They called him the "Canadian Strongman", and was destined to be a champ someday. However it ended so tragically on one cold night of 1993.
Born from Italian parents, young Adolfo trained on weights during his teenage years. He started pro wrestling in 1971 with the help of mentor (some will call him his cousin) Gino Brito, he changed his name to Dino Bravo and already was a fan favorite... He was considered one of the fastest wrestlers in the United States and Canada during the 70's.
Dino travelled a lot between Montréal and the USA to participate mostly in Grand Prix Wrestling and the WWWF. In that latter country, he was recognized as the "Canadian Strongman".
He wrestled mostly with Bruno Sammartino at one time. Then he moved to Toronto in 1979 and became Champion of MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING. When Gino Brito and Frank Valois created INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING in Montréal in 1980, they urged Bravo to come and help with the promotion. This is where he had his best years in wrestling.
He was the promotion's first Heavyweight champion when he beated Michel Dubois in a TV fight in 1981. Then he was challenged by many wrestlers, mostly by Eddy Creachman's stable of rude heels, such as Sailor White (he destroyed Bravo's robe on live TV), Gilles Poisson, Zarinoff LeBoeuf (it ended in a Russian Chain Match in Verdun in 1982...) and he course Abdullah the Butcher, with whom he had such a bloody fight in Tokyo in October 1981. Invited wrestlers also took a challenge to the champ, such as Hulk Hogan, Big John Studd, Stan Hansen, Sgt.Slaughter, the Destroyer (Dick Beyer) and the Masqued Superstar (Bill Eadie).
It was also Abdullah who made him lost his belt in 1982 when the Montréal Athletic Commission stripped his belt for unruly behavior in the ring. Then it's a long fight to regain the title from Billy Robinson until summer of 1983 when he got back the belt from the British Champ. Ricky Martel from Québec City, ally for a while with Bravo, also challenged him for the belt. Although both were babyfaces, Martel strongly believed that everyone should have the right to conquer the belt at any cost... The feud ressembled like a Montréal Canadiens-Québec Nordiques hockey game at the time. However, Bravo won both matches in these two cities against Martel...
In 1984, a young martial arts expert, King Tonga (known today as WCW's Meng), came along with his new manager Tarzan "The Boot" Tyler (he was with Floyd Creatchman, but it didn't work out). On October 9th, in Hull (Québec), Tonga pins Bravo and earns the belt. Bravo went then to Texas while Tarzan Tyler kept the former champ at the end of the line for a shot at the belt. To become a contender again, Bravo takes as manager famous boxing promoter Régis Lévesque. On Christmas 1984, a sold out show at the Forum sees Bravo and Tonga meet. Unfortunately, Bravo pins Tonga the wrong way and has to take another chance in Feburary 1985, when he regains it.
With the joint WWF-INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING shows during 1985, Dino Bravo challenged many WWF superstars. This convinced the Italian wrestler to sign for the WWF during 1986, along with the Rougeau Brothers, Rick Martel, Tom Zenk, King Tonga and Louis Laurence. This meant the end of INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING as he was one of the top box-office drawers.
In the World Wrestling Federation, Bravo has a goal to become champ. As Hulk Hogan's a babyface, Bravo became a heel during a Rougeau Brothers'match. He became arrogant, bleached his hair and took Frenchy Martin as manager. Though he was booed, he took the gimmick of promoting his Québec roots by wearing blue trunks with the Royal French Lily. However, he never beated Hogan for the belt, although his rough and tough attitude prevailed...
In 1990, Bravo returned as a babyface at the Montréal Forum, then retired from the ring. He was forgotten for a while. On a certain night of March 1993, the news announced that he was shot dead at his Laval home, near Montréal. He was suspected in dealing in the cigarette smuggling ring that flourished at the time (it originated a crisis between the Mohawk tribes, the Québec Provincial Police and the Canadian Army in 1990). Besides this sad ending, Bravo had an outstanding career in pro wrestling, as many fans can say...
Source: LUTTE.COM, Le Journal de Montréal, Les Étoiles de la Lutte, LA LUTTE magazine
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