Sheik Ali

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Wadi Ayoub
Sheik Ali.jpg
Ring name(s) Wadi Ayoub
Born 1927
Beirut, Lebanon
Died September 29, 1976(1976-09-29)

Wadi Ayoub (1927 -September 29, 1976) was a champion Greco–Roman style professional wrestler, best known as Sheik Ali.

Career[edit]

By the age of 22, he had progressed to being the Champion of Lebanon. In 1951, he left Lebanon behind, and came to Australia in search of a better way of life. Realising that, to be successful in professional wrestling, he needed added weight, he underwent a course of bodybuilding at Dovey’s Gymnasium, Sydney. He was successful in adding over 40 lb body weight. Additionally, he seized every opportunity to work with freestyle wrestlers and to make himself fit enough for a career in professional wrestling. Among the early wrestlers who helped him achieve his target of becoming a professional were such well-known and accomplished matmen as Tom Lurich, Chief Little Wolf and Jim Deakin.

In March 1953, he made his debut at Leichhardt Stadium, in an encounter against Jon Morro. After four more contests, Ayoub headed for New Zealand and astounded the critics by holding his own against the British Empire Champion, Earl McCready. So impressed were the eastern promoters with the potential shown by him that he was signed for a series of contests against big name wrestlers that were operating throughout India at the time. Some of these included Joginder Singh, Emil Koroshenko, Dara Singh, King Kong, Bert Assirati and Harbans Singh. His inspiring performances against these stars lead to his ranking, by accredited experts, as the sixth best wrestler in the world.

In 1956, he returned to Sydney where wrestling was in full swing. At White City, he wrestled Tiger Ray Holden before a crowd of 12,000 people. The rest of the year was spent in Hobart, Adelaide and Perth, where he competed against such first class talent as George Pencheff, King Kong and Baron von Heczey.

In 1957 at White City, he went to a draw with the Indian, Tarlok Singh, before a capacity house of 22,000 people. In October en route to Japan for a World Title clash against the Champion, Lou Thesz, he stopped in Singapore for a bout against King Kong for the Malaysian Heavyweight crown. In a fierce contest, Kong was victorious. When negotiations for his visit to Japan fell through, Ayoub decided to stay in Singapore and competed in bouts with Ricky Waldo and the famous Aslam Pehalwan.

In March 1958, Ayoub returned to Sydney. At the Sports Ground, he wrestled Andreas Lambrakis to a draw. He then went to Adelaide and Hobart, where he competed against the likes of George Duane and King Kong.

Although he was in constant demand from overseas promoters, he was ignored by the American promoters of Stadiums Limited. This had little effect on his career, as he was soon off on a five year tour of the Far East and Europe. His first stop was Singapore where he clashed with King Kong, as well as Charles Henry and Akram Pahelwan. From here, Ayoub went to India. In New Delhi, before a crowd of 80,000 he defeated Arjit Singh. For this feat, he was congratulated by the Indian Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru. His contract was extended a further year to fit in contests against George Pencheff, Bill Verna, Don Steadman, George Zbisko, Dara Singh, George Gordienko and numerous others.

1960s[edit]

1961 saw Ayoub in Europe under the promotion of the European Wrestling Alliance ( France ) and Joint Promotions (England). He went to Belgium and then Paris, where he wrestled the tough L’Homme Masque, who resorted to foul tactics by hitting him with a microphone. Ayoub retaliated and attacked Masque with such ferocity it took 25 police officers to drag him clear. Ayoub then went on to Belgium where he competed in a tournament against Horst Hoffman, Herman Iffland, Roger Delaporte and Jack Lasartesse, amongst others. He then went to England where he met an impressive line-up including Billy Robinson, Jack Pye, Tibor Szakacs, Billy Joyce, Mike Marino, George Portz and many others.

In 1962, he went to Pakistan to tackle the Pehelwan brothers, Akram and Aslam. The next step was India, and then Lebanon, where a huge crowd was on hand to watch their idol account for King Kong. In July, he toured Singapore and Thailand, where he wrestled Lofty Binnie, Red Scorpion and Sitting Bull.

In 1963 he returned to India and competed against Sucha Singh, Al Rodgoa and Dara Singh. He returned to Australia and made his headquarters in Sydney. He wrestled Lucky Simunovich, Con Paplazarou, Alex Iakovides and Elias Panagos at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Stadiums.

In 1965 Ayoub returned to Lebanon for the Middle East Championship Tournament which he won against Sky Hi Lee, Ray Apollon, George Gordienko and Joseph Zaranoff, to name but a few. In 1967 at White City in Sydney, he turned back his old nemesis, King Kong and won the Orient Heavyweight Title. He then returned to New Zealand and on to Singapore, Borneo and Taiwan where he clashed with Jack Claybourne, Steve Rickard, Mr. X and Charlie & Tony Kontellis.

1970s[edit]

In 1971, Wadi Ayoub rose to new heights of popularity. He engaged in several contests against the reigning New Zealand and British Empire Champion, John DaSilva and came out on top. In other matches, he accounted for Dr Death and El Montana.

Although circumstances prevented Ayoub showing his talents on the World Championship Wrestling Promotion, (the American promoters were loath to use Australian wrestlers to headline their programmes), the use of Wadi Ayoub in main event matches was a breakthrough for Australian–based wrestlers. In 1972, with World Championship Wrestling, Ayoub turned back such stalwarts as Killer Karl Kox, Tiger Singh, Brute Bernard and Bulldog Brower. He returned for another series of matches and again remained undefeated, this time against Bob Roop, Don Fargo, Waldo von Erich, Guy Mitchell, Don Carson and Hiro Tojo. He was also involved in tag matches with Mark Lewin, Spiros Arion and King Curtis against the likes of Abdullah the Butcher, Big Bad John and the Tojo Brothers.

In 1975, Ayoub drew enormous attendances with a majority of Lebanese spectators in his contests with the Mighty Spartagos and Prince Kumali. In the latter contest, he successfully defended his All-Asian Title. 1976 saw Ayoub ready to tour Singapore, but he contracted cancer before this could take place and subsequently died on September 29, 1976.

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and Accomplishments[edit]

  • All-Asian Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Middle East Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Oriental Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

References[edit]

External links[edit]