Only in the wild world of professional wrestling could someone like Abdullah the Butcher become a huge drawing card. Known for his blood-filled matches, Shreeve was one of the originators of hardcore wrestling.
Real Name: Lawrence Shreeve
Stats: 6′ 0″ 360 lbs.
Born: January 11, 1941
Professional wrestling has been home to some of the toughest, most sadistic men in the world due to its violent nature. However, one man stands out from the rest with his sheer violence, insanity, and chaos: the “Madman from the Sudan,” Abdullah the Butcher. For five decades, Abdullah terrorized opponents with his primitive, barbaric style. He never became a scientific wrestler and always stuck to his simple, brutal ways, but this didn’t stop him from drawing blood from almost every opponent he faced on every continent. The Butcher influenced generations of brawlers with his worldwide bookings, cementing his name in the history of professional wrestling using the flowing blood of his opponents as ink.
Abdullah’s crimson-soaked feuds with Sheik, The Destroyer, Shohei Baba, Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Harley Race, Terry & Dory Funk, Bobo Brazil, Carlos Colon, Sting, and Cactus Jack, among countless others, earned him a reputation of sadism. He didn’t care much about fans, fame, championships, or glory during his career. Instead, he thrived on being known as the most violent, unpredictable, and feared wrestler in the world. These were the driving forces behind The Butcher’s career, along with the almighty dollar. Despite using a handful of unchanging moves during his matches and showing a total disregard for the safety of both himself and his opponents, Abdullah used his fork (and hidden blade) to carve out a unique spot for himself in the annals of professional wrestling history.
Lawrence Shreeve, known to the world as Abdullah the Butcher, wasn’t always the savage lunatic he portrayed in the ring. Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on January 11, 1941, Shreeve began his wrestling career in 1958 on the Canadian independent circuit. After rebranding himself as Abdullah the Butcher and gaining experience in Canada, he traveled the world like few others, never staying in one territory for too long.
Abdullah quickly became one of pro wrestling’s premier villains, thanks to his bloodthirsty Arabian gimmick and his extremely violent style. He was often hired as a hitman by desperate heels looking to destroy a particular territory’s top babyface, but he also feuded with many fellow villains, a rarity in those days. His battles with “Maniac” Mark Lewin and the Sheik were particularly brutal and lasted for years, as did their semi-frequent tag team.
Abdullah was a prime star and box-office draw for promoters in the NWA and AWA territories throughout the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and beyond. He traveled extensively throughout the United States, Japan, Puerto Rico, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, and his homeland of Canada.
Abdullah the Butcher, alongside wrestling legends like Andre the Giant, Bruiser Brody, and Stan Hansen, was an international superstar during a time when wrestling was highly regionalized. By portraying himself as the most violent and insane wrestler in promotions worldwide, Abdullah had a profound influence on future brawlers in countries all over the globe. This is a feat that very few wrestling legends can claim. Furthermore, he accomplished this without ever giving a traditional interview in the countries he performed in, whether it be in English, Japanese or Spanish. Instead, his constant blood-letting and entourage of handlers, such as Eddie Creatchman, The Great Mephisto, J.J. Dillon, Gary Hart, and Cactus Jack, spoke volumes on Abdullah’s behalf. His language was one of unpredictable and straightforward ultra-violence, which transcended any dialect. While Abdullah’s primary weapon was a karate-thrust to the throat, which he delivered dozens of times throughout his matches, he also possessed a surprisingly swift and accurate dropkick and a traditional finisher, the Flying Elbow Drop. His pointed-toe boots were also a key weapon, adopted by other “Arab” wrestlers. However, Abdullah’s focus was never on wrestling skill or a wide variety of moves. Instead, it was on creating utter mayhem, terror, and shocking the fans.
Despite his frequent travels between territories, Abdullah the Butcher still managed to win several championships throughout his career. He won the NWA Canadian Tag Team title on October 23, 1967, with Dr. Jerry Graham, the IWA International Heavyweight championship three times between 1969 and 1971, and the NWA North American Heavyweight (Calgary) title four times between 1970 and 1973. Abdullah also held the NWF Heavyweight title twice, defeating Ernie Ladd and Victor Rivera for his two National Wrestling Federation championships. Abdullah’s most notable championship win was his PWF Heavyweight title reign in All Japan Pro Wrestling under Shohei “Giant” Baba, which he won by defeating Billy Robinson in 1978. He also won several important championships in Puerto Rico during the early 1980s, such as the Puerto Rican Heavyweight title, the Caribbean Heavyweight title (three times), and the WWC Universal Heavyweight championship in 1982.
In the United States, Abdullah won the Texas Brass Knuckles championship in 1986 by defeating The Great Kabuki while competing in World Class Championship Wrestling. He also won the Canadian International Heavyweight title in 1987, almost 30 years after his debut. In 1996, he teamed with Benkei Daikokuboh to win the T.W.A. Tag Team championship.
Abdullah the Butcher has been inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (1996), the WWE Hall of Fame (2011), and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (2019). He officially retired from professional wrestling in 2019 after a career that spanned five decades.