Chief Don Eagle
|Chief Don Eagle|
|Birth name||Carl Donald Bell|
August 25, 1925|
Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
March 17, 1966 (aged 40)|
Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
|Professional wrestling career|
Chief Don Eagle|
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||222 lb (101 kg)|
|Trained by||Chief Joseph War Eagle|
Carl Donald Bell (August 25, 1925 - March 17, 1966), better known by his ring name Chief Don Eagle, was a Mohawk Native American professional wrestler during the 1950s and 1960s. Originally from Kahnawake, Quebec, Eagle became an AWA Boston World Champion in 1950.
Professional wrestling career
Eagle began a boxing career in 1945, after a brief time working in the steel and construction industry. He was trained solely by his father, Chief Joseph War Eagle, a former Junior Heavyweight Champion. In his first year, Eagle competed in 22 contests and won 17. He beat the established Red Dawson using a pinfall in just under 16 minutes.
During the peak of his career in the early 1950s, Eagle became the first person to throw World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Primo Carnera off his feet. He fought Antonino Rocca in a 60-minute draw on May 19, 1951, at the Chicago Stadium.
Controversy over AWA World Title (Boston)
Three days later, Eagle appeared on television without the championship belt to face Gorgeous George in another best-of-three falls match in the Chicago area. For the first fall, Eagle defeated George by submission. For the second, Eagle was counted out by referee Earl Mullihan. In the final fall, George managed to catch Eagle with a backyard cradle. Mullihan, who could clearly see that Eagle had a single shoulder off the mat, proceeded to administer another fast count and declared the match over. The crowd was furious and began to riot, throwing objects into the ring. Eagle punched Mullihan with considerable force while Mullihan hastened to leave the ring and the arena. As Mullihan ran up the aisle, Eagle hit him forcefully again between the shoulder blades. Eagle was suspended by the Illinois State Athletic Commission for putting his hands on a referee but managed to regain the title on August 31, 1950. The title was declared vacant in November 1950 due to Eagle's inactivity because of injury and was replaced by the AWA Eastern Heavyweight Title.
This Controversy and success earned him the respect of one of the biggest attractions in the early progression of televised wrestling.
During a 1953 match with the faux-Nazi Hans Schmidt, Eagle was thrown over the top rope and into the ringside chairs, damaging several spinal discs and breaking two ribs. Eagle took a year off to recover from his injuries, during which time he began training a teenage Billy Two Rivers. Eagle gave Two Rivers a further year's training after he himself had returned to wrestling, occasionally tagging with the young wrestler. Due to continuing back problems, Eagle became semi-retired and wrestled infrequently in various regions over the next three years. Eagle decided to retire permanently in 1963 at the age of 38.
Wrestling Revue reported Eagle's death on March 17, 1966, stating that it appeared the Native American had died from a self-inflicted gun wound. Contemporary newspaper reports indicated that he had been despondent over some construction project setbacks: namely, a Logan County (Ohio) Indian village, an expansion program in the Zane Shawnee Caverns, and a $12 million Indian Center near Montreal. Worth noting, is people close to Eagle do not believe that his death was a suicide. Billy Two Rivers being one of those people. Skeptics of his death noted that it could have been a murder, connected to the death of his wife, Jean Eagle .
Championships and accomplishments
- Cleveland Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship (1945)
- American Wrestling Association (Boston)
- AWA World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2016
- Fred Kohler Enterprises
- World Heavyweight Championship (Illinois version)
- Midwest Wrestling Association (Ohio)
- "Chief Don Eagle Wrestling History". Professional Wrestler Information. Legacyofwrestling.com. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Oliver, Greg. "SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Chief Don Eagle". Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Daily Gazette, Xenia, OH; 3-19-1966