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  May 19, 1999



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Mad Dog Vachon a real pussycat
By RICK CONRAD -- Halifax Herald
More than a decade after he stopped wrestling, Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon still has his bite.

"If you deviate and say one bad word from the Mad Dog, I'll break every bone in your body," Vachon says in his distinctive, Quebecois-inflected Mad Dog rasp before breaking into a laugh on the phone from Toronto.

The 69-year-old former professional wrestler is at the back end of a day of interviews for the special, Wrestling with the Past, on the Comedy Network tonight at 10 p.m. Atlantic.

The hour-long show - written, produced and directed by John Dolin - is a funny look at Mad Dog's life in, out of and after the ring.

"It's just scratching the surface, but some of it is hilarious," Vachon says.

"I think it's funny. And I hope people get a laugh out of it. That's what it's for, you know."

Featuring interviews with such former wrestling greats as Gene Kiniski, Killer Kowalski, Baron Von Raschke and The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer, Wrestling with the Past takes a lighthearted look at the five-foot-seven-inch pug from Montreal who made a big name for himself in 44 years in the square circle.

He enjoyed the most success in the '60s and '70s, becoming champion (world, international, Grand Prix, tag team) about 25 times and getting quite wealthy in the process.

"We used to make big money for the average person," says Vachon, a Canadian Olympian and gold medallist in amateur wrestling at the 1950 British Empire Games.

While pro wrestling today is a multi-million dollar enterprise with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation and Ted Turner's World Champion Wrestling cornering the market, the Mad Dog concedes that sometimes even he can't watch it.

"It's become so bad," says the father of six.

"It's not only the good guy versus the bad guy, or the violence, but now it's getting pornographic, sex and girls in there with the G-string and guys getting on top of the girl . . . and one guy's running after another guy with a revolver.

"That's not good for our children."

And even though Vachon's career as a wrestler is anything but lily white (he got the Mad Dog moniker after starting a riot before a match in Trois Rivieres), he's not the rough and reviled villain he's taken a whole career to cultivate.

It's clear from the documentary and from the interview that he's a softie at heart.

"I did everything I could to make the people hate me and I failed miserably," Vachon says.

"That's now, you know. Then, they tried to kill you. And a lot of times they came close to doing it."

His brother and sometime tag-team partner, Paul "The Butcher" Vachon, has a long scar under his beard as proof of that.

"Paul's got a scar across his throat," Mad Dog explains.

"An old guy in San Diego, he got a pocket knife and cut his neck."

The old dog's also got a few scars from his life in and out of the ring.

After about 13,000 career matches, his forehead looks like the London underground system, he's missing teeth, "my arms don't open, they don't close. All my fingers have been broken."

He also lost a leg when he was the victim of a 1987 hit-and-run and went through three marriages.

Looking back on it all, however, Vachon, still sporting his familiar black beard and moustache, says he has no regrets.

"I was free to come and go whenever I pleased. I went everywhere on Earth almost. I saw sooo many people. And I became successful. I was world champion."

More on Mad Dog Vachon




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