Canadian wrestling legend Emile Dupré was a father, a mentor — and one heck of a boss | CBC Radio

Canadian wrestling legend Emile Dupré was a father, a mentor — and one heck of a boss | CBC Radio

As It Happens

Pro wrestler Emile Dupré died at 86 on Sunday. He was the biggest wrestler to come out of Atlantic Canada. His son, René Dupré, went on to become a pro wrestler too. He says his dad taught him the value of a dollar, and never took advantage of the wrestlers he helped train.

‘The Golden Boy’ and ‘The Godfather of Atlantic Canadian wrestling’ dies at 86

Keena Alwahaidi · CBC Radio


Three men posing against a dim backdrop

René Dupré, centre, with brother Jeff Dupré, left, and father Emile Dupré, right. (Submitted by René Dupré)

When you’re a pro wrestler, it’s important to know that there are “no days off,” says René Dupré. It’s a lesson his legendary father Emile Dupré taught him well.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s your birthday, or your anniversary, or Christmas or New Year’s,” René said. “He taught me a strong work ethic.” 

Emile Dupré — one of the biggest wrestlers to come out of the Maritimes — died on Sunday at the age of 86.

Born in Shediac, N.B., as Emile Goguen, he began training in professional wrestling in the mid ’50s.

In 1977, he created Grand Prix Wrestling, a professional wrestling promotion. He was also known for wrestling with ring legends like Killer Kowalski and Dusty Rhodes. 

His influence eventually led his son René to become a pro-wrestling star in his own right. In 2003, he became the first teenager to win a title in the WWE.

Emile, who was nicknamed “Golden Boy” for his good looks, had a myriad of lessons to share about the wrestling industry, René says, including that you have to “sacrifice a lot” to become a pro.

“It’s not about how much money you make; it’s about how you save,” René said. “Thanks to him, I invested my money wisely, and I’ve done OK for myself. Whereas other guys I know, not so much. 

“If it wasn’t for him, I would’ve maybe squandered or done stupid things financially.” 

An inspiration to others

Ron Hutchinson, a.k.a The Masked Thunderbolt, wrestled for Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling in the ’80s. At the time, Emile was working as a promoter.

Emile was great to work for, he says, “because he had been through it himself.”

“He was definitely hands-on, definitely knew what was going on at all times,” Hutchinson told As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

“There’s a difference between a boss that has never done what you’re doing, but expects you to do things knowing full well it may not be possible to do.

“But he knew what could be done…. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. Really.” 

LISTEN | Ron Hutchinson on working for Emile Dupré:

As It Happens5:45Remembering Emile Dupré, the legendary Maritime wrestler

Emile loved wrestling and training others in the industry — but one thing he loved most was the East Coast, his son said. 

He said his father “always wanted to come home to the Maritimes,” where he eventually gave many New Brunswick wrestlers their start — including Jean-Louis Cormier, a.k.a. Rudy Kay, and Yvon Cormier, a.k.a. The Beast.

René says his dad never took cuts from wrestlers he trained who moved on to big bookings. 

“A lot of other promoters might have taken something from them,” he said. “But he never charged them a dime. And that’s a big deal in the wrestling business.” 

Two men posing outside

Former wrestler Ron Hutchinson, left, with Emile Dupré. (Submitted by Ron Hutchinson)

Eric Doucet, a retired professional wrestler who was mentored by Emile Dupré, agrees that Emile wasn’t in the industry for the money. For him, it was about passing along all that he knew to people willing to learn. 

“He didn’t train for money,” he told Information Morning – Moncton. “He did it because he wanted to pass on the knowledge of what he learned over the decades of working with the best talent in the world. 

“You had André the Giant here, had the Macho Man, Ric Flair — all those guys. You had the biggest names in the world, so he just loved to pass that knowledge on and tell stories.” 

LISTEN | Eric Doucet on his mentor, Emile Dupré:

Information Morning – Moncton6:35Remembering Shediac’s legendary wrestler and promoter Emile Dupré

‘Godfather of Atlantic Canadian wrestling’

For a time, Emile was the only promoter in Atlantic Canada, often known as the “Godfather of Atlantic Canadian wrestling,” Hutchinson said.

“There was nobody that could touch him,” he said. “When you think of wrestling in Atlantic Canada, you think of Emile Dupré.” 

Man pictured with wrestling gear on

Ron Hutchinson, a.k.a The Masked Thunderbolt. (Submitted by Ron Hutchinson)

Hutchinson said Emile did a good job building “up his own local status” in Eastern Canada, bringing in big wrestlers for his promotion from the United States, and even as far as Japan. 

“The people gravitated to go to the arenas and see their local hero,” he said. 


Keena Alwahaidi is a reporter and associate producer for CBC. She’s interested in news, arts/culture and human interest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @keenaalwahaidi

    Interview with Ron Hutchison produced by Chris Trowbridge


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