ed.). p. 16. ISSN 1083-9593. ((cite magazine)): Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  11. ^ "The Field and the Stage" (PDF). University of Sussex. p. 186. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  12. ^ Hart, Bret (2009). Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. Random House. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-4070-2931-3.