REAL NAME: Angel Acevedo
BORN: January 27, 1945 in San Juan, Puerto Rico
5’7″, 250 pounds
The original Cuban Assassin, Angel Acevedo, tried to retire from wrestling in 1992, but kept getting drawn back in. He kept his training up, and would get invited to shows near his home outside Calgary, reluctantly accepting the invitations.
Then one day, he entered the ring and got a big surprise. “Before the people used to boo me, call me names — oh, every thing in the almanac! When I go now, people stand up,” explained ‘Cubie’ to SLAM! Wrestling. “In New Brunswick, they’ve got signs, ‘Cuban Assassin #1’, ‘Cuban Assassin is my dad’, ‘Cuban Assassin the real 3:16’.”
Acevedo, now 55, attributes part of his popularity to longevity, but also treating people right. “When I’m in the ring, I’m really violent. But when I’m on the street, I’m a real gentleman.” He’s more than willing to give out autographs, even in restaurants where he really stands out with his wild mane of black hair, and his impressive beard.
Born in January 1945 in Puerto Rico to a Cuban father, and Puerto Rican mother, Acevedo and his family moved to Cuba when he was only seven months old. He was an amateur wrestler in school, and knew something of the pro game. But it was boxing that got ahold of him first, and he turned pro. It didn’t last.
“When I was in boxing, I was 135 pounds. Then I put my weight up when they convinced me I could go in wrestling. I started wrestling when I was 180 pounds. I went to 250, but my weight now is 230,” explained Acevedo. He spent three years training for wrestling in Florida, and debuted with Eddie Graham’s promotion in the Sunshine State.
Why wrestling? “The money was there. When you’re in boxing, you’re nobody. You fight maybe once a year. You make $7,500 for one fight … when you’re wrestling, and the people like you, the promoters, they have to pay you.”
Professional wrestling took him around the world, and he’s quick to rattle off locations: Japan 17 times, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany eight times, France, Italy, South America, Tennessee, Calgary.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he calls The Maritimes his favourite place in the world to wrestle. “The money is steady, it’s summer, and I like the place. That was the first place, I came from Cuba to the United States. And the United States to Canada. And the first border that I crossed, I was driving from Boston to St. Stephen, New Brunswick. It was summer, and I never spent a winter there. I love the summer there.”
He recalled wild battles out east with The Beast and Leo Burke, whom he calls his toughest opponent, hold for hold. And his infamous tag team with Sweet Daddy Siki, which continued later in Kansas City.
Atlantic Grand Prix promoter Emile Dupre admitted that he was a little taken aback by the Cuban Assassin’s appeal in the Maritimes. “Personally, he didn’t impress me right away… somebody had to point it out to me,” he explained. “The people just grabbed him and that was it. He was a very favourite guy around here … for not being a real big guy, he sure got over.”
His gimmick was unlike anything ever seen in the area, particularly as he debuted during Grand Prix’s heyday, when giants like Andre the Giant and Don Leo Jonathan were packing them in. “It was something different for around this part, a Cuban,” said Dupre. “His gimmick with the long hair, the fatigues, Castro look. It was something different.”
The other memorable part of the Cuban Assassin gimmick was that there was often more than one of them. Cuban Assassin #1 would team with Cuban Assassin #2, like there was some factory out in Havana churning out short, stocky, evil heel wrestlers.
One of the other Cuban Assassins was David Sierra, who actually made it to the NWA/WCW for a while in the late ’80s. Acevedo recalled that Sierra — who was born in Miami to an American mother and Cuban father — asked if he could use the same gimmick. The elder Cuban relented, but stipulated that it couldn’t be used in Japan. “I don’t care who’s using my gimmick. You can duplicate it if you want, never will it be the same anyway,” he said.
This past summer he teamed with a new Cuban Assassin #2 on the Grand Prix circuit — his 28-year-old son Richie, from a previous marriage. It came as a bit of a surprise to Acevedo that his son wanted to follow him into wrestling. He knew that Richie was into karate, but didn’t learn that he had started wrestling until getting some photos of the action in the mail.
Acevedo does some construction and handyman work when not wrestling these days, and lives outside Calgary now, with his second wife and their two children. He has two other offspring in West Virginia, including Richie. He’s been living in Canada since 1976, and met his current love in 1978. But how did the wives feel about the wild hair and beard? “They like me like that,” he laughed. “If I shaved, maybe they’d change their minds!”
Calgary was a great location for Acevedo to get overseas to wrestle. And, of course, it was home to Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion, for which he wrestled for when he wasn’t travelling the globe.
Being one of the senior wrestlers on the Stampede circuit meant that Acevedo had to help bring along the youngsters. “Bret Hart’s first match was against me in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1977, I think,” said the Cuban Assassin. “Chris Benoit, he was like a kid when he started in the business.”
To this day, he still helps out young wrestlers at the shows. Helping a youngster along is fine line between giving them confidence and dashing their dreams. “I tried not to get too rough with them, tried not to let them get too nervous,” said Acevedo. “Then after the match finished, if I’ve got time to go around to the dressing room, I go. And I tell ‘you’re doing great, kid. Don’t get excited, don’t get nervous. Think what you’re doing there.'”
Cubie is a multi-time tag team champ in the Stampede promotion, including stints with Franciso Flores and Honky Tonk Man Wayne Ferris. But to him, the best partner was Gerry Morrow. “I’m from Cuba. He’s from Martinique, 60-70 miles away. He speaks French, but he speaks Spanish and he speaks Japanese, and he speaks broken English like me.”
The duo, at one point dubbed the Cuban Commandos, worked well together. “If I was in trouble in the ring, I give him a signal. If he was in trouble, he give me a signal. But don’t say that to the people — they’re going to find out!” he said while laughing.
Of all the places that the Cuban Assassin travelled, and all the wrestling moments, he said that going to Germany was the most wonderful of them all. “Everybody’s telling me how bad Germany was, how bad the people were. I went there, and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of fans. I can’t believe it. I learned the language, a little bit to get by. Now I’ve got nothing but German friends. They have to be one of the best peoples in the world.”
- June 16, 2020: Richie Acevedo plays an Assassin (of sorts) in horror film ‘WrestleMassacre’
- July 23, 2014: Cuban Assassin #2 goes full circle in 25-year career
Watching Stampede Wrestling when I was growing up, my favorite moment was when Ed Whelan introduced the Cuban Assassin and his hair by Mixmaster. Ed always did have a way with words.
Hans Rasmussen, [email protected]
In The summer at Grand Prix Wrestling The Cuban Assassin was always there. I went everyweek at the North Sydney forum and always loved to see the Cuban Assassin come out! I remember him always fighting The Beast! And he used to have that little white weapon that he would hide in his boot! And I can say that I can’t wait to see The Cuban come to North Sydney again for another Grand Prix tour!
Danny Long from North Sydney, NS
I have a great story to tell you. Back in 1988, when it was in its prime, Stampede Wrestling came to my hometown Nanaimo, BC. At the time Bad News Allen was the champ, and the evil duo of Honky Tonk Wayne and the Cuban Assassin were the tag champs. That night Chris Benoit and his partner Ben Bassarab had a shot at the tag titles. It never surprised me when Honky Tonk got to “The Show” because that night he proved to me he was the ultimate heel. At the show, me and 3 of my best friends had ringside seats. The whole match between the 4 was rather uneventful, except for the fact that Honky Tonk kept yelling expletives at us and we got on our chairs and fingered him and screamed right back at him. The match ended when the Cuban Assassin pulled out a taped-up metal object and suckered Benoit in the throat with it. The Assassin rolled Benoit up with the pin.
The exciting part was still to come. After the match, Honky Tonk continued swearing at us as he was leaving the ring. Once he stopped and was leaving the arena with the Assassin, my friend and I snuck up behind them and kicked them in the ass. Playing along, Honky Tonk and the Assassin proceeded to chase us around the arena waving their tag titles at us!!! I had never been so scared in my life! After a brief chase I ended up diving head first into the penalty box (the boards for hockey were still up). When I mustered up enough courage, I peaked out and the evil duo had left the arena. To this day, my proudest moment is the time I kicked “The Greatest Intercontinental Champion Ever” right in the ass!!
Memories of Cuban Assassin
By REESE CURRIE
From the first day I watched Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling on television as a child, my favorite wrestler was the Cuban Assassin. He was wrestling at its finest. He could sell moves like no other. He could absorb a horrific amount of punishment and keep going. And he could really mount an impressive assault as well. In Grand Prix, the Cuban Assassin was virtually impossible to pin.
The Cuban was able to maintain his heel persona with hardly any speech. Usually his tag team partner did the oratory, but the Cuban’s facial expression was priceless during interviews. Sometimes while the talking was going on, the camera would focus on the Cuban, his mouth in that wide open smile, his wild eyes glittering with the thought of inflicting punishment on his adversaries.
When I started watching, he was one half of the North American tag team champions with Goldie Rogers. Over the next few years, the Cuban’s tag team partners were better matches for him in terms of skill. The Cuban and “No Class” Bobby Bass were great champions, and the action got even better when they were joined in their exploits by Dr. D. David Von Schultz. Though it wasn’t a long-term thing, the combination of Dr. D and the Cuban Assassin was a fantastic tag team.
The Cuban Assassin was great because he never stopped improving as a wrestler. He was always picking up new, devastating offensive moves, but he never used moves that were inappropriate or unrealistic for a man of his size. When I saw Jake Roberts bring the DDT into the WWF, I wondered how long it would be before the Cuban Assassin saw it and had added it to his repetoire. The very next Saturday, I watched as the Cuban Assassin dropped the DDT on an unsuspecting opponent.
The Cuban Assassin had great pride in his craft and always put out a massive effort, no matter how big the crowd was. This brings me to the main “memory” I have to share — the last time I saw the Cuban Assassin live and in person. I was working in an office with an old childhood friend when we learned that a wrestling show featuring our old favourites was coming to a very small town near our city. We decided to take a walk down memory lane and attend the show. (My first question when he brought the show up to me was, “Will the Cuban Assassin be there?”)
We were two of the three adults who showed. There were only two rows filled with kids, and the front row was strangely empty. We learned why as the kids turned around the front row chairs so they could bang them on the floor during the matches. As Bobby Heenan might say, “That’ll give you Excedrin headache number nine.” We had to shout at each other to talk on our way home from the matches, the noise had been that bad.
Another thing that robbed the matches of their prestige was the fact my payment was taken by Big Stephen Petitpas himself. (I handed the money up… way up…) It’s been said that Stu Hart never let the wrestlers do such things as sell tickets because it robs the show of its mystique. He was right.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a WWF or WCW card live in a really small venue, but I have seen both. Many of the wrestlers, with some notable exceptions (especially Ted Dibiase) would look at a small crowd and decide to sleepwalk through their matches.
I could understand why most of them would want to preserve themselves for the bigger crowds, and I could only imagine what the wrestlers would think coming out and seeing this pathetic crowd of about 30 kids, two young businessmen, and the other adult who was pretty much a kid himself. I braced myself for a real sleepwalk, but as it turned out, everyone was giving it a fairly decent effort.
The best moment for me came when the Cuban Assassin and another old timer, Paul Peller I think, faced Stephen Petitpas and a younger wrestler. Suddenly the show caught on fire; we were back in the ’80s as Cuban and Petitpas locked up. Both men were casting weary glances out at the two of us as they went through their moves. It wasn’t long before the Cuban reached into his pockets to bring out…. a Bic pen. I had expected a set of brass knuckles. I thought the Bic was a particularly weak foreign object until I saw it viciously poked into Petitpas’ throat, at which point I had to confess the pen’s potential for violence. (I’d heard the pen is mightier than the sword, and in the Cuban’s hands, one had to wonder.)
Finally, the Cuban apparently decided that the two of us were far too comfortable out in our ringside seats, so he threw Petitpas out of the ring. The fans scattered as Petitpas was led swiftly to the recently vacated seat next to mine. The Cuban took aim at the chair as I too decided that moving might be in order. As I retreated, the Cuban drove Petitpas’ face into the chair with a convincing “whack!” It seemed like most of the chairs in our section were moved out of place as the Cuban selected another chair for a repeat performance. Whack! Cuban stalked back into the ring as Petitpas slumped over the chair, holding onto it like he’d been in a shipwreck and it was a piece of buoyant wreckage. I turned to my buddy who had a huge grin on his face. Now this was like old times.
Of course, the match degenerated from there and went to a no-contest with all four wrestlers fighting in the ring. It was my favorite match of the night because it had my favorite wrestler in it. I couldn’t believe he was still that good after all those years.
Ten or twelve years earlier I remember being a kid standing with my brother, looking at the ring being dismantled following a fantastic match that had featured the Cuban and “Dr. D” David Von Schultz against Petitpas and Leo Burke. The Cuban had taken a bump off the top rope to the middle of the ring, and as they exposed how little padding there was, I commented to my brother who I could sense standing next to me, “How does the Cuban do those moves without getting hurt?” Well, when I turned around, it wasn’t my brother I’d been speaking to, it was the Cuban Assassin! I just about jumped out of my skin, and my brother pulled me back out of the way so Cuban and Dr. D could pass. Dr. D touched his hat brim and gave us a polite greeting as he went by.
I later followed the Cuban in Stampede Wrestling, where he tagged with his greatest partner of all, Gerry Morrow. Those two seemed to communicate telepathically, they were so good together. I rooted for them as hard as I could, and sure enough, they got the tag team gold. It was hard to decide who to cheer for when they had a run against Chris Benoit and Biff Wellington, two other favorites, but I figured I’d go with tradition and laugh like always as the Cuban brutalized them.
One time, the Cuban Assassin played soccer with our high school team in a highly hyped event. I didn’t go to watch this, however, because I would have been disappointed seeing Cuban in any venue in which he didn’t have a pocket full of hardware to grind against his opponent’s forehead.
Angel Acevedo is an inimitable (and indomitable!) performer. His approach to the Cuban Assassin character has been consistent for decades. Some of today’s wrestlers do heel/face turns on a weekly basis and wonder why nobody cares about them. When the Cuban came out, you knew what to expect: the “real” dirtiest player in the game, giving 100% every time. To my knowledge, the Cuban never lost his heat with the crowd. Other wrestlers would come and go, and if they were bad enough, they’d have the Cuban in their gang. In every single heel gang he was a part of, the Cuban Assassin was the MVP.
Reese Currie is from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.