The Beast, Fighting Biggest Battle Of His Life

The Beast, Fighting The Biggest Battle Of His Life, Outside Of The Ring

Yvon Cormier, it may not be a household name in most parts of Canada, but in The Maritimes he is the most beloved folk hero of our time. Cormier, better known as The Beast first appeared on the wrestling scene in 1963 and captured the hearts of young and old with his shear brute strength and raw power. As a child I fondly remember my grand-father’s stories of his feats of strength, and things he used to do to amaze on-lookers. We lived some 3 hours from Memramcook NB, where Yvon Cormier lived, but he talked about him like he lived down the road, as do most Maritimers when they tell you their favourite stories about him.

He was not a giant of a man, at 5 ft 10, 255lbs during his career, he was one of the legitimate strongest men in Canada at one time, and lived up to that reputation with ease. He was more than a strong-man, he was one of the first wrestlers to be a weight and health fanatic, as many wrestlers later recall, “he would be lying there bench-pressing 450 pounds like it was a 50 pound bag of potatoes, totally amazing”. His knowledge of how to use his brute like strength no doubt came to him at a young age from shoeing and working with horses in the fields and dead-lifting boulders into the back of the wagons to working in the woods. The legend of his strength had begun, way before his wrestling career ever did. When Yvon started out in wrestling he went by the names Pierre Lebelle and Ivan The Lumberjack, but it was during a trip to the Southern States that he was given the name “The Beast”, by promoter Jim Crocket Sr. and kept until the day he hung up his boots for good. The Beast travelled all over the world during his career and once wrestled Giant Baba in Japan, in front of 46 000 people. The Beast wrestled seven different world champions, including six, 90-minute draws with world champions. He also toured Australia periodically with his brother Rudy, who passed away last May.

You hear stories in every corner of The Maritimes about Yvon, like how as a teen he would lift huge boulders onto the back of the horse drawn wagons, how he once bench-pressed a phenomenal 527 lbs officially back in 1979, and I think one of the most famous stories I’ve heard was he was out in the field, his horse was being very un-cooperative and Yvon had punched it behind the ear and knocked it completely out, dropped it like a ton of bricks!! As I recall this, I can still see the gleam of pride in my grand-fathers eyes as he raised his fist, which was the size of a small ham(for he was a big man), and POWW!! he said, just like that, the horse was out cold. I remember thinking (keep in mind I was a small boy) WOW, that is something, this man must be a giant!

My first meeting with The Beast went very well, I was nervous as one can be, and my grand-father said, come on lets go, he is really a nice guy get his autograph. He was standing there outside the locker-room watching his brother Bobby in the ring, arms crossed with the “Beastly” stare in his eyes, I was scarred shitless, even though he was a good guy, he looked like a bad guy, was I ever wrong. My grand-father was first to approach him as I hid behind him, they shook hands and talked for a moment, then he said with a grumble “come here young fella, I don’t bite”. I got to meet him and get my picture autographed, I had done it, I had met The Beast, he wasn’t so scary after-all.

I have been doing alot of research for a little project I am trying to put together in The Maritimes this summer and needed to find out some info about the Cormiers, I was contacted with an email that I thought contained information that I had needed, instead I was caught totally off guard with its contents, it reads as follows,

Dear Joe,
“My dad is in the Hospital fighting cancer so I don’t know what is going to happen. I am in Alberta and the rest of my family is all in NB. Being the only girl with 4 boys I didn’t follow the Wrestling like my brothers did. I was daddy’s girl and never wanted to see him get hurt. I probably wouldn’t be the best one to interview, my brothers would be better. I can ask one of my brothers to contact you if you would like? Just maybe once things settle down with my dad. He found out last May around the time my uncle Rudy passed away that he had Lymphoma and after his first treatment he had a heart attack so once he got over that we were thinking all was good but when he went for his last treatment in December they found a few more lumps so they were not able to do his last treatment after more tests they found out a few weeks ago that it moved to his bone marrow we were told that they are going to give him a few treatments and if they don’t work there is nothing else they can do. My dad has been in some big fights in his life but this is the biggest fight of his life. For this one I am ring side and wanting him to win..…”
Thank you for your prayers,
Anita

As I read this email, my eyes watered up. I could not believe what I was reading. I immediately dropped everything and went into deep thought, how could this be? A man who had sacrificed so much in his personal life, to give us, the fans, memories that will last a lifetime, that will carry on to the next generation as it has to ours, in our folk stories, laughter and recollections, he was involved in the biggest fight of his life, yet there wasn’t even a ripple of information in the media about our beloved Beast.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in your time of need Yvon, you mean more to all of us than what you will ever know…Anita, I think I speak for everyone when I say, we are all at ringside with you now, waiting for our Mighty Beast, our Hero, to kick out once again…..GET WELL SOON…..

Joe Dunlap-CGPW Wrestling

  • T. C. Reynolds

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Beast and his family . He is a true legend in pro wrestling .

    T. C. Reynolds

  • Maggie

    My thoughts and Prayers are with you and your family in this difficult moments, I worked with the Beast when he worked construction for Belliveau Excavation out of Dieppe, Him and his crew worked in Balmoral in the late seventies/early eighties, I worked as a flag girl on the crew, he always had a joke for me and always had a big smile.Especially when my Mom would have her cookies, The boys used to love that, Take care Beast , may God bless you !

  • Arthur LeBlanc

    As I grew up in Breau Creek with Ivon an I am the god-father of Rudy Kay I have known the family. They are the nicest people in the world an I went to see Ivon a few days ago he seem in good spitrit. My prayers are with him every day, I think someone should get some old clips off the fights that he had in the past an show them again on T.V. so it would shake the memories of the people that has forgotten him. To the family an Ivan I wish him the best and thank him for the many wounderful memories of time past in front of the tube watching Atlantic Grand Pree in those days U did not drugs to be a man. Art

  • Donna Hicks Cormier

    Hi
    I read this column via Anita’s Facebook. Anita is my ex-sister in-law.
    I am the Mother of 3 of the Beast (or as we know him Grampy) grandchildren.
    I have 3 wonderful children who love their Grampy very much. They don’t really know him as the Beast, they just know him as good old lovable Grampy.
    He was pretty much retired when they came along. But most if not all of their knowledge comes from their Father and Uncles and of course Grampy himself. My oldest is a big wrestling fan (Just like his father) and was thinking at one point of heading in that career. I guess he could always go by Little Beast. LOL..
    He is taller then his grandfather but still not as big and certainly not as strong as Grampy. He has that Cormier blood in him that is for sure.
    Thank god for this web site and You Tube it lets them learn more about their Wonderful Grandfather. This is a very hard time for them and the rest of the family as they All sit at Ring Side cheering Grampy / Dad / Husband Yvon on.
    He has an amazing Wife Doris (Nanny) who has been by his side the whole time and now the rest of the family is there too.
    Thank you so much for this column it was great and I just want to say THANK YOU from Me (Donna) and my children Noah, Jacob and Anita and I am sure the rest of the Cormier family.
    Doris
    Richard and his daughters Dominic and Marissa
    Robert and his Wife Eva and son Adam
    Stanley and his Wife Sherry and his sons Noah and Jacob and daughter Anita
    Anita and husband Ricky
    and Steven Cormier
    P.S. Aunt Anita you did a GREAT JOB also..xoxoxo
    Thank you so much
    Donna Hicks Cormier

  • Lisa

    Hello ~
    As a close friend of the “Beasts’” oldest son, Richard, I am very sad to report that the Beast is fading very fast, in fact he now rests comfortably in palliative care at the GDH in Moncton, with only days or possibly even hours to live. The cancer has fully matastasized throughout his body, disabling him almost totally. His family is by his side at all times, and he is visited frequently by many many friends, relatives, and even fans… I had a last visit with him yesterday, and while I think of him and his family everyday, and revisit memories of watching wrestling at the J-Louis Levesque arena in Moncton 30+ years ago; where “The Beast” always won his match ~ I can’t help but smile when I know if he could, he would do just that again today… but his opponent this time, is bigger, taller, meaner, and stronger ~ and will come out the winner, unfortunately. This is indeed a very sad time for the Cormier family, but I know they will all move forward with wonderful life memories of the legend of their father, brother, uncle, friend, grand father, and husband. God Bless ~

  • Julie

    RIP my friend! you will be missed!

  • Carolyn maclennan

    I will like to offer my sincere condolences to The family of the greatest. The Beast. my family was a huge fan when he and his brothers wrestled in Haliax.in the 70′s at the forum. My prayers are with the family at this difficult time.