Tag Archives: Maurice Tillet

Gustafson, Thesz ‘Rassle’ To A Draw

Seattle Star – September 11, 1945

Corporal Louie Thesz of Fort Lewis and Clifton Gustafson of Gonvick, Minn., tugged and mauled each other thru 60 minutes of exciting action to a no-fall draw in the main event of the State Athletic Club card at the Civic Auditorium last night.

It was easily the finest mat display since the revival of the game locally and one of the best goes ever unleashed here.

There were thrills galore as these two undefeated boys “shot the works.” On one occasion, Thesz let go with his “flying tackle” but Gustafson finally squirmed away. On another sortie, the Swedish kid tied up the Hungarian with a headlock, but he managed to weather the storm session.

For some strange reason, “The Angel” appears to draw the bobby sox crowd a la Frank Sinatra. Anyway, the ugly Frenchman took a pair of falls from Chief Little Wolf in the semi-windup. He used the “bear hug.” The Redskin got the middle fall with a top body press.

Albert Mills, the Englishman, came from behind to win from Jim Wright of Texas in the special event. Wright scored first with a “strangle-headlock.” Mills tied the score with a toehold and got the decisive fall when Referee Nick Zvolis awarded him a foul on a strangle.

Rube Wright, Jim’s brother, registered in the opener by fastening Jim Clark of St. Joseph, Mo., with a reverse toehold in 17 minutes.

The Angel

Time – February 5, 1940

Fortnight ago a bandy-legged Billiken with a massive gargoyle head, a nose like a Bartlett pear, ham hands and fiddle-case feet, popped out of Central Park woods in Manhattan and loped off around the reservoir in a tiger-cat trot. Manhattanites who brisk around the reservoir in wintry weather are generally game guys, but one gander at this interloper was enough to send some skedaddling.

Readers of LIFE, however, recognized him at a glance. He was the Angel, an awesome, Continental wrestler introduced pictorially to the U. S. by LIFE last September, while he was still being billed in England as “that ferocious monstrosity, not a human being, but 20 stone of brutality.” The Angel is now in the U. S. to try his particular brand of might & mayhem in the no-holts-barred roughhouse that passes in the U. S. for wrestling.

Last week in Boston, the 280-lb. Angel took on his first comer, Luigi Bacigalupi, 275-lbs. ringside. In the Boston Arena, 7,000 wrestling fans (twice the usual number) stood on their chairs as the Angel trod up the aisle. In the ring, Bacigalupi whanged the Angel’s cowcatcher jaw with a barrage of forearm wallops. The Angel only growled, waded in, got a headlock, a full nelson, a head scissors, an armlock, and then the hold the fans were waiting for —his touted bear hug. He simply crooked his cordwood arms around Luigi’s vast circumference, hooked his stubby broomstick fingers behind, squeezed. Bacigalupi wheezed and bellowed while his breath lasted, then the Angel grabbed him with an inside crotch & lift, slammed him to the mat and pinned him for fall No. 1 in just short of six minutes. Fall No. 2 took only 2:12. Twenty minutes later handlers carried Luigi off, done in for at least two weeks.

With his face & form, if the Angel keeps on winning he stands to be the biggest box-office draw in wrestling since Gus Sonnenberg ten years ago showed the way to the current, lucrative stomp-&-tromp, body-slam, flying-tackle technique.

The Angel is actually Maurice Tillet, born of French parents in the Russian Urals 35 years ago. His mother, who has always called him Angel (Ange), he says is now a professor of languages in a girls’ college at Rheims. Something went wrong with Maurice’s glandular system (probably acromegaly) when he was very young, but his mother still called him Ange. Maurice turned out to be a good athlete, was once a circus strong man, played on the All-France rugby team against England, once met George V after a match. He served in the French Navy, was mustered out in Singapore a few years ago and, so the story goes, stayed there to shoot tigers.

At any rate, a touring, Lithuanian-born U. S. wrestler named Carl Pojello met him in Singapore in 1936 in Le Laurier bar. One handshake was enough for Pojello. He took the Angel to Paris, taught him all he knew about the U. S. catch-as-catch-can, or British “all-in,” wrestling business. Since then, in 140 matches in six countries, according to uncontradicted reports, the Angel has been unbeatable.

In the U. S., Manager Pojello (still a wrestler himself at 42) wisely avoided the more hippodromic Manhattan wrestling syndicates (Jack Pfeffer’s “Bums,” etc.), picked up with Boston’s Paul Bowser. Bowser, now the Angel’s matchmaker, recognizes one Steve Casey as U. S. champion, claiming for this crown an unbroken line of descent all the way back to Frank Gotch, who retired as champion in 1913. Other current “recognized” U. S. champions: Veteran Jim Londos (N. Y., Pa., & Calif.) ; Bronko Nagurski and/or Bobby Bruns (Midwest); Everett Marshall (Rocky Mts.). None of these prize beeves has yet offered the Angel a bout, but if he mops up the rest of the herd, the champs may have to face him or quit.

Behind the massive, masklike face that looks like something out of a Coney Island mirror, the Angel is not a bad egg. Well-manicured and groomed, his pilgarlic pate usually covered in public with a beret, he reads authors such as Paul Bourget (Le Disciple), speaks hoarse but genteel French and smatterings of four other tongues, avoids crowds when he can.

He eats five times a day, with big helpings of fruit in between. Favorite fruit: bananas; next: pears, which he gobbles up the way others do grapes. Of U. S. wrestling tactics, he has not yet run the full gamut, will not venture a full critique. Asked, however, how the slugging Bacigalupi welcome in Boston struck him, he replied blandly: “Je ne suis pas une jeune fille” (approximately: “I’m no lily”).

Angel Defeats Luttrall in Mat Main

The San Antonio Light – August 1, 1940
By Doc Shaw

Wrestling Results
Maurice “The Angel” Tillet won from Cowboy Luttrall.
Ede Virag defeated Hank Metheney.
Wee Willie Davis beat Pat Fraley.
Nick Elitch drew with Len Macalose.

M. Maurice “The Angel” Tillet, wrestling’s latest and most hideous oddity, defeated Cowboy Luttrall in straight falls in the main event of Harry Coffman’s wrestling show at the Sunken Garden Wednesday night.

The Angel, 36 years old and only 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, weighs 276 pounds and is declared by anthropologists to be the world’s strongest man.  With the body of a great ape and a head of a gargoyle he uses only power holds to squeeze his victims out of the picture.

Slaps Him Around

Luttrall tried out his hoary tape technic and when it failed to click tried an assortment of socks.  Tillet came back with an open-handed slap that dropped the Cowboy out of the ring on his whiskers.  Finally at 14:35, the Angel nailed his opponent with a terrific bear hug and finished him off with a smother.

The final fall was more of the same with Luttrall all through at 6:15 under the pressure of another bear hug.

Ede Virag, the classy Hungarian, was unable to show his usual nifty work in his match with Hank Metheney.  Metheney, unable to match holds, started to mix it up at the gong and had to be socked loose from several verboten holds when he refused to break.

After repeated warnings Hank was disqualified when he continued to rub Ede’s eyes in the ropes.

Davis Beats Fraley

Wee Willie Davis, the alley brawler, defeated popular Pat Fraley in the second preliminary.  Pat took on a lot of weight but turned in a creditable performance.  Pat was eliminated at 23:40 when Willie swished him all over the place in a rolling headlock.

Nick Elitch and Len Macaluso stole the show with their 20-minute draw in the opener.  Fast as a couple of wildcats, these two babies gave it the works while the crowd screamed their approval.

There were 1260 paid customers at the matches, with 117 pass-holders.  The net “gate” was $906.18.

Angel Measured

Time – March 4, 1940

M. Maurice Tillet is an amiable Frenchman who recently journeyed to the U. S. to engage in wrestling bouts. His nickname is “The Angel.” Much excited by photographs of his monstrous head were four enterprising young anthropologists at Harvard, Carlton Stevens Coon, Hallam Leonard Movius Jr., Carl Coleman Seltzer and William Herbert Sheldon Jr. They wanted to measure it. Last week they announced that they had indeed taken the Angel’s measurements.

M. Tillet is the victim (or, as a wrestler, the beneficiary) of pituitary overdevelopment, resulting in acromegaly—enlargement of the face and jaws. The Harvardmen X-rayed his head, found the sella turcica, which houses the pituitary, considerably enlarged. They measured the tremendous, coffin-shaped face, found it 7.16 inches wide, 7.05 inches long from nose-bridge to jaw-point. They also noted huge protuberances over the eyebrows and at the back of the head, an elevation like a ridgepole from front to back of the cranium.

It seemed likely that pituitary excess set in after the Angel’s long bones had stopped growing, otherwise he might have been a giant. His overdevelopment is lateral. Though just under 5 ft. 10 in. tall, he weighs 276 Ibs. One investigator declared: “The collar bones and rib cage are the most massive I have ever seen. . . . The tremendous nuchal [back-of-the-neck] musculature is quite beyond anything I have ever conceived.”

The anthropologists found M. Tillet “intelligent, very appealing, kindly and gentle.” In short, they liked him. At an afternoon party, he refused sherry and cigarets, took tea and cookies. Like most French commoners, he has a profound respect for the learned professions. He asked Earnest Albert Hooton, famed bellwether of Harvard anthropology, for a signed photograph. Hooton complied, and received from the Angel an elegant letter of thanks, in French, with practically no spelling mistakes.

Last week, back in his garish world of grab-grunt-&-grimace, M. Tillet wrestled in Washington against one Alan Eustace. Five hundred would-be spectators were turned away from the small arena and, as usual, the Angel won, in 10 1⁄2 minutes.

Cliff Gustafson, Lou Thesz In No-Fall Draw

Seattle Post-Intelligencer – September 11, 1945

Cliff Gustafson, the burly young man from Gonvick, Minn., and Cpl. Louis Thesz, the thick-necked and also youthful grunter and groaner from Fort Lewis, did their swinging and sweating without a result last night at the Civic Auditorium. The two grappling pachyderms did their stuff cleanly and stuck mainly to classic holds, surprising the promoters by not “stinking the jernt out.”

Both Gustafson and Thesz are students of old maestros like Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Dan (The Lion) Koloff. They went through a pretty fair repertoire from wristlocks to toe holds last night without appreciably paining each other or the audience.

Other events were:

Rube Wright, Houston, Tex., took one fall from Jim Clark, St. Joseph, Mo., in 17 minutes; Albert (Lawd) Mills, London, England, took the odd fall from Jim Wright, Houston, Tex.; Maurice (The Angel) Tillet, France, bear-hugged Chief Little Wolf to score, two falls to Little Wolf’s one.

Strong Man Tillet Willing to Prove It

The Milwaukee Journal – April 25, 1940

Maurice Tillet, the Angel, will submit to a series of tests at the YMCA Friday morning to prove he really is a strong man.

Through Promoter Paul Paloski, the French wrestler accepted Thursday the challenge which appeared Wednesday in the column of R. G. Lynch, sports editor of The Journal.  In that article it was pointed out that many Milwaukeeans who had seen Tillet throw Gus Sonnenberg were doubtful of the Angel’s strength.

Albert Olsen, physical director of the YMCA, agreed Thursday to put Tillet through his paces.  He did not know just what test he would use but said that he would work a program overnight.

Tillet could not come to Milwaukee until Friday morning because he was scheduled to wrestle in Chicago Thursday night and arrived there late Thursday from Boston, where he wrestled Wednesday night.