June 4, 2013 1:28 pm
Updated: August 2, 2013 1:43 pm

Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling is reborn in the Maritimes

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For years Atlantic Grand Prix Wresting was a staple in arenas all across the Maritimes. Now wrestling fans have reason to rejoice, Grand Prix is born again in Cocagne New Brunswick.

Wrestlers from all over the globe have landed in the small town to help a father and son tag team restore Grand Prix Wrestling. Emile Dupré, 76, is heading up the show he originally launched 40 years ago.

“They call me the godfather of Grand Prix Wrestling,” said the Shediac native.

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Now, he’s hoping to relight the torch and pass it on to his son, René Dupré.

“One of my dreams growing up was to bring back my father’s old promotion and try to get back on television just like it used to be,” said René.

Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling was a staple across the Maritimes after it started in  in New Brunswick in the early 1970s.

In it’s prime, the organization hosted fights seven nights a week and drew in thousands of spectators for each bout. Emile says it took off like wildfire.

“If there was an arena and there was a population there we’d go.”

Back in the good old days, he says spectators were captivated by the cast of colorful characters.

“We remember Killer Karl Krup, the Cuban Assassin, the Beast… Sweet Daddy Siki and many, many others you know we must have had about 500 wrestlers that came through here.”

Some of those wrestlers went on to become big names on the pro-wrestling circuit. René was one of them. He went on to a five year career with the WWE in the United States. Now, he and his dad are trying to capitalize on that old school popularity.

The original Atlantic Grand Prix went down for the count in the early 1990s.

This summer’s roster includes an impressive host of wrestlers from Europe, Japan, New York and western Canada that will be touring the Maritimes.

The heroes and heels may not be quite as colourful as they once were, but René says that wrestling has evolved since his dad’s era. “I think you get a better athlete in this day and age.”

Some things never change, the women and the midget wrestlers still draw the loudest cheers.

Wrester, Erin Angel landed in Cocagne from Southampton, England.

“Everywhere we go the reception we have from people they love that it’s come back. and to be part of that it feels pretty special.”

Heather Smith, 70, is huge fan from way back. She could barely contain her excitement at Monday night’s bout.

“I like to get excited, if you have frustration you get some of it out of ya,” said Smith, “I just really enjoy it.”

Whether or not this revival survives remains to be seen. Only about 250 people came out for Monday night’s performance. But they cheered with the spirit of thousands.

© 2013 Shaw Media

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