NEWPORT–The members of the Newport Rotary Club had special visitor at their weekly meeting yesterday.
Legendary wrestler and promoter Paul "The Butcher" Vachon was Tuesday's guest, and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Famer entertained the crowd with stories about his wrestling past, his family and his ties to the local community.
Paul grew up in Dunkin, Quebec, which lies just over the Canadian border to the north of Newport area, more specifically on route 243, which connects to Vermont Highway 105.
He released a book this year entitled "Wrestling With the Past; Life in and out of the Ring", and many of his stories on Tuesday came from the publication.
At the meeting, his speech opened with the story of the Hangman, a hold in professional wrestling where a wrestler locks his hands under his opponents head and "hangs" him while the grapplers are back-to-back and the one applying the hold leans forward.
From there, the seventy-five year-old danced seamlessly from topic to topic.
He showed a poster from one of the three movies he appeared in while in India, and another from a documentary about his sister Vivian Vachon entitled "Wrestling Queen."
He fondly remembered winning the World Tag Team Championship Titles with his brother Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon, and also of being a key part in bringing Andre´ the Giant to North America.
What really sparked the crowd was when he talked about his wrestling promotion Grand Prix Wrestling, which broadcast a show on Channel Seven out of Sherbrooke on Sundays at 11:00 in French.
He later added a broadcast in English
Interesting note, before Grand Prix, the station did not start their broadcast day until 11:30.
Also, Paul's show was the most watched program in that time slot from coast-to-coast in Canada, and was extremely popular in border states across America.
Many of those in attendance remembered the program, and asked about some of the wrestling greats like Killer Kowalski and Bobo Brazil, whom Vachon knew and worked with over the years.
When he wrapped up his wrestling career, he married his wife Dee, and the couple currently reside here in Newport.
Paul wrote a three-book anthology called "When Wrestling Was Real" before he penned his latest literary offering.
If you are interested in reading the book, which has just been released with a new cover featuring a shot of "The Butcher" in full ring attire, it is available on Amazon in paperback ($19.99) or for the Kindle ($9.99).
These days Paul keeps busy going on the fair circuit in late summer and dons the national colors of Canada to play Santa Claus at the Berlin Mall in the winter.
So if you take your kids to see Santa, and the youngsters are on the naughty list, look out for the return of the Hangman.