Wrestling fans know Abdullah the Butcher as the most extreme independent-circuit wrestler, a 400- pound hairless blob of muscle and fat whose presence at a match guarantees gouts of blood from at least one wrestler and possibly both. His weapon of choice is the fork, but he improvises when cornered. In Japan, where Abdullah is a beloved figure who visits retirement homes to cheer up the elderly, two skeptics once spotted him in a hotel lobby and remarked loudly that his shows were fake. Without hesitation, Abdullah shattered a glass against his scalp, then picked out the shards, produced a needle and thread, and stitched himself up.
Dubbed “wrestling’s Methuselah” by The New York Times, Abdullah has fought for the past 50 years as “the Madman from the Sudan,” a billing his opponents say is at least half true. Born Larry Shreve in Windsor, Ontario, 71 years ago, he has never visited the Sudan. But some of his wrestling colleagues—they would say victims—claim his madness is genuine, and needs to be stopped. When the WWE Hall of Fame inducted Abdullah last year, Hulk Hogan and “Superstar” Billy Graham, two venerable masters of the mat, objected on the grounds that Abdullah had supposedly cut opponents without their permission, drawing blood for the audience’s entertainment. “Abdullah really is obsessed with cutting people,” says Devon Nicholson, 29, a 265-pound fellow Canadian who wrestled Abdullah and is now suing him for alleged injury in the ring. (The suit is still in its early stages; Abdullah denies the charges.) “He is like a monster movie come to life.”