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Maurice Vachon (born September 14 1929) is a retired Québécois professional wrestler, best known by his ring name "Mad Dog" Vachon. He is the brother of wrestlers Paul and Vivian Vachon, and the uncle of wrestler Luna Vachon. He was among the AWA's all-time great heels with a career spanning four decades while also serving as the leader of one of the sport’s most accomplished families.

Early life

Born on September 14 1929, Maurice Vachon was one of 13 children of Montrealmarker policeman Ferdinand Vachon, and they grew up in the district of Ville-Émardmarker, a working-class borough southwest of Montreal. As a child, he regularly attended wrestling shows at the nearby Montreal Forum, where he grew up idolizing local ring legend Yvon Robert; and at just 12 years old, he had already begun grappling at the area’s YMCA. He entered a wrestling course advertised at the back of a comic book, and he began training under Chief Jim Crowley. He trained hard and even worked in the docks and on the canal to build up his muscle. By age 14, Vachon eventually established himself among Canadamarker’s premier amateur grapplers.

At just 18 years old, he competed in the 1948 Olympic Games in Londonmarker, where he pinned the Indian champion in 58 seconds and ultimately finished in seventh place at 174 pounds. Moreover, it was at the 1948 Olympics where Vachon first encountered an American Greco-Roman competitor named Verne Gagne. He rebounded to win the gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games in New Zealandmarker, and he then spent several years working as a bouncer at a Montreal nightclub before he was encouraged to join the pro wrestling circuit in 1954.

Professional wrestling career

Wrestling debut

Vachon initially debuted as a junior heavyweight for Ontario booker Larry Kasaboski; and during his first year as a pro, he won a tournament in Sudburymarker to claim the North American Junior Heavyweight Title. However, Vachon soon encountered a roadblock when powerful Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn was hesitant to use him for fear that Vachon would use his legitimate wrestling talents to dethrone Yvon Robert, who was still his top drawing card. Consequently, Vachon then took to the road; and in April 1955, he teamed with Pierre LaSalle to capture the NWA Texas Tag Team Titles.

"Mad Dog" Vachon

Despite his exceptional grappling ability, Maurice Vachon nonetheless struggled to distinguish himself from the myriad of image-less grapplers during his early years. As a result, he soon took radical measures to differentiate his persona, bulking up to a more plausible 225 pounds while also shaving his head bald and growing a long goatee. In addition, Vachon would frequently buy local TV time prior to a weekend event, which he then used to boldly proclaim his supremacy while also deprecating his opponent. Such acts of bravado were considered revolutionary at the time, though it was successful in that it attracted attention to Vachon’s new character as well as drawing additional fans to the arena. As a result, Vachon subsequently established himself as a major heel while also portraying a wrestling beast inside the ring who would freely stomp, bite, and pound his opponent into submission. Therefore, Portlandmarker promoter Don Owen accordingly bestowed Vachon with the nickname of “Mad Dog,” and the fact that he was so much smaller than the majority of his opponents only added to his mystique. Before long, “Mad Dog” Vachon consequently developed a reputation as perhaps the most feared rulebreaker in all of wrestling. Furthermore, Maurice’s younger brother Paul soon debuted himself, as he was ultimately given the nickname of “the Butcher;” and on February 17, 1959 in Edmonton, the Vachon brothers teamed to defeat Chico Garcia & Chet Wallick for the NWA Canadian Tag Team Titles.

Maurice Vachon's tendency to hurt his opponents with foreign objects, filed fingernails, and his signature finishing move, "The Piledriver", made him notorious in the business and caused him to be banned in three U.S. states. But it also made his popularity soar among the fans, including his future wife Kathie Joe, whom he met after spitting a shoe string he had used for choking his opponent at her, as she was sitting in the audience.

AWA World Heavyweight Champion

In the early 1960s, Mad Dog Vachon was then recruited to the Minnesotamarker-based American Wrestling Association by his old Olympics acquaintance Verne Gagne, who had replaced Tony Stecher as the region’s chief promoter in 1960 and who also served as its centerpiece champion. Upon debuting, Vachon immediately established himself among the promotion’s top box-office draws as fans despised his vicious, mauling tactics; and he thus made the perfect opponent for the All-American Gagne, as the two rivals soon commenced an ongoing battle that would persist on for nearly 20 years. On May 2, 1964, Vachon stunned audiences when he upset Gagne for the AWA World Heavyweight Title, and although Gagne regained the belt just two weeks later, Mad Dog again recaptured the title when he defeated Gagne on October 20 in Minneapolis. Between 1964-67, Mad Dog Vachon would ultimately hold five reigns as the AWA World Champion while taking on all comers within the promotion’s massive territory, including Gagne, Mighty Igor Vodic, as well as the legendary powerhouse duo of Crusher Lisowski & Dick the Bruiser.

Mad Dog Vachon’s final AWA title reign came to an end on February 26, 1967 at the hands of his arch-nemesis Verne Gagne; and he then briefly left the promotion in order to return to his native Montreal territory, where he captured two reigns as the IWA International Heavyweight Champion while feuding against Johnny Rougeau and Hans Schmidt. Moreover, Vachon would also leverage his close friendship with Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau to convince the authorities of the Montreal Forum to grant him a promoting license (despite the protests of Johnny Rougeau and Bob Langevin, who had taken over the region from Eddie Quinn during the mid-1960s). Nevertheless, Vachon would soon return to the AWA, where he resumed his fierce battles with the The Crusher & Dick the Bruiser, regarded by some as the greatest tag team of all-time, while forming a highly successful and dangerous tandem with his brother Paul “Butcher” Vachon. On August 30, 1969, the Vachon’s defeated Crusher & Bruiser for the AWA World Tag Team Titles; and the following year, the two battled again in a famous steel cage match at Chicago’s Comiskey Parkmarker (where the Vachon’s again emerged victorious), as their violent fights ultimately served as the precursor for a new brand of sadistic and vicious brawling that would spawn future mayhem stars like Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, and others.

Later career

Over the next decade, the Vachon family would become one of the AWA’s most dominant stables, with sister Vivian (and later on, niece Luna) dominating the women’s scene, while Maurice and Paul ruled the men’s division. In the early 1970s he even appeared alongside his sister Vivian Vachon in the motion picture Wrestling Queen. But after two decades as one the sport’s most evil characters, the fans suddenly began to rally behind the “Mad Dog” in the late 1970s when he formed an unexpected and odd friendship with ex-archrival Verne Gagne. The unlikely partners made for an impressive tag team, and on June 6, 1979, they beat Pat Patterson & Ray Stevens to capture the AWA tag titles, which they held for over a year before losing to Jesse Ventura & Adrian Adonis. But when the AWA began looking to younger stars like Rick Martel and Curt Hennig, Vachon jumped to the World Wrestling Federation in 1984. While his age and lack of size did not make for a good mix in the emerging "Hulkamania" era, the now-face (fan favorite) Vachon put people in the seats and was usually included at WWF house shows (wrestling cards) in the Midwest and Quebec.

In 1985, he appeared as cornerman for AWA World Champion Rick Martel when Martel was challenged by Boris Zhukov in several title bouts in Canada, getting involved in one match on September 19, 1985 in Winnipegmarker and fighting off Zhukov and his manager, Chris Markoff, after Markoff interfered and helped Zhukov attack Martel, while in a later rematch between Martel and Zhukov held in a steel cage on November 14, 1985 in the same city, Markoff was neutralized by being handcuffed to Vachon. He received a retirement show in his native Montrealmarker in September 1986, and he left the sport as one its most beloved fan favorites after spending almost his entire career as a sadistic villain. His innovative portrayal of a snarling, bloodthirsty monster would inspire a myriad of future “psychotic” wrestlers, including “Maniac” Mark Lewin, Bruiser Brody, George Steele, and “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer.


Upon retiring, Vachon settled in Carter Lake, Iowamarker, which is adjacent to his wife's home town of Omaha, Nebraskamarker, but tragedy then struck in 1987 when Vachon was struck by a hit-and-run driver, resulting in the forced amputation of his leg. The Vachons moved to Omaha shortly thereafter. He later turned to acting in beer commercials and was a restaurant critic for a Quebec Citymarker television station. He said, "I've eaten in almost every gas station restaurant and roadside diner in North America, I'm one Mad Dog who knows his chow."

He appeared at the WWF pay-per-view In Your House 7, that was held in Omaha. He was sitting in the front row near ringside, when wrestler Diesel ripped Vachon's artificial leg off and it was later used as a weapon in his match by Shawn Michaels. In addition, he and longtime rival The Crusher made an appearance at the 1998 Over the Edge pay-per-view, in a segment where the two legends were mocked by Jerry "The King" Lawler, including Lawler trying to steal the artificial leg. Crusher and Mad Dog then punched Lawler out of the ring and shook hands.

As of 2006, Mad Dog Vachon continues to make appearances at legends reunions and independent promotions.

He had knee surgery in 2008, which, according to his brother, Paul, was successful.[157020]

Personal life

Maurice has been married twice and is currently married to his third wife, Kathy Joe. He has six children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Championships and accomplishments

*Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)

Reference source

CBC Program: The Journal, Broadcast Date: Dec. 29, 1987 Reporter: Allen Abel Guests: Réjean Tremblay, Diane Vachon, Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon


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