Shirley Crabtree, Jr, better known as Big Daddy (14 November 1930 - 2 December 1997) was a British professional wrestler famous for his record-breaking 64 inch chest ( which was at one point listed in the Guiness book of Records ). Known for wearing his various Big Daddy leotards, Crabtree's original one was emblazoned with just a large "D" and was fashioned by his wife Eunice from their chintz sofa.
Crabtree, was a Rugby League player before deciding to follow in his father's footsteps, and become a professional wrestler. He became a big hit in the late 1950s and early 1960s with heel gimmicks, calling himself The Blonde Adonis, Mr. Universe and The Battling Guardsman. Crabtree won two titles in the British Wrestling Federation before he quit out of frustration and retired for roughly 15 years.
Based originally on the character of the same name played by actor Burl Ives in the 1958 screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy was first given life by Crabtree in the later 1970s, initially playing the bad guy. On 24 April 1976, he teamed up with Giant Haystacks, vs Steve Veidor and Tibor Szakacs (the good guys), for a tag team bout, but laterly played the good guy. A firm fan favorite, Big Daddy came to the ring in his signature Union Flag jacket and top hat to a theme tune in the form of "We Shall Not Be Moved" by The Seekers, in 1980 Shirley Crabtree recorded his own version on EMI Records backed by rock guitarist Legendary Lonnie. As Big Daddy, Crabtree would often team with many rising stars within the country including Sammy Lee ( the original Tiger Mask - Satoru Sayama ), Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and Steven ( William ) Regal.
Let me go on record here, for the first time and say "I am a fan". There's a lot of nay-sayers who credit Big Daddy for the downfall of UK wrestling, and many who put his look and lack of ability as the reason that it was dropped from tv. But you know what, in watching his matches back even now, they are fun. Sure, they are generally more "sports entertainment" than wrestling... but the crowd eats them up each and every time. Every guy at the top has people trying to drag him down, but as a fan... I can say there will only ever be one BIG DADDY!