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  Mon, Jan 20, 2003



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Pro wrestler Ed (The Sheik) Farhat, who fans loved to hate, dies at age 76

SLAM! Wrestling Photo gallery: SHEIK  DETROIT (AP) -- The Sheik is dead.

 Professional wrestling villain Edward (The Sheik) Farhat pioneered the "hardcore" school that dominates the field today, and generations of fans loved to hate him.

 He died Saturday in Williamston near Lansing at age 76 of heart failure, said his son, Edward Farhat Jr.

 "Perhaps no other wrestler is more responsible for influencing the current generation of 'hardcore' wrestling than the one and only Arabian madman known as The Sheik," Steve Slagle wrote in The Ring Chronicle.

 The story behind The Sheik was that he was from a wealthy, aristocratic Middle Eastern family. His costume included a kaffiyeh Arabic head covering and his trademark dirty fighting style included carrying a jagged piece of wood with which to "secretly" cut his rivals.

 "Universally hated by wrestling fans, The Sheik was nevertheless a top ratings and box office draw for promoters of the day," Slagle wrote. "His bloody, emotional battles with Bobo Brazil, Buddy Rogers, Antonio Rocca, Johnny Valentine and Harley Race were the stuff of legends, not to mention box office gold."

 Farhat was born in Lansing, Mich., one of 10 children of Lebanese immigrants.

 After concealing his age of 17 to join the Army during the Second World War, Farhat was recruited by pro wrestling promoter Burt Ruby in Detroit in 1950.

 "There was a wrestling school, and he went two or three times a week," his son said. "He was just a natural."

 In the 1960s and '70s, he was a star of the Big Time Wrestling circuit. Farhat also became an owner of Big Time Wrestling, the Michiagn franchise of the National Wrestling Alliance.

 "He was as much of a star as Hulk Hogan or any of the guys today," said Edward Farhat Jr.

 The character of The Sheik was deeply embedded in his personality, on or off the mat, his son said.

 "His grandkids called him Grandpa Sheik," he said. "There will never, ever, be another one like him."

 Farhat is survived by wife Joyce, sister Eva Brunk, brother Moses Farhat, sons Edward and Thomas, and four grandchildren.

More on The Sheik




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