Meynell (Lofty)BLOMFIELD

Meynell Strathmore “Lofty” Blomfield (aka Walter Browning), was one of New Zealand’s sporting personalities of the 1930s. A former Poverty Bay rugby representative, associated with the Celtic Club and winner of the Barry Cup against Wairoa, Blomfield was a wrestler who achieved notable success both as an amateur and a professional.

While a Police Constable based in Auckland, he became a member of the local Wrestling Association, winning the New Zealand Amateur Heavyweight title in 1931 and becoming famous for creating a wrestling hold which became known as the “Octopus Clamp”. During the Great War, Blomfield went to the Middle East as a physical training instructor, but was sent home on account of varicose veins. Blomfield retired from all wrestling in 1949 after 20 years in the ring (at the age of 43), to become Manager of the Whangarei Hotel. In 1950, he famously rescued a crippled woman (Mrs C S Stevens), from a burning farmhouse at Maungatapere.

The New Zealand Wrestling Association was established in 1905, with a membership of 50. By 1926, the Association had increased to 60 members, with 85 members by the end of that decade. In the 1930’s it was reported that “amateur wrestling clubs are springing up like mushrooms all over the Dominion”, with the "New Zealand Amateur Wrestling Championships" becoming a highlight of the national sporting calendar. However, increasing professionalism of bouts created an increasing rift between the sports’ commercial and community promoters and resulted in diminishing amateur participation.

From its heyday last century, today the sports’ governing body the New Zealand Olympic Wrestling Union (formed in 1965), lists fewer than 20 clubs affiliated clubs around New Zealand, with the sport now completely absent in some of its former provincial strongholds.

Picture: "Lofty" Blomfield, New Zealand Amateur Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.