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The Syrian Desert
Camel Clutch; noted for excessive use of foreign objects
United States Champion; 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee
The Sheik: Bio
In the world of sports-entertainment, there are Superstars and there are icons…and then there are pioneers. Ed Farhat, known around the world as The Sheik, is one of those men, and for this he is recognized as a WWE Hall of Famer.
Most fans would believe that the extreme, hardcore style of wrestling that is prevalent today was conceptualized in the 1990s by Paul Heyman and ECW. Truthfully, ECW only brought it back to the forefront, as throughout his near 50-year career, The Sheik pioneered, revolutionized and made popular his hardcore style. No object was too foreign and no tactic was too underhanded for The Sheik, who counted sharpened pencils and dangerous fireballs as some of his best offensive weapons. He would finish his opponents with the dreaded Camel Clutch, a hold that was later also used by another Hall of Famer, The Iron Sheik, as well as Farhat's own nephew, Sabu.
Underneath that exterior, however, Farhat had the athletic ability to back up his unique skill set. He was a star high school football player in Michigan, going on to play for the University of Michigan. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, Farhat began his career in sports-entertainment, making light of his Lebanese heritage and rechristening himself as The Sheik. This was the beginning of a journey that would see him cross paths with numerous Hall of Famers over the next half-century.
The Sheik spent a good portion of his career in the Midwest, making his biggest fame in his home state of Michigan. His brutal rivalry with fellow Hall of Famer Bobo Brazil lasted for over three decades, becoming one of the most legendary rivalries in sports-entertainment history. The Sheik also had another historic rivalry with Freddie Blassie, as the two men bled buckets all over Los Angeles in a rivalry that included numerous Steel Cage Matches. In addition to his in-ring work, Sheik was the main promoter of Detroit's Big Time Wrestling in the 1960s and 1970s
While away from Detroit, Sheik had two stints in WWE during the 1960s. In his first run, Sheik and partner Johnny Valentine had a memorable rivalry with Antonino Rocca & Miguel Perez. Later in the 1960s, Sheik returned to begin a heated rivalry with WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino, but despite several attempts in front of several sellout crowds, he was never able to wrest the gold from the popular champion.
Sheik also spent time in Japan and Canada, where he was undefeated for 127 straight matches in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens; several Hall of Famers were victims of The Sheik during this streak, until it was ended in 1974 by the legendary Andre the Giant. In Japan, Sheik both fought and teamed with fellow extreme icon Abdullah the Butcher; the two were a lethal combination when together, engaging in a bloody and memorable war with Terry & Dory Funk in the late 1970s.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Sheik returned to his home state of Michigan, content to pass on his hardcore legacy by training several future Superstars. Among them were nephew Sabu and Rob Van Dam, as well as the son of his former partner, WWE Hall of Famer Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, and fellow U of M alum Scott Steiner. Sabu patterned his in-ring style heavily after that of his uncle, and he and Van Dam were two of the cornerstone talents that brought ECW and the extreme style into the limelight.
The Sheik still continued wrestling occasionally as well, even spending some time in ECW himself. Along with Pat Tanaka, The Sheik had some classic matches in 1994 with Kevin Sullivan and Tazz, who would later become one of his nephew's biggest rivals. Finally, in 1998, The Sheik hung up the boots after nearly 50 years in the ring, wrestling his last match in Japan at the age of 74.
Throughout his career, he was just as silent as he was dangerous. The Sheik never spoke, instead letting his managers (which included fellow Hall of Famer The Grand Wizard) do all of his talking. Sadly, while in the midst of writing his autobiography, Farhat passed away in 2003. When he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 by Sabu and Van Dam, Farhat's plaque was received by his wife, Joyce.
The Sheik was extreme before most fans knew what that term truly meant, and the reckless, rule-breaking style he pioneered will forever be a part of the evolution of sports-entertainment. Ed Farhat's legacy will always live on through that contribution, as well as the men has trained for battle in the squared circle; but now, his legacy will forever be memorialized as part of the WWE Hall of Fame.