Sunday, April 25, 2021

The French Angel - Maurice Tillet

Maurice Tillet was born in 1903 in the Ural Mountains in Russia to French parents.

As a child, Maurice had a completely normal appearance and Tillet was nicknamed "The Angel" due to his angelic face. In 1917, Tillet and his mother left Russia due to the Revolution and moved to France, where they settled in Reims.

When Tillet was 20, he noticed swelling in his feet, hands, and head, and after visiting a doctor was diagnosed with acromegaly—a condition usually caused by a benign tumour on the pituitary gland, resulting in bone overgrowth and thickening.

He had wanted to become a lawyer, but his acromegaly prevented him from doing so. Tillet served in the French Navy for five years as an engineer.

In February 1937, Tillet met Karl Pojello (Lithuanian Karolis Požėla) in Singapore. Pojello was a professional wrestler, and convinced Tillet to enter the business. Tillet and Pojello moved to Paris for training, and Tillet wrestled for two years in France and England until World War II forced them to leave for the United States in 1939.

In Boston, in 1940, promoter Paul Bowser pushed Tillet as a main eventer, and he became a large draw in the area. As a result of his popularity, Tillet was booked as unstoppable, and was unbeaten for a span of 19 consecutive months. Tillet was the AWA World Heavyweight Champion from May 1940 until May 1942.

Tillet died on September 4, 1954, in Chicago, from cardiovascular disease after hearing of his trainer's passing.

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