LEO “THE LION” L’HEUREUX
(1922 – 1931)
Real Name: Leo L’Heureux
Weight: 235 .lbs
Born: 1898 – St. Pierre, Manitoba?
Manitoba Amateur Heavyweight Title 1921
Western Canadian Heavyweight Title 1925 (first champion)
Prior to turning pro, L’Heureux was an established amateur wrestler with the St. Pierre-based Union Canadienne. He was one of several wrestlers managed by sportsman Ephrem L’Heureux. In April 1921, he is acknowledged as the Manitoba Amateur Heavyweight Champion (over 175 pounds) at the Winnipeg Board of Trade.
International Athletic Club – Promoter Benny Travers:
05/05 Winnipeg, MB drew Charlie Gustafson Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match (pro debut)
*The bout lasted three hours and was described by The Manitoba Free Press (5/06) as “one of the hardest fought matches in Canada”. He is reportedly in training for a rematch, according to La Liberte (7/25), but a return bout may not have taken place.
06/15 St. Pierre, MB vs. Nels Moe Annual Unione Canadienne Sports Festival
*Moe is referred to as “the heavyweight champion from Quest”.
08/01 Winnipeg, MB lost to Rogers Handicap Match
*L’Heureux failed to throw Rogers within 15 minutes
09/30 Ste. Rose du Lac, MB beat Young Gotch Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
11/?? beat Nels Moe
*Won Western Canadian Heavyweight Title; unclear if this is the same championship L’Heureux won from Scotty McDougall in 1925.
12/05 Winnipeg, MB lost to Canadian Heavyweight Champion Jack Taylor
12/12 Winnipeg, MB lost to Canadian Heavyweight Champion Jack Taylor
Jack Taylor’s victories over L’Heureux, who he dominated in their short exhibition bouts, helped cement his claim to the Canadian and British Empire heavyweight titles, and ultimately his rise to stardom during the early 1920s.
07/?? Appears with Jack Taylor in a public demonstration on “how to take and break the standard wrestling holds, particularly the toe-hold which has made Jack Taylor famous”. L’Heureux is referred to by The Winnipeg Tribune (7/31) as the “ex-heavyweight Wrestling champion of Manitoba”.
Empire Athletic Club – Promoter D’Arcy McIlroy:
01/01 Winnipeg, MB beat Frank Saxon (sub. for Henry Ordeman?)
One Big Union Athletic Club:
04/25 Winnipeg, MB drew Canadian Heavyweight Champion Jack Taylor
Empire Athletic Club:
05/08 Winnipeg, MB beat Big Paul Lemieux
05/24 Winnipeg, MB beat Buck Olson
06/17 Winnipeg, MB drew Henry Ordeman Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
09/?? L’Heureux is hired as a wrestling coach for the One Big Union Athletic Association
10/18 Swift Current, SK lost to Canadian Heavyweight Champion Jack Taylor
Empire Athletic Club:
03/05 Winnipeg, MB vs. Scotty McDougall?
03/12 Winnipeg, MB beat Scotty McDougall
*Won inaugural Western Canadian Heavyweight Title
Spokane Athletic Club – Promoter Tom “Hat” Freeman?:
07/08 Spokane, WA vs. European Heavyweight Champion Stanislaus Zbyszko Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Champion vs. Champion Match
*Billed as Canadian Champion
?? L’Heureux tours the Pacific Coast where he “makes his mark by knocking out such famous wrestlers as Jim Durkin and the famous Indian Jatrinda Gobar”.
Promoter Emile Klank:
08/15 Vancouver, BC beat Stanislaus Zbyszko by reverse decision Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
*Zbyszko was initially announced as the winner, however, the decision was reversed due to the controversy surrounding the match. Billy Finlay, ex-sports editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, was scheduled to be the special guest referee but was late to the show after being detained at New Westminister. He was replaced by “a man named Taylor whose eyesight was lacking that night” and seemed to be siding with Zbyszko throughout the match. L’Heuruex managed to score the second fall, and very nearly won the third, but Zbyszko managed to knockout L’Heuruex with an illegal palm strike. Zbyszko and the referee fled through the ropes together as the crowd rushed the ring and were saved only by the intervention of local police. L’Heuruex is subsequently granted a title shot against world champion Joe Stecher, with ambitions of becoming the first-ever Canadian to hold the belt.
09/09 Vancouver, BC lost to World Heavyweight Champion Joe Stecher by submission Champion vs. Champion Match?
10/15 Winnipeg, MB lost to World Heavyweight Champion Joe Stecher Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Champion vs. Champion Match
*Billed as Canadian Heavyweight Champion, L’Heureux is promoted by La Liberte (10/7) as “the first Manitoban with a chance to win the world heavyweight championship”.
11/?? Among the wrestlers invited on Emil Klank’s year-long international tour visiting the British Isles, Poland, India, Japan, the Philippine Islands, Australia and South America. L’Heureux joins on the Australian portion of the tour.
04/09 Winnipeg, MB beat Tom Jenkins Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
05/24 Winnipeg, MB drew Frank Judson Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
*Billed as the Western Canada Heavyweight Champion
05/31 Vancouver, BC lost to Stanislaus Zbyszko Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
?? Apparently retired after marrying Maria Trinaux (1901-1935) the previous year, and opened a hotel in Montmartre, SK in 1929.
04/19 The Vancouver Sun receives a letter from Leo L’Heureux who puts out an open challenge to any wrestler in the world. He is particularly interested in meeting “Strangler” Lewis or Everett Marshall.
Promoter Emil Klank:
05/21 Vancouver, BC drew Joe Malcewicz
*According to The Province (5/22) this was his first wrestling match in six years. He is reportedly overweight and has trouble keeping up with Malcewicz throughout the bout.
05/25 Nanaimo, BC beat Stanley Pinto by DQ
05/28 Vancouver, BC beat Jack O’Dell
06/04 Vancouver, BC lost to Joe Malcewicz Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
*According to the Victoria Daily Times (6/05), Malcewicz “threw L’Heureux on his neck so hard with a reverse body slam in the second round that Leo failed to even hear, let alone respond, to the bell announcing the third round. Even ten minutes later Leo’s feet wouldn’t track just right.”
R.I.P the Lion
(The Vancouver Sun, Saturday, June 6, 1931)
“The evening transcontinental last night pulled slowly out of the depot. It was a heavily loaded train since it carried all that is left of Leo L’Heureux, who headed sadly for that hotel, the little woman and the hunting dogs at Montmartre. Leo went home convinced that this wrestling game of today has left him not a little distance behind. He won’t be back. From now on he’ll spread nothing on the mat but customers at his hostelry and his “shooting” matches will be confined to swamps infested with duck or geese. He is a noted marksman but the elephant gun he brought west with him on his pachyderm hunt wasn’t loaded.”
Wrestling Champion Sued for Blows; JUDGE THINKS FIGHT
(The Leader-Post, Wednesday, October 7, 1936)
“When Leo L’Heureux, 245-pound former wrestling champion of Manitoba, now a Montmart hotel-keeper, hit Lionel Faubert, young Montmartre farmer, on the night of Feb. 13 during a party. “Faubert just fell,” witnesses in king’s bench court testified Wednesday. Faubert is suing L’Heureux for unstated damages, claiming injuries and humiliation as a result of the blows. For the plaintiff is appear ing George Thorn and for the defendant, D. C. Fyffe. The case will continue in the afternoon. So much scrapping was referred to in evidence of witnesses Wednesday morning that Mr. Justice Embury, who presided, became confused and remarked: “It looks as if it was a continuous performance an Irishman’s fight.” It was an all-male array of witnesses who trailed to the witness box Wednesday morning, all of them having been at the party.”
Leo L’Heureux, One-Time Wrestling Champ, Shows Em How
(The Leader-Post Saturday, October 14, 1939)
“MONTMARTRE, Oct. 14, – One of the most interesting sportsmen in the southland is Leo L’Heureux, who was at one time the amateur wrestling champion of Canada. The Manitoba-born Frenchman is as handy with a Winchester as he is with a half-Nelson. As a matter of fact, it is conceded that L’Heureux is one of the best shots in the country. At Montmartre leading sportsmen of the village and district sat down to a top-ranking wild fowl dinner at the hotel prior to organizing the Montmartre branch of the Saskatchewan Fish and Game league. A number of Regina sportsmen, officials of the league, were there. Thanks to L’Heureux’s marksmanship, there was enough fowl for a second helping all round.”
*Grappling on the Grain Belt: Wrestling in Manitoba to 1931 by Charles Nathan Hatton
*Wrestling Title Histories by Gary Will and Royal Duncan
*Various newspaper articles