The news of Edouard Carpentier’s recent passing was a sad event for all who knew him.
He was one of the all-time greats of the mat, his wrestling style was well received by his thousands of fans wherever he would appear.
His great strength, muscularity, and his solid wrestling ability mixed with gymnastic skills made him a standout in the world of pro wrestling.
I had the pleasure to shoot a number of Carpentier’s matches that he had in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in the mid 1960s.
He would wrestle opponents that would test all his abilities: Whipper Billy Watson, Gene Kiniski, Dick ‘The Bulldog’ Brower, and .Stan Stasiak
Two appearances that Carpentier made in Toronto vividly stay in my memory.
The first happened at the Gardens. Carpentier had been billed to wrestle in the main event, however after a first intermission, the ringside announcer told all in attendance that “The Flying Frenchman” would be unable to wrestle due to an injury he sustained two days earlier in Brampton, Ontario, during a match with veteran Fred Atkins.
The fans, on hearing that Edward could not compete, accepted the news without any audible vocal displeasure.
Then to everyone’s surprise — and obvious approval — Carpentier made his way up the steps to the ramp that leads to the ring.
Carpentier was on crutches and in a great deal of pain, as the injury that he sustained was to his left knee. However this great competitor did not want to disappoint all his fans that had come to the Gardens to see him wrestle.
The other memory that I cherish began in the ring at the Gardens, with a main event NWA World title match between champion Gene Kiniski and Carpentier.
I was determined to get as close as possible to the wrestlers, in order to get a picture of them standing face to face. Just prior to the start of their match, both wrestlers and referee Tiger Tasker obliged, and I got the picture that I wanted so much.
Several weeks later Carpentier was billed to appear at the Gardens in another main event, and this photographer had an 8×10 print of the Carpentier-Kiniski face-to-face photo that I wanted to be able to present to Edouard personally.
I walked into Frank Tunney’s wrestling office, photo in hand, hopeful that Carpentier would be in the office at this time.
My hopes were rewarded, and with great pride I handed the picture to Carpentier. He was very pleased, and offered to pay me for it.
“No way, Edouard, this was my great pleasure.”
That experience was one of finest highlights for me in all the years that I covered pro wrestling.
- Nov. 1, 2010: Edouard Carpentier dead at 84
- Nov. 3, 2010: Carpentier’s peers reflect on his highs and lows