Malcolm Cormier was the forgotten Cormier brother, his fame never coming close to his brothers, The Beast, Rudy Kay, Leo Burke, and Bobby Kay. With his passing on Tuesday, August 9, 2011, at the age of 74, it’s important to note his contributions to the wrestling business.
Most fans would be familiar with Malcolm as referee Mel Turnbow in Canada’s Atlantic provinces.
Many don’t know that he wrestled too, starting a little in the late ’50s around New Brunswick with the local boys.
“I knew him well,” said Emile Dupre. “As a matter of fact, he wrestled for my outfit, then he went to Boston. Cripes, I even wrestled him a few times.”
In Boston in the early 1960s, Malcolm Cormier wrestled under his real name, but never really achieved much success — though he was the first of the Cormier brothers to try pro wrestling.
“He had some talent, but not like the other guys,” explained Dupre. “Then he got married, had kids, and that was it. Travelling was out of the picture for him.”
Back in New Brunswick, Cormier worked as a bricklayer and a guard at the Provincial Jail in Dorchester until his retirement.
As a referee, he was able to work occasionally for Dupre, but more often for his brothers for the Maritimes promotion (Eastern Sports Association, International Wrestling) that they ran with Al Zinck in the 1970s.
“He was only interested in refereeing,” said Zinck, who said that initially he refereed as Malcolm Cormier, but that was changed because so many people made the immediate connection with the brothers.
“That was the name that was dreamed up when he first came in. They decided not to use the name Cormier,” said Zinck.
As a referee, “he was very good,” added Zinck, “Malcolm was about the best. He acted more like a referee” and didn’t try to overshadow the stars. As well, Malcolm did a few trips to Montreal to referee for the Rougeaus’ promotion.
The last months of his life were tough, said his cousin, Leo Cormier, who used to work in a lumber camp with Malcolm. “He had a problem staying on his feet and would fall a lot, his wife could not pick him up so he was in a home, but for the last month or so he was in the hospital.”
Having battled diabetes and Alzheimer’s, Malcolm Cormier died August 9, 2011 at the Dr. Georges L. Dumont University Center. He is survived by his wife Yolande (LeBlanc) Cormier, four daughters, Murielle, Francine, Suzanne and Charline, three sons, Alexis, Edmond and Jean, as well as 10 grandchildren, three great grandchildren.
As for his own brothers and sisters, the surviving members include sisters Dorice, Aline and Marguerite, and brothers Rolando, Leonce (Leo Burke) and Romeo (Bobby Kay). He was predeceased by a granddaughter Aleisha (2005), one sister Bertha and by five brothers Yvon (The Beast), Alyre, Gerald, Francis and Jean-Louis (Rudy Kay).
Visitation will be held at Dupuis Funeral Home on Thursday, August 11 from 7 to 9 pm. Funeral mass will be held at Saint Thomas de Memramcook church, St-Joseph on Friday, August 12 at 2:00 pm. Arrangements are in the care of Dupuis Funeral Home, Memramcook. www.dupuisfuneralhome.ca
Greg Oliver spent a lovely summer afternoon hanging out at Roland Cormier’s home back in 2006, listening to stories from Leo Burke, Rudy Kay, Hubert Gallant and Bob Leonard — still one of his favourite wrestling-related memories ever.