For decades, â€œThe Sheikâ€ ruled Big Time Wrestling. Its home was the beautiful, air-conditioned Cobo Arena in Detroit. Before the nationalization of professional wrestling in the 1980s, local organizations hewed regional boundaries, mostly by television market. The Detroit enterprise was an industry leader in pandemonium. Farhat, not only a multiple and long-time champion, was also the owner and CEO. His longtime nemesis was â€œBobo Brazilâ€ aka Houston Harris. They wrestled hundreds of times. In later decades. Farhat worked for various national and international wrestling organizations.
In 1944, Farhat enlisted in the U.S. military. He began his wrestling career in 1950, taking his shtick as a bloodthirsty Syrian aristocrat across state lines, doing shows as far away as Japan. There he became an icon. Known for matches in barbed wire wrapped ring ropes and spewing fire in opponentâ€™s faces, his last match was in Japan in 1998. He is credited for mentoring and influencing the style of many current professional wrestlers.
Some criticism has surfaced regarding his portrayal of Middle Eastern peoples. It is unclear what demographic is portrayed positively in this craft.
An undocumented online memorial to him describes an incident in Texas.
In a Texas arena, during those pre-civil rights era days, black fans were seated in a balcony behind chicken wire. Farhat got to the ring, and saw this seating setup. A very real-life Edward Farhat got very upset, and in full Sheik gimmick, he climbed up 15 feet and ripped down the wire.
He got back in the ring and locked up with a shocked Brazil, who asked Farhat, ‘What the hell did you do?’ Sheik told Brazil that the local promoters were racist @$#$@$#s, and to hell with them. So the ‘hated enemies’ were in a clinch in the corner laughing at what a real-life Edward Farhat had done, and could get away with in the segregated South…simply because he did it as ‘The Sheik.â€™
When died in January 18, 2003, he was survived by his wife Joyce, two sons and four grandchildren. They were married for 53 years. The home they built on N. Williamston Road is now a Bed and Breakfast.
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