As most of you already know, early yesterday morning, in Hamilton, Ontario, Byron John “Dewey” Robertson lost the longest match of his life: his battle against cancer. He was 68. Under a mask as The Crusader, or wrestling as the clean cut Canadian Champ Dewey Robertson, and finally as the mysterious, ferocious Missing Link, Robertson entertained thousands. Recently, ECW Press published the candid and compelling Bang Your Head!, the biography he co-authored with Meredith Renwick. Robertson is survived by his sons Jason and Mark and their families, and companion Karen Antoniak. ECW offers them and all his friends our sincerest condolences.
Dewey, as I knew him, was a towering man, as broad as he was tall, who always had a snappy joke and a ready wink for the women in the room.
“Where were you when I was young?” he once said to me, as we sat across the table to discuss publicity for his book.
Dewey’s heyday of professional wrestling had passed long before, but American fans will always remember that man with the green face, “The Missing Link”, who emerged growling from a swamp and stepped into the squared circle and the hearts of millions. When I met him last year, his cancer was in remission. Despite his chemo, Dewey still looked fighting fit. Each of his biceps was as big as a small tree trunk.
Dewey had a rough life. He was a substance abuser for a long time, and chronically depressed. The pressures of being on the road lost him his family, his friends, and his home. He was generous to a fault, giving away money freely to whoever asked for it, and when he became drug-free, devoting his time to the public-speaking circuit to educate young people about the dangers of drug use. His memoir, Bang Your Head! was a result of this as well. At our publicity meeting, he told me that the only thing he wanted to get out of this was to make people aware by his own example.
With his large carriage, his gentle demeanour, and his snuffly-gruffly voice, Dewey endeared himself to all of us at ECW Press. We were always happy to see him when he lumbered into the office during the book’s production, roaring at the top of his voice and frightening some of us witless. Dewey’s book launch was a very important day for him, because he achieved his goal that day, and held that book, the story of his life, in his hands. Many strangers showed up at the launch, all wrestling fans, all who remembered Dewey from their childhood days watching Maple Leaf Wrestling, where he was one of their superstars. They came up and spoke to him at his table, and he was so touched by their compliments and warm wishes, that at one point, he was misty-eyed. I don’t think he ever imagined he would see this day, this life goal accomplished, thanks to Meredith Renwick’s angelic hand.
Dewey planned to write a second book, about the dangers of drug use, but instead, his cancer returned, and he had to fight it. On Sunday, we received notice that Dewey was back in hospital again because the cancer had returned to his lungs, liver, and kidney, and had only a week or two to live. At 3:30 am yesterday morning, he passed on.
I hope there’s a squared circle somewhere out there, wherever you are, Dewey. Bang your head and keep on fightin’.
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