Grappling with Tragedy is a series of articles that deal with unfortunate, tragic incidents that have occurred throughout the history of professional wrestling. It is unlike the ‘Wrestling with Sin’ series that deals more with the seedier side of wrestling like arrests, murders and suicides. Grappling looks more at particular tragic incidents that have in some instances altered pro wrestling in some way.
Tarzan Tyler, Adrien Desbois and Pierre Lefebvre
Tarzan Tyler started his career in 1949 after being trained by Jacques Rougeau Sr. After spending the first ten years of his career wrestling in Canada…Tyler ventured to the United States. Tarzan Tyler challenged Verne Gagne for the AWA world title, Dory Funk Jr for the NWA world title and Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF world title. Tyler’s greatest success came when he teamed with ‘Crazy’ Luke Graham. The duo became the inaugural WWWF tag team champions.
‘Mad Dog’ Pierre Lefebvre was trained and debuted at 17 years old. He too started out his career wrestling solely in Canada. Lefebvre was a childhood friend of Raymond Rougeau. He got the nickname Mad Dog because he resembled fellow wrestler ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon. After a year wrestling, Pierre quit the business to take a more steady job as a welder. After a couple of years, his friend Ray Rougeau convinced him to return to the squared circle. Lefebvre wrestled all throughout Canada, Japan and in the United States. Mad Dog Lefebvre also worked for the WWF in 1985….mostly on Canadian house shows.
Adrien Desbois was a referee employed by Lutte Internationale, a wrestling promotion based in Montreal, Canada. He was an official for the company for just two years.
In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1985…Tyler, Desbois and Lefebvre were returning from a show when the car they were traveling in slid on a patch of icy road in Laurentides Wildlife Reserve in Quebec. Their car struck a tow truck and all three men were killed. The tow truck driver was unharmed.
Their deaths were a major loss for the Lutte Internationale company…especially Tarzan Tyler…who was the promotion’s top heel and was in the middle of a red hot feud with Abdullah the Butcher. While Lutte survived for two more years, the company was never quite the same after the three men’s tragic deaths and eventually folded in 1987.
Tarzan Tyler was 58 years old at the time of his death. Pierre Lefebvre was 30 years old and Adrien Desbois was 35 years old.