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Muir, Alan Holmes (Bonnie) (1907–1977)

by John Rickard

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Alan Holmes (Bonnie) Muir (1907-1977), wrestler, was born on 28 November 1907 at Jolimont, Melbourne, son of Victorian-born parents Edwin Holmes Muir, dentist, and his wife Alice May, née Horan. Educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School (1915-25), he played for three years in the first XI, and was a prefect in his final year. 'Bonnie' (a nickname he had acquired as a baby) was 'one of those kids who didn't know what to do with himself'. He took a job in the accounts department of J. C. Williamson Ltd. Having boxed at school, he was encouraged to take up amateur wrestling by a visiting American grappler, Mike Yokel, who was impressed by the young man's 6 ft 1½ ins (187 cm) muscular physique. Muir soon showed promise, winning the Victorian amateur heavyweight championship (1929 and 1930) and being runner-up for the Australian championship (1930). He also worked out with some visiting American professionals brought to Australia by John Wren. After Muir was thrown out of work in 1930, Ed 'Strangler' Lewis suggested that he might make a career as a wrestler.

Muir travelled to the United States of America to learn his craft. For his initial bout, at Seattle in October 1930, he received $40 and the first of his cauliflower ears. When he was back in Australia in 1932-33, the journalist Norman McCance commented on the 'remarkable progress' he had made, and noted that he had 'developed . . . clean-limbed, supple strength and vigorous aggression'. Leaving Australia again, Muir wrestled his way through Europe before—more adventurously—trying his luck in North Africa. At Casablanca, Morocco, he fell ill; having lost much weight, he spent two years out of the business, living in Paris.

In October 1939 Muir was welcomed back at West Melbourne stadium. At the office of the government statist, Queen Street, on 13 December that year he married Moyra Geraldine Hayes Marco, a 30-year-old divorcee. He lost a bout with Chief Little Wolf in June 1940 but 'gave a display of wrestling that for all-round effectiveness has not been surpassed by any visitor in recent years'. Enlisting in the Militia on 9 October, he rose to captain, Australian Imperial Force, as an instructor in physical training and unarmed combat. His appointment terminated in April 1945. Muir returned to the ring, but by 1950 had given up wrestling to officiate as a referee. He worked for the National Fitness Council and Percy Pearce's gymnasium before managing the Oasis gymnasium. By this time he was something of a Melbourne identity.

A capable wrestler, Muir had acquired the skills of a performer, necessary in a profession that had been transformed into an entertainment. Characteristically, he was always 'the good guy' in the ring, never making the transition to a 'heel', as did so many older wrestlers. In 1973 he expressed his distaste for the further changes wrought by television. The vulgarity of the televised spectacle offended him: while the sport of his day had involved much 'acting', its exponents were technically skilled as wrestlers. A genuine enthusiast for wrestling, Muir saw it as a natural sport, unlike boxing.

Outside the ring, Bonnie was quiet and gentle in manner, well spoken, fluent in French, a reader and conversationalist, with friends from diverse backgrounds. He died of cancer on 12 June 1977 at Hawthorn East and was cremated; his wife, son and stepson survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Liber Melburniensis (Melb, 1965)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 31 Oct 1932, 23 Oct 1939, 3 June, 13 July 1940
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 14 June 1977
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

John Rickard, 'Muir, Alan Holmes (Bonnie) (1907–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/muir-alan-holmes-bonnie-11193/text19951, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 17 October 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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