Vachon to be feted in Winnipeg
By DOUG LUNNEY, Winnipeg Sun
Maurice (Mad Dog) Vachon clearly remembers the day he almost died in a wrestling match.
It was in Minneapolis in the early 1970s, the Dog recalled in a recent telephone interview from his home in Iowa. Vachon was attacked outside the ring by The Crusher, who split Vachon's forehead for 22 stitches by slamming it into the sharp edge of a steel table.
"The blood was spraying out of me like a sprinkler hose," said Vachon, 72.
"Everybody at ringside was splattered in blood. By the time they took me to the hospital, I was almost out of blood.
"The doctor told me I was lucky. He said an athlete has one unit more than the average person. I didn't know that."
It was just one of more than 13,000 matches in Vachon's illustrious career, which began as an amateur and spanned 44 years. A world champion and fan favourite during his American Wrestling Alliance days, Vachon will be honoured on Jan. 30 at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre.
The wrestling card is promoted by 92 CITI FM radio host Joe Aiello, along with Tony Condello and Don Callis.
"I'm more of an old-school guy, growing up with the AWA, and I thought it would be great to bring in someone like Vachon," Aiello said. "There was no one more colourful than him."
Vachon represented Canada in the 1948 Olympics in London, following it with a gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games.
He looks forward to coming back to Winnipeg, having lived in St. Boniface for a couple of years in the early 1980s. Some of his finest matches were here against Vern Gagne and The Crusher, whom he ran into at a hockey game in Milwaukee two years ago.
"He's about 77," Vachon said. "He had triple bypass surgery, two knees replaced, a hip replaced and he can still bench press 350.
"He tells everybody he made Milwaukee famous. I say 'Yeah, by pounding on me.' "
Vachon was dubbed the Mad Dog by promoter Don Owens, who lured him to Portland, Ore., in the early 1960s. In his first match there, Vachon attacked his opponent before the bell, slammed the ring announcer and knocked a police officer off his feet.
"Owens, who had a high voice, came in after and said 'You looked just like a mad dog!' And I thought, hey, that sounds pretty good."
Tickets are available at Jabronis Hard Core Wrestling Store inside Pictures Frames and More on Marjorie Street.
Tickets for the Mad Dog Vachon tribute show, which features Terry
, Dr. Luther, Cyrus
, are available at
Jabroni's Hardcore Wrestling Store in Winnipeg.