June 21, 2011
SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Omer Marchessault (Masked Marvel)
REAL NAME: Omer Marchessault
AKA: Le Merveille Masquée, Masked Marvel, The Green Mask
5'8", 195 pounds
BORN: Montreal, Quebec
DIED: December 26, 1996 in Montreal
Though not necessarily a household name to all of Canada, Marchessault was a
major part of the
Montreal wrestling scene right up to his death. He turned to pro wrestling
shortly after failing to make the
1934 Canadian Olympic team for the Berlin Games. Marchessault wrestled for
14 years, mostly part-time.
The rest of the time, he worked as a firefighter, and the down-time at the
firehall provided the perfect
opportunity for him to sculpt his figure in the gym. He was in such great
shape that he was named Mr.
Canada in 1950. For a while, the fire department as uncomfortable with
Marchessault's other profession
and they wanted him to wear a mask. And so was born the Masked Marvel, a
heel to counter
Marchessault's old babyface gimmick.
"I suppose I had to wear the mask," he told a Montreal newspaper in 1989. "I was fire lieutenant in Montreal at the time and it was bad enough that I was a professional wrestler. But wrestling as a villain ... well, that was simply unacceptable."
Marchessault worked for the Montreal fire department from 1938 to 1969.
After retiring from wrestling in 1951, he took up refereeing, which he did
for 24 more years, and more
than 10,000 matches around Montreal and rural Quebec. Marchessault retired
from refereeing in 1975.
But he was back again in 1983, when he was hired by the provincial athletic
commission to be a
timekeeper at wrestling, boxing and kickboxing shows.
In September 1995, he was honored by the WWF at the final Montreal Forum
show along with Bob 'Legs' Langevin for their 60 years of service to pro wrestling in Montreal.
Marchessault died on Boxing Day 1996 after a long illness.
"I'm just considering the facts when I say that I've had one hell of a life," he said in 1989.
I never saw him wrestle but I met him twice a month for much of the '80s when he worked at WWF house shows at the
Montreal Forum (RIP) as a time keeper. I beamed with pride that retired stars (like he or Edouard Carpentier or Frenchie
Martin) could still be seen by adoring fans. Furthermore, Omer got to hold the championship belts while the wrestlers
toughed it out in the ring. On the 2nd anniversary of his passing, we salute you! Take care big guy!
Harris Black (Montreal)