In the late 1930s, New Zealand mat fans had hopes of seeing world champion Bronko Nagurski in a title match in New Zealand against their own champion Lofty Blomfield.
Nagurski, it is understood, had agreed to come to New Zealand for the largest guarantee ever offered a boxer or wrestler in the Southern Hemisphere Plans had already been made to stage the match which it was believed would attract more than 40,000 spectators.
The Dominion of New Zealand Wrestling Union, through Walter Miller, had been in negotiation with Nagurski and his backers – Toots Mondt, Lou Daro and Tony Stecher – and plans were on the verge of completion. However, at the last minute, the mighty Nagurski had a change of plans and decided not to make the trip.
Perhaps Nagurski knew he was going to have a real battle whether he met Blomfield. Dean Detton or Ray Steele in New Zealand. Naturally, New Zealanders were hoping Blomfield would have been Nagurski s opponent, but Lofty would have had to earn the right for this title match by beating the likes of Detton, Steele and Vincent Lopez.
Desperate for a title shot, Blomfield travelled to Canada – Vancouver, British Colombia, to be exact – and on March 17, 1939, got a crack at Nagurski and the championship.
The following report of Blomfield's title quest appeared in the March 18th edition of the Vancouver Sun:
Lofty Blomfield, the gent from New Zealand, didn't exactly lift Bronko Naguraki's world crown before a packed house at the Auditorium last evening. But he did take a pretty hefty swipe at it, and his buddies from Down Under need, in no way, be ashamed of their champion.
For eight rounds last night, well on into the midnight hour, Nagurski and Blomfield put on one of the most entertaining matches seen here in a good many months.
When it was over they were no further ahead than when they started. It was a draw, with each man having taken a well-earned fall.
The two fellows, powerfully built and remarkably agile for their great size, sparred about displaying a variation of wrestling holds that kept the crowd well on their seats through the entire bout. It was straight squirming but the kind the customers liked.
Nagurski, the champion, had the edge through the early going and by the time the third round came around he had worked Blomfield into a spot. A couple of well-timed tackles, the kind Nagurski is reputed to dish out with great abandon on the professional gridirons of America, tossed the New Zealander for a loss.
In a groggy state, Blomfield got up off the mat only to walk into the powerful arms of Nagurski. The latter lifted his man with ease and slapped him to the matting several times before falling on him.
Stanley Myslasak, a squirmer of note in his own right, did the refereeing in the main bout last night and turned in a finished performance. He lost little time in beating out the three seconds in the third round as Nagurski pressed the New Zealander's shoulders.
With five more rounds to go, Blomfield quickly revived in his corner, came out with a greater determination and put the champion through many an anxious moment for the remainder of the bout.
During the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, Blomfield harassed Mr. Nagurski very definitely with his famed octopus clamp. Numerous times he very nearly had the champion's legs tied up in tight little knots.
Turning on more heat in the eighth round, Blomfield went after Nagurski over every inch of the mat. He braved all the elbow jolts Nagurski threw in defence.
Finally, he succeeded in going behind the champion and slapped on the octopus clamp. Tying the champion's legs well and true, the New Zealander applied all the pressure he could and just before the bell sounded the end of the match, the champion yelled for mercy and conceded the tying fall.
It was a highly entertaining match to top off a first-class card presented by promoter Percy Hicks.
This was certainly the outstanding highlight of the great New Zealander's career.
In later years, Blomfield chased Jim Londos for a title shot in New Zealand but it was impossible to attract Londos here. When Londos eventually did – wrestle in New Zealand he was past 60 years of age.
Lofty Blomfield died a few years ago but he is not forgotten here and overseas. He met a host of American and Canadian wrestlers in New Zealand during his 20-year reign.
The late Lofty Blomfield achieved the rank of sergent while serving in the military in 1940
Bronko Nagurski, both a grappling and gridiron great, had his hands full in his Vancouver, B.C., bout with Lofty Blomfleld.
Lofty Bloomfeld demonstrates his famous 'octopus clamp' hold which spelled defeat for many of his mat rivals.