There are only a couple of wrestlers known for complete brutality. One of them is the
legendary Sheik. That one-syllable name reeked havoc in the sport of wrestling from the
1950s to the 1990s. Four separate decades. He is the uncle of current superstar grappler,
Sabu. The Sheik was billed as being from Beirut, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia, but hailed from
Brooklyn, New York in the states. It was also stated that he was from Syria. He was known as
the Sheik of Araby early in his career. His Syrian style of wrestling was as brutal as it was
blunt. He withheld no punches and backed away from no one.
The Sheik could not walk by a steel chair without grabbing a hold of it. Being one of four
brothers, the Sheik was as tough as they came. Maybe the toughest. He held the NWA
United States Heavyweight Title more then ten-times. The Sheik was stated to have defeated
Andre the Giant ten years prior to Hulk Hogan did in ’87. He was legendary all over the
United States, but most importantly in Detroit. He was also very well known in Toronto, where
he had an impressive win-streak going during the 1960s.
Reportedly born in Lebanon, he made his professional debut in the early 1950s. In 1954, the
Sheik teamed with Gypsy Joe to capture the NWA Midwestern Tag Team Title. He made
“Praise Allah” signs before each match. He wrestled Bob Ellis on June 7, 1961 in a two-of-
three-fall match at the Denver Coliseum. The two wrestled in a hard-fought and brutal
contest, as the Sheik was known for and he pulled out all his tricks. During the first fall, he
retrieved a stick and beat Ellis with it until he conceded. The second fall went without use of
that weapon, and Ellis took advantage of the situation. Using his bulldog headlock in 4:38,
Ellis beat the Sheik. Trying to recapture the momentum, the Sheik was stopped with a body
press in 4:28 of the third match.
In a special no-holds-barred, no-referee contest against Fritz Von Erich on June 22, 1962,
the Sheik’s ability to take it to all corners of the arena came out before a Denver crowd. A
bloody brawl ensued between the two men and weapons were taken advantage of. The
Sheik finally beat Von Erich after 20-minutes of battle and lead the national race to be the
most vicious wrestlers of all-time. He captured the United States Title from Dick the Bruiser
on September 14, 1962 in Denver in a two-of-three-falls match. The first went to the
challenger in 6:55. Bruiser won the second and was counted out in the third. The Sheik
walked away the champ. He would not remain at that spot for long. He lost a bout to Lord
Athol Layton on October 3rd in Denver and the title was gone.
The Sheik returned to Detroit and captured the belt numerous other times. He had three
servants by the names of Bamba, Ali Hesson and Salima. The Sheik unmasked the original
Assassin in 1971 to be Guy Mitchell. He was advised by Abdullah Farouk and Eddie
Creatchman between the 1960s and ‘80’s. The Sheik began to promote “Big Time Wrestling”
with Francis Flesher between 1964 and 1980.
During the ’80s, he mentored his nephew Sabu. Sabu was turning into a full-fledged model
of the Sheik…with the same attitude and risk taking mentality that sparked thousands of
audiences years before. He was taking the Sheik’s knowledge and skills into the new
millennium. The Sheik continued to wrestle into the ‘90s, and yet another decade was
dominated by his violence.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|The Sheik Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling