Guest Author - Vance Rowe
There have been many wrestlers who have wrestled solely on a hardcore basis and have used foreign objects as their primary wrestling move but none have done it better than the Sheik. The Sheik has used just about everything from pencils to railroad spikes to inflict pain and punishment on his opponents but his favorite thing to use was the fireball. He was the first wrestler to throw fire in an opponent’s face and the opponent usually “sold” it well and pretended that their face was severely burned in a match.
The Sheik was born in Michigan in 1926 but was billed as being from the Syrian Desert. He was also the owner of Big Time Wrestling, a popular promotion in the 1960’s. He was also a firm believer in the term “kayfabe” and went out of his way to protect the secrets of professional wrestling. When fans would approach him on the street, the Sheik would often throw a fireball at them as well to protect his ring persona. He would even have his friends and family call him Sheik instead of Ed. His nephew, professional wrestler Sabu said that when people would call the house and ask for Edward, he would respond simply with “No one lives here by that name.” and would hang the phone up. Rob Van Dam, in an interview once said, when speaking of the Sheik’s support of kayfabe, that he told Rob to always protect the business and always protect the opponent.
In the 1980’s when a wrestler named the Iron Sheik appeared on the scene, Farhat would call himself the Original Sheik so the two would not be confused in billings. When he first began wrestling, he billed himself as the Sheik of Araby and later reduced it to the Sheik. He has had four managers in his illustrious career with the first being The Princess, Joyce Farhat. Then there was Abdullah Farouk, Eddie Creatchman and the Grand Wizard. It was Farouk and Creatchman that did his in ring promos as well. Please note that Abdullah Farouk and the Grand Wizard are both one in the same person. They were both the creations of one man named Ernie Roth.
He would wrestle for the WWWF and for the NWA territories and held several territorial versions of the NWA’s United States Championship and one of his longest and biggest feuds was against Bobo Brazil. He wrestled in Canada as well and was undefeated in one hundred twenty-seven straight matches beating the likes Bruno Sammartino, Gene Kiniski, Lou Thesz, Edouard Carpentier and Andre the Giant. It was finally a match with Andre that the streak ended. He was even supposed to wrestle Lou Thesz one time for the NWA World title but Thesz had a penchant for exposing and humiliating gimmick wrestlers so the Sheik bolted from the ring and hid under a bus.
. The Sheik was always a big wrestling draw and often sold out the Cobo Arena in Detroit, where he feuded often with Bobo Brazil and even claimed to “own” Detroit, Michigan as he was very popular there. The Sheik truly set the standard for hardcore wrestling and would also often apply a submission hold and hold it no matter what until the opponent submitted.
The Sheik passed in 2003 and was inducted into the WWE’S hall of Fame in 2007 by his nephew Sabu and one of his trainees, Rob Van Dam.