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John Pulman

Name: John Pulman

DOB: December 12th, 1923

Died: December 25th, 1998

Birthplace: England

Pro Career: 1946-82

Highest Ranking: #7 (1977/8 ]

Highest Break:

Career Highlights: Seven Times World Champion, 1957 World Matchplay Champion, 1954 & 1957 News of the World Champion

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Early Career

Having first picked up a cue at the age of nine, John Pulman first made a mark on the national scene in 1946 when he became the youngest winner of the English Amateur Championship with a 5-3 victory over Albert Brown.

Following this success he elected to turn professional and a year later entered the World Championship for the first time. Unfortunately for John, this time it would be Brown who would emerge as a 21-14 winner in the first qualifying round.

Though he would go on to win matches in the tournament, reaching the semi-finals in both 1949 and 1951, he remained in the shadows of players such as Walter Donaldson and Fred Davis who at the time had a firm stranglehold on the sport. He did manage to win the News of the World Tournament in 1954 but having reached the final of the World Matchplay Championship in each of the two following years only to lose to Davis, he somehow could not quite make the big breakthrough.

World Matchplay Champion

All of that was to change in 1957 however as he was able to defeat Rex Williams and Jackie Rea in the World Matchplay to take the title as the world’s best player for the first time in his career. Unfortunately however, due to the absence of other top professionals including defending champion Fred Davis, as well as the decling interest in the sport as a whole, John did perhaps not get the acclaim that he might have expected.

Still, he could do no more than win his matches and he underlined his triumph with victory in the News of the World tournament to cement his status as the best player in the game at that time, officially at least. Following this however, he would not have the chance to defend his world title until 1964 when the World Championship was revived on a ‘challenge’ basis.

Challenge Matches

Under the Challenge system, seven one-off matches were organised between 1964-1968 in order to decide who would hold the status of World Champion as the sport looked to re-establish itself following a barren spell out of the limelight.

In the first of these, John was asked back as the last World Matchplay champion and he would face Fred Davis who had not been able to defend his 1956 title. It was a close match and though it was clear that both were not quite the players that they were a decade previously, it was Pulman who managed to come through and take a 19-16 victory. This proved to be the start of a seven match winning streak as he saw off Davis twice again, Rex Williams twice, Fred van Rensburg and Eddie Charlton to win each of the matches he contested in this format.

Knockout System and decline

By the time the tournament reverted to a knockout format in 1969 however, John was into his mid-40’s and with the likes of John Spencer and Ray Reardon starting to come through, began to find it tough to stay at the top. Indeed in that first year of what is now regarded as the modern era, Pulman saw his title defence come to an end in the first round as eventual champion John Spencer took a 25-18 victory.

The following year saw him reach the final for what would be the last time but his defeat to Ray Reardon would signal something of a changing of the guard as Ray took what would be the first of six world titles.

After this he continued to compete but apart from a run to the semi-finals at the Crucible in 1977 where he was again defeated by Spencer, enjoyed little success and following an accident with a bus which left him with a broken leg in 1982, he hung up his cue for good.

Tournament Victories:

Major Events (10)

Event Year
World Championship 1964×2, 1965×3, 1966, 1968
World Matchplay 1957
News of the World Championship 1954, 1957