Corsica Joe and Sara Lee may very well be wrestling’s most long-standing couple. Joe and Lee recently celebrated 43 years of marriage last month.
Born Francois Miquet in Bonbillett, France, on January 17, 1920; Joe played soccer until he was eighteen, at which time he became interested in boxing.
“I boxed for two years, from ’38 until the war started,” Joe said. “I won five or six matches by knockout. In the last match, I hit a guy and his eye popped out of socket. It just laid down against his cheek. I got so scared. I said, ‘No more boxing for me.'”
After an introduction to amateur wrestling, Joe spent six years in the French Artillery. In January 1946, Joe received his discharge and returned to school. However, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Felix Miquet, and become a professional wrestler.
“I trained for two years in France,” stated Joe. “They stretched me from one end to the other.”
Then in 1948, Joe went to Canada to work for Paul and Bob Lortie where he held the Canadian Junior Heavyweight title for two years before heading to New York to work for Toots Mondt, Rudy Miller and Milo Steinborn. From there, he moved to Calgary to work for Stu Hart. Joe eventually returned to France for a few years until he ventured back to the U.S. and formed a tag team with Jean Louis Roy in Florida.
“We got along pretty good, so we decided to team up. Nobody could pronounce my name, so I said, ‘Let’s go as Corsica Joe and Corsica Jean.'”
Corsica Joe and Corsica Jean, also known as the Corsica Brothers, wrestled throughout the U.S. from 1957 to the early 1960s. It was during this time Lee and Joe met one another.
Born Sarah Ray in Gainesboro, Tennessee, on November 19, 1931, Lee moved to Nashville and started work at age 14 as a waitress at the Tick-Tock Restaurant.
“I was running the Tick-Tock Restaurant in Nashville when I met Joe,” Lee recalled. “The wrestling office was downtown near where I worked and that’s how we got started. We’ve had a good life together and I still love him a lot.”
When asked if it was love at first sight, Joe commented, “maybe, I guess…I did good to keep Sara straight.”
Jerry Jarrett, co-founder of TNA, was working for promoters Nick Gulas and Roy Welch during the Corsica Brothers run in Tennessee.
“My early memories of Joe was as a tag team with his brother,” Jarrett told SLAM! Wrestling. “They were a rough and rugged team. Joe helped me with the lesson of respect. I had been wrestling less than a year when I was booked against Joe in Memphis at the old Ellis Auditorium. I was a huge fan of Jackie Fargo. Jackie would entertain the fans with his antics before the match got serious. One such antic was to kick his opponent in the butt. I thought this was a cute move, so I tried it in my match with Joe. Joe, however, did not think it was so funny and I found myself in the most awkward position of having my own butt pressed against my face. After the match, I told Joe that I did not mean to disrespect him and that I had seen Jackie Fargo do the same thing. Joe replied, ‘You’re not Jackie Fargo. When you wrestle as long and draw as much money, you can kick my ass, not before.’
“I have a warm spot in my heart for Sarah, because she always looked after my mother and was so loyal for so many years,” continued Jarrett. “My first memory of Sarah was as a tough female wrestler. Sarah and Cora Combs wrestled each other as rough as any men of that era and that is really saying something because the men worked very stiff in those days.”
Lee’s first match was the result of Nick Gulas being short a female for a mixed tag match. With no substitute readily available, Gulas booked Lee for the match.
“It was me and another wrestler against Bob Boyer and Cora Combs,” Lee said. “I remember Bob Boyer picking me up and throwing me across the ring. I got the biggest mat burn there ever was. I didn’t know nothin’ when I got there because I never had any real training. I learned everything in the ring.”
Both Joe and Lee retired from in ring action in the 1970s, but have remained an active part of the business often working the front door at the Nashville Fairgrounds in the past for Bert Prentice. TNA fans might remember seeing Sarah “The Ticket Lady” beating up on the Dupps during the Dupp Cup hardcore matches along with other various segments.
Like Jarrett, Prentice has a soft spot for Joe and Lee. “My history goes back more than the ticket window,” said Prentice. “I’ve wrestled Sarah many times — and she always won!”
Jarrett gave this thoughts on Joe and Sarah’s legacy. “I’d say Joe and Sarah will be remembered for their loyalty…loyalty to each other for so many years and loyalty to their friends. Seldom will one have such friends in life.”
Reflecting on their career and life together, Lee said, “Joe and I made a lot of friends in the wrestling business. We wouldn’t trade it for anything and wish we could do it all over again.”
Joe and Lee currently reside in Old Hickory, Tennessee, where they are happily retired and attend the occasional wrestling show in the Nashville area.