|Lord James "Tally-Ho" Blears (1924-2016)|
To Shirlie the World's Finest Photographer ... from the World's Finest Wrestler
1955 ... Lord Jim Blears
Shirlie Montgomery loved the "sport" of wrestling. In her role as a wrestling photographer, she had some favorites ... Leo Nomelini (local SF 49ers football star turned wrestler), the Sharpe Brothers (who used to hang around with Shirlie in San Jose), Enrique Torres (she thought he was "Oh So Handsome!"), Vince Lopez (would be lover) and both Gorgeous George and Lord "Tally-Ho" Blears (she thought their showmanship was what made wrestling fun.) Well, most of the stars of wrestling from her era have passed to the great ring in the sky ... and now we have lost Jan Blears, aka Lord James Blears, aka Lord "Tally-Ho."
From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser March 8th:
James Blears, a legendary wrestling champion, local promoter and World War II survivor who was nearly killed by his Japanese captors, has died. Blears died of natural causes Thursday night at Kuakini Medical Center, his son Clinton Blears said. He was 92. “He lived a good life,” Clinton Blears said. “He always told jokes. He gave us the gift of being able to tell stories because he was a story- and a joke teller.”
Blears, a professional wrestler known as Lord “Tally-Ho” Blears, told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2001 that he would eat a can of peaches every March 29 in homage to his fellow captives who perished and to remind himself of the preciousness of life and resilience. He said he ate peaches because it was the first food sailors gave him after they plucked him from the Indian Ocean, following his escape from his Japanese captors in 1944.
Blears was a 21-year-old radio officer on a Dutch merchant ship that had been sunk by a Japanese submarine near the end of World War II. The Japanese brought aboard the survivors and were shooting or decapitating many on the foredeck. Blears said he escaped by kicking a Japanese officer and pulling his hand out of a rope, then jumping overboard.
In Hawaii, Blears was an announcer for multiple sporting competitions including the Waikiki Rough Water Swim and the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave surf contest. He was also a skilled waterman, surfer and canoe paddler. He is the father of former professional surfer Laura Blears.
Shirlie photographed Blears many times. The iconic shot of Blears nearly falling out of the ring atop Shirlie (taken by a fellow reporter from the newspaper in San Jose) in 1958 is a real classic.
The rest of these photos are from are by Shirlie from her archives, some of which are available for sale at Vintages' Sports Collectibles site.
|Blears loved to have fun with his image as an English Aristocrat turned wrestler|
|Shirlie captured his antics well|
|This "cartoon" by Shirlie is pretty cute!|
|So is this follow-on photo|
|This is a letter from Blears asking Shirlie for some copies of a photo|
Lord Blears ... RIP ... and say "Hi" to Shirlie from all of us.