“Whipper” was a top-notch professional wrestler and a former NWA World Heavyweight
Champion. Billy Watson was a legend in Ontario and throughout the world. Professional
wrestling was first introduced to Watson as a career choice by his brother, George.
Interested in the mat game, he ventered into the basement of Toronto’s All Hallows
Church and met a talented instructor by the name of Phil Lawson. Under Lawson’s
tutalage, Watson made his professional debut in 1935. Lawson became Billy’s manager
and he competed under his real name, “William Potts.”
Potts toured England in 1936 and while overseas he changed his name to “Watson.”
He returned to Toronto, where he quickly became a star. On February 21, 1947 at the
Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Watson received a shot at the National Wrestling Association
World Heavyweight Title. The bout was scheduled by promoter Tom Packs to be only
one-fall with more then 8,500 fans in attendance. The defending champion at the time
was Bill Longson, a hated champion, known for his cruelty. He should have known
better. Longson punched referee, Charley Schwartz at the 18:36 mark and was
disqualified for his actions. Watson was awarded the NWA World Championship.
Watson lost to Lou Thesz in St. Louis on April 25th after 25-minutes and 41 seconds.
The World Title changed hands. 10,462 fans were in attendance. Nine years went by
before Watson captured his second “NWA” World Title. This time, though, it was the
National Wrestling Alliance version. On March 15, 1956, Watson won by countout over
Thesz with Jack Dempsey standing in the ring making the count. He lost the title to Thesz
on November 9th in St. Louis.
Watson wrestled in more than 2,500 matches and hit that numeral at age 42, probably
in 1959 or 1960. He had suffered many serious injuries throughout his battles in the
squared circle. He was forced to retire from wrestling in 1971 after nearly severing his
left leg in a car accident on November 30th.
Mr. Watson died of a heart attack on February 4, 1990 in Orlando. Mr. Watson was 74
years of age. The WWF gave him a special 10-bell salute on a WWF Card at Maple Leaf
Gardens to pay tribute to the man. The newspapers in Toronto devoted several articles
on his life both in the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Globe and Mail. Hundreds of fans
mourned him upon his burial.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|"Whipper" Billy Watson Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling