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Thread: Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon R.I.P.

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    Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon R.I.P.



    Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon, one of the greatest heels of all-time and a former Canadian Olympic wrestler, passed away this morning at 4 a.m. in Omaha, Nebraska. He was 84 years of age.

    He had been in poor health for many years, much of it stemming from a 1987 hit-and-run accident, where Vachon was struck by a driver, which resulted in the amputation of his leg. Most recently, he battled memory issues.

    Mad Dog's brother and long-time tag team partner, Paul "The Butcher" Vachon, confirmed the death.

    "This is not a pleasure call," said Paul Vachon. "I just wanted to call and let you know first that my brother Mad Dog passed away this morning."

    "It was very peaceful," said Maurice's wife, Kathie, of his passing. She will know more about funeral arrangements later this afternoon; she expects the funeral to take place early next week in Nebraska.

    With his wild, unpredictable style in the ring, growling voice, and wrestling skills to back up the barking, Mad Dog Vachon went from an Olympic wrestler, representing Canada at the 1948 Games in London, to one of the most hated -- and beloved -- professional wrestlers ever. He held countless championships, including the prestigious AWA World title, based out of Minneapolis.

    During his farewell tour of Quebec in 1986, Maurice 'Mad Dog' Vachon made the remarkable transformation from despised wrestler to beloved popular icon. Just as he was hanging up his boots for the last time, doors were finally opening for him. Interviews both in print and on the air praised his contribution to society. He was hired to hawk beer and chocolate bars. He wrote his autobiography and made a rap album in French. And most bizarrely, the veteran of more than 16,000 bouts over almost 40 years was tapped to be a restaurant reviewer.

    The words 'Canadian icon' have rarely suited a better man. The love that the public had for him became even more apparent a year after his retirement when he was struck by a car while walking with his third wife Kathie in Des Moines, Iowa. Vachon had his right leg amputated below the knee. The story was carried by media across Canada, and he was flooded by letters from well-wishers.

    The tale of Maurice Vachon is amazing enough if one were to leave out his accession into mainstream culture. Born in Ville Emard, a working class section of Montreal, in 1929, Vachon was the second oldest of 13 children. His father was a strongman who worked for the local police force. Teased about his name — 'Vachon le cochon' — Maurice got into many scraps as a youth. At 12, his father started him training at amateur wrestling at the Montreal YMCA. He dropped out of school at 13 to work various jobs, and pursue his athletic endeavours.

    Encouraged by his father, Maurice took to wrestling quickly and made the Canadian Olympic team for the 1948 London Games. "When you walk into the Stadium at Wembley in London, there's probably 6,000 athletes there, King George XI is there, the Queen, and they play your national anthem -- it gives you goosepimples," Vachon said. The Montrealer competed at 174 pounds and finished in seventh place, eliminated in the third round. Besides the competition, it is worth noting that Vachon met future pro opponents Verne Gagne and Joe Scarpello at the Games.

    Undeterred by his Olympic defeat, Vachon rebounded in 1950 to claim at the British Empire Games (the forerunner of the Commonwealth Games) in New Zealand. "When you wrestle professional, the money goes in your pocket," Vachon said. "When you wrestle amateur, the medals, they go in your heart."

    Growing up, Vachon had always been a fan of the pro game and upon his return to Canada, he wrestled a bit around Montreal before heading to Northern Ontario for the Kasaboskis, which was a summer territory. The 5-foot-8, 240-pound Vachon was a hit and other opportunities came along.

    "Mad Dog had an instant reputation when he started wrestling professional because he had been a bouncer in a Montreal nightclub, he'd never lost a streetfight. He loved to fight," said his brother Paul Vachon.
    He was in Hawaii when he first met Portland promoter Don Owen, who invited Vachon to come to his territory. Vachon attacked his opponent, the referee and a ringside police officer before the bell in his Pacific Northwest debut and was disqualified, fined and suspended. Owen told him that he looked like a mad dog, and the name stuck, as did Owen's decision to bill Vachon from Algeria.

    An indication of Vachon's importance:
    - He received the Iron Mike Mazurki Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2003, the top award in professional wrestling
    - He is a member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY (Class of 2004)
    - He is a member of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa (Class of 2003)
    - He is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2010)
    - He entered the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame (Class of 2009)
    - He was on the Canadian Olympic team in 1948 at the Games in London, England - He won a the gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games in New Zealand - He is a member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996) - In The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels, Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson ranked him the fourth greatest bad guy in the history of professional wrestling
    - In The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians, author Greg Oliver ranked Vachon the fourth greatest Canadian pro wrestler ever
    - In The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams, also written by Oliver and Johnson, the team of Butcher and Mad Dog are ranked in the Top 25

    In 1999, Vachon was the subject of an hour-long documentary on The Comedy Network called Wrestling With The Past where he told road stories and hammed to the camera. His 1988 autobiography, Une vie de chien dans un monde de fous means The Life of a Dog in a World of Crazies.



    Maurce "Mad Dog" Vachon dead at 84

    I'll always remember what he said during an on-air interview in the late 70's/early 80's after a match: "Nobody hurts the Mad Dog and gets away with it!"

  2. #2
    Wow, Mad Dog Vachon...I remember watching him as a kid biting wrestlers, slamming chairs on their heads and blood oozing out of his forehead. What a tough and mean wrestler. Other wrestlers of that time that I'm just remembering were Killer Kowalski, Andre the Giant and the Hollywood Blondes. "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end..." as he song goes. R.I.P.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by strings View Post
    ...Killer Kowalski, Andre the Giant and the Hollywood Blondes.
    I met 'Andre the Giant' back in the early 70's when he was still known as Le Geant Jean Ferre. He was very gracious and was happy to allow me to have my picture taken with him.

    I also remember Vladek "Killer" Kowalski. After his retirement as a wrestler friends called him Walter Kowalski. I mostly remembered him when he started wearing a mask when he wrestled. He'd refer to his mask as being the 'fountain of youth'. In later years he ran a very popular pro wrestling school.

    The Hollywood Blonds. I remember them well, having seen them wrestle in person once or twice. I believe their manager was named Sir Oliver Humperdink, if i remember correctly.

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    Repose en paix Maurice Mad Dog.

    En fait, quand j'étais petit, les soirées de lutte à la télévision était un show que toute la famille regardait religieusement...

    Je me rappelle entre autre:
    - Mad Dog et Paul Vachon
    - Gilles Poisson
    - Dino Bravo
    - Gino Brito
    - Edouard Carpentier
    - Les Fifis d'Hollywood (Hollywood Blonds)
    - Le fameux Manager des méchants Eddie "The Brain" Creatchman qui faisant un bon show!
    - Géant Jean Ferré.
    - Tarzan "La Bottine" Tyler
    - Les Frères Rougeau
    - Paul Leduc

    Etc...

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    I believe the wrestler pictured & identified as being "Jesse the body Ventura" is actually "Big John Stud".

    On another note, does anyone remember the names of the referee & the ring announcer back in the glory days of professional wrestling in the early to mid 70's? They were very prominent on the Saturday afternoon tv show called "Grand Prix Wrestling".

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    I believe the wrestler pictured & identified as being "Jesse the body Ventura" is actually "Big John Stud".
    No, that is Jesse. However the wrestler identified as Davey Boy Smith is actually Tom Billington, aka Dynamite Kid (the OTHER British Bulldog).

    Also I think in the picture with Snuka it's a very young Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.

  7. #7
    Nice pics John brought back alot of memories growing up thanks for the share

  8. #8
    You're right Doc, he was called Giant Jean Ferre. And thanks Unclebob for that list of wrestlers, I had forgotten all those names but it comes back to me now.

  9. #9
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    Back in the early to mid 70's, my folks had brought me to a local wrestling card. On that card were the likes of the great Edouard Carpentier (my favorite wrestler ever!), le geant Jean Ferre, Tarzan "The Boot" Tyler, Jacques Rougeau Sr., and others.

    About an hour after the wrestling event, we were invited to a friend's house for a get-together. That particular friend also happened to be good friends with the card's promoter. When we arrived, the lady of the house happened to be cooking dinner. We were surprised at hearing that some 'guests' were on their way over & hadn't had dinner yet, even though it was somewhat late in the evening. Suddenly, we heard a knock on the door & guess who walked in? The promoter (he was one of the Kasabowski brothers), Edouard Carpentier, his nephew Jackie Wiecz, Tarzan Tyler, Yvon Robert Jr., and a couple of others, whose names i have since forgot. And much to my great shock, they seemed to all be buddies & the so-called 'heels' like Tyler turned out to be great, funny guys!!! I was saddened to hear that a few years later, Tarzan Tyler (Camille Tourville) was killed in an automobile accident in the Laurentians, along with referree Adrien Des Bois and Pierre "Mad Dog" Lefebvre They were returning home from a wrestling card on Christmas Eve 1985.

    I was about 10 or 11 at the time, and it was that evening that i was hit with a dose of reality and realized that pro wrestling was all show and the outcomes pre-determined. But what a memorable evening it was!

    p.s. I've met quite a few wrestlers on a personal level over my lifetime, and the nicest/kindest one i've ever met was "Gentleman" Jim Kelly, who was popular back in the early 70's. The biggest asshole i've ever met, and he was worse in person than in the ring, was "Bull" Gregory. What a dick!!! He was actually a french-canadian & his pro wrestling career ended when he was caught in grand theft auto sting. I still remember seeing his picture & reading about the bust in Le Montreal Matin. Another very nice wrestler that i met was Jos Leduc, who wrestled with his brother Paul as The Leduc Brothers tag team. Jos' wife was an elementary school teacher, if i remember correctly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    does anyone remember the names of the referee & the ring announcer back in the glory days of professional wrestling in the early to mid 70's? They were very prominent on the Saturday afternoon tv show called "Grand Prix Wrestling".
    Since no one has come up with the answer, here it is:

    referee: Luigi Massera
    ring announcer: Fernand Ste-Marie

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    The good ol' days of wrestling


  12. #12
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    Who could ever forget the Mad Dog?


  13. #13
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    Mad Dog had become a crowd favorite in his later years.....

    Mad Dog Vachon vs. Nick Bockwinkle

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    Mad Dog Vachon & Vern Gagne VS. Adrian Adonis & Jesse "The Body" Ventura

    Mad Dog & Vern Gagne vs. Adonis & Ventura

  15. #15
    What a site Merb,ca is becoming: sex, news(check out the new Bill 60.2), and entertainment(old-time wrestling). And is that Lucien Bouchard on the wrestling card???? Hey Doc., i'm reverting back to childhood.LOL.

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