Edward George Farhat (June 9, 1926 - January 18, 2003) was an American professional wrestler best known as by his ring name The Sheik (or The Original Sheik to distinguish him from The Iron Sheik, a wrestler from the 1980s). He is also one of the originators of what became the hardcore wrestling style, and the uncle of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) legend Sabu.
Early life and career
He started out wrestling in the Midwest and later in Texas but his biggest match was one he didn't wrestle in. He was set to face NWA World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz in Chicago for his title but Thesz had a reputation for embarrassing "gimmick" wrestlers so The Sheik bailed from the ring and hid under a bus. The publicity from the event helped push the Sheik character to a more prominent level. He went to New York for Vincent J. McMahon where he teamed with Johnny Valentine and Bull Curry in feuds against Mark Lewin and Don Curtis as well as the team of Antonino Rocca and Miguel Pérez in Madison Square Garden. He returned when McMahon formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation to feud with Bruno Sammartino in the WWF's major markets in the late 1960s.
The Sheik's gimmick
The Sheik's wrestling was centered around his character of a rich wild man from Syria. He locked on normally mundane holds and refuse to break them, leading to submission. He used hidden pencils to cut open his opponent's faces. Often, the tactic backfired and the opponent got The Sheik's pencil, leading to the extensive scarring on Farhat's forehead. The other illegal move was his fireball that he threw into his opponents' faces, sometimes burning their face severely. He didn't speak on camera, apart from the incomprehensible, oft-uttered phrase "aloo, aloo!" which he repeated in the ring. He had two different managers during his career to cut promos on his behalf. His first manager was Abdullah Farouk but when he managed full-time in WWF, Eddy Creatchman became his manager.
Noteworthy feuds and matches
His biggest feud was his seemingly career-long feud with Bobo Brazil in Detroit, the Sheik's main territory. The two feuded over Sheik's version of the United States Championship, frequently selling out the Cobo Arena. This is seen briefly on the "documentary" movie, I Like to Hurt People. The two took the feud to several markets, most notably Memphis, Tennessee and Los Angeles, California. His other major opponent in Los Angeles was Fred Blassie. Sheik and Blassie faced off several times, including cage matches in the Grand Olympic Auditorium.
In 1968, he was brought into the WWWF for title matches with champion Bruno Sammartino. They met three times in Madison Square Garden—Sheik won the first via count out, he was disqualified in the second, and he lost to Bruno in a Texas Death Match via submission when Bruno grabbed a foreign object (pen) and hammered Sheik's arm to a bloody pulp. Sammartino and Sheik also had a series of matches in Boston, including one sell out the day after a crippling snow storm, and public transportation not yet restored.
Starting in 1969, he also wrestled regularly in Toronto, where he was undefeated for 127 matches at Maple Leaf Gardens. He defeated the likes of Whipper Billy Watson, Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, Bruno Sammartino, Édouard Carpentier, Ernie Ladd, Jay Strongbow and even André the Giant during Andre's first extensive tour of North America in 1974. It was Andre who put an end to the Sheik's Toronto winning streak in August 1974 by disqualification. In 1976 he lost by pinfall to Thunderbolt Patterson and Bobo Brazil. Sheik continued to headline most shows in Toronto until 1977, but business dropped off significantly over the last three years. Few fans were aware of the fact that he was actually the booker within Frank Tunney's promotion. As well he was the promoter at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
Later he went to Japan. His run was successful but management squandered all the money so when the company went bankrupt, Sheik jumped to Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling. He jumped a year later to Inoki's New Japan Pro Wrestling but had a falling out and left Japan to wrestle full-time in Detroit. He returned in 1977 for All Japan, teaming and feuding with Abdullah the Butcher. His match with Abdullah the Butcher against Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk where Terry fought off Butcher and Sheik with his arm in a sling is credited for turning the foreign Funks into faces in Japan.
In 1980, he wrestled for various independent promotions throughout the United States and Japan through the 1980s.
During the 1990s, he mainly wrestled in Japan for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and had various dangerous death matches. On May 6, 1992, The Sheik had a "fire deathmatch" with Sabu against Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto, where the ring ropes were replaced with flaming barbed wire and he got third-degree burns and went into a coma.
In 1994, he had a brief run in Extreme Championship Wrestling where he teamed with Pat Tanaka against Kevin Sullivan and Taz. He also suffered a heart attack while entering a taxi in Tokyo. He wrestled his last match in Japan in 1998.
When Sabu joined WCW in 1995, Farhat joined him as his manager. During a match with Jerry Lynn, who was wrestling as "Mr. JL" at the time, Farhat had his leg accidentally broken by Sabu and Lynn during a spot no one told Farhat about.
Retirement and legacy
Sheik retired to his estate and he died on January 18, 2003 of heart failure. In his later years, Sheik provided extensive interviews to his biographer with the intent of publishing a book on his life. These interviews provided a highly explosive look into the world of wrestling, especially on the early days of the WWE and Japanese wrestling organizations. As a result, the interviews and draft book were sealed at the time of his death. Despite large offers for movie rights to this book, it is unknown when or if the Sheik's family will allow his biographer to release the book.
He was one of professional wrestling's biggest box office attractions and he is seen as a pioneer of "hardcore wrestling" which became a major part of professional wrestling in the 1990s. On March 31, 2007, The Sheik was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his nephew Sabu and Rob Van Dam, who he had trained.
His wife, Joyce, who was with him as the Princess, when he started wrestling, died Wednesday night, November 27, 2013, in Michigan.
- Finishing and signature moves
- Sheik's Choke
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers trained
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA United National Champion (1 time)
- WWE Hall Of Fame (Class of 2007)