Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon
Biography by Claude "The Duke" Leduc
Pacific Northwest promoter Don Owen gave the right nickname to a wrestler whose first mission was brawling until the opponent said "Uncle". That was Maurice Vachon's main motto.
Born days before the financial crash of 1929, Young Maurice was raised in the district of Ville Émard, southwest of Montréal, a mainly industrial burg. His father was a policeman and said one day to one of his friends that his son will become an important man. As a kid, Maurice was such a prankster. He attended at a young age many wrestling shows and , of course, champion wrestler Yvon Robert was his idol. However, he didn't like school so much, so at age 14, he wanted to be a wrestler and started to take courses at the Montreal's downtown YMCA.
Under the rule of Chief Jim Cowley, he learned that to beat a wrestler doesn't mean to be stronger than your opponent, but to be smarter. Vachon took this advice and used his small height (he's 5 foot 4) and his wits to beat his opponents. He was chosen to represent Canada at the 1948 Olympics. The Turkish opponent who beated him at the time (by points, not by pinning) said that he never had such a hard time to beat a tough opponent like Vachon. Two years later, he went to the British Empire Games held in Auckland, New Zealand. This time, he won the Gold Medal...
A short while after, Vachon took several jobs as doorman at the posh night clubs that flourished in Montréal in the fifties. A friend, who heard about the several fights he seldom had with rowdy patrons, rather encouraged him to go into pro wrestling. Vachon took the advice and started his career with a bout at the Montreal Forum in 1954. However, promoter Eddy Quinn was shy of using Vachon with its exceptionnal wrestling qualities, because he feared at the time he might detroned his champ Yvon Robert who was top grossing wrestling attraction.
Vachon took his act on the road and became a tough heel in the north Saguenay region. To draw crowds in the local arenas, he bought TV time each Thursday night before the evening news. He explained in a rowdy way how he will beat his opponent on the Saturday night gala. With this kind of promotion, Vachon revolutionized the sport and later the wrestling declaration was successfully used in Québec by wrestlers like Jacques Rougeau Jr and managers like the infamous Eddy "the Brain" Creatchman. And this bravado declaration worked: there were full houses each time in Jonquière and Chicoutimi, but of course, Vachon was the booed man, along with his brother Paul, which also started his career at that time...Sometimes, Vachon went so much overboard that he needed police escort to take him out of the venues where he wrestled, fearing that the mob crowd might lynch him...
Maurice Vachon started wrestling with a clean cut hairdo and a tough guy face. He always gave a hard time to his opponents, mainly Johnny Rougeau and Larry Moquin in Montréal, Tarzan Babin in Trois-Rivières, Crusher Risowski in Chicago, the Destroyer in Los Angeles, and many others. At a certain point, he shaved his hair to look like an Algerian. Don Owen, the Northwest promoter, finally gave the name Mad Dog when Vachon went overboard at a gala in Portland, Oregon, and then received a blame from Owens that "he acted like such a Mad Dog". The name stayed on...
In 1964, Vachon was crowned AWA champion under the promotion of Verne Gagné- Then he travelled around the world, bringing his "Mad Dog" gimmick to crowded arenas. Without a doubt, Vachon was maybe a precursor to the many HardCore brawlers of today... He got married twice, had children, among them Mike, who tried his shot at wrestling. He also stood by his brother Paul, with whom he won several local tag team belts, and encouraged his late sister Vivianne to the top of female wrestling.
The seventies came and Vachon was a star with the Grand Prix Wrestling promotion in Montréal.
His feuds against the Leduc Brothers are great classics to remember. He also challenged at the time many babyfaces he used to fight in the past like the Rougeau family. His heel days were gone when he joined the INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING promotion in Montréal, while fighting in Verne Gagné-s AWA. He challenged a young wrestler named Pierre Lebfèvre, who also bore the name "Mad Dog". As the latter attacked his son Mike along with his buddy Michel "Justice" Dubois, Vachon got mad and administered a correction to both the villains. However, Vachon was beated once by Lebfèvre with the help of Dubois of course...In that case, Vachon was the most popular wrestler in 1981 in the promotion...
After several trips between Minnesota and Montréal, Vachon retired in 1985 and joined the WWF as a talk-show host. Then came back to Québec and did TV on a local network and advertising for the Labatt Breweries. But tragedy struck in 1986 when a truck hit him near his home in Iowa City. He lost part of his right leg due to infection. He was brought back to Montréal by several friends for rehabilitation. He tried his luck on the fast-food business (selling hamburgers) but failed. But Mad Dog stood still and faces life in a different matter today.
Vachon lives quiet days at his Iowa City home. He did a TV documentary on Canada's Comedy Channel about his life, as well as few appearances with former wrestling buddies. He also wrote a book called "A Dog's life in a crazy world". Not bad for a book title...
Source: "A Dog's Life in a crazy world" by Maurice Vachon, 1989
Copyright 1999, Productions Leduc 2000
ltd, Montrèal, QC.