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Memphis Wrestling legend Corsica Joe passes away

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Jerry Jarrett recalls early in his wrestling career that in his haste to emulate his hero, Jackie Fargo, he adopted several of the mannerisms and maneuvers made famous by the Fabulous One with little regard to whom he was working with the ring. Young Jarrett learned a valuable lesson one night in the ring with Corsica Joe (Francois Miquet), a veteran former headliner in the territory who was winding down his career just as the future Memphis promoter was beginning his.

“Joe slammed me and then turned his back to me to run his mouth to the fans,” he says. “So, I did something I’d seen Fargo do dozens of times: I kicked him in the butt. About three seconds later, Joe had me wrapped up like a pretzel, almost to the point where I could kiss my own butt. He said to me, ‘Don’t you ever disrespect me again, or I’ll kill ya.’ There wasn’t much I could do at that point, so I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ And he let me go. That night, I received a wrestling education. I learned that you’ve got to respect the veterans who have been in this business a long time. For years and years, Joe and I laughed about that, although he forgot about it, whereas I never forgot.”

Corsica Joe passed away Sunday, March 14, at the age of 90. This morning on the telephone, Jarrett spoke fondly of the man who, together with Jean-Louis Roy, Sr. (Corsica Jean) headlined Memphis, Nashville and the surrounding towns for years as the World tag-team champions, feuding with the likes of the Fargos, the Fields brothers and Billy Wicks and various partners.

“Joe was a shooter, a tough guy–but he was a prince of a fellow,” he says. “Not too long ago, he went home to France–he knew it was going to be the last time–and he came back with his French accent really going, really talking fast; in fact, he never really lost his accent. We were speaking, and I said, ‘Joe, you’re gonna have to slow down. I can’t understand a word you’re saying.’ Joe loved the business and continued to follow it and attended shows up until the last year or so.”

Jarrett had the unique pleasure of seeing the feared Corsican Brothers through the eyes of a young fan in the late ’50s and early ’60s and later as a wrestler and promoter.

“I was a kid watching them beat up all the babyfaces at the Hippodrome in Nashville–I thought they were the toughest guys around,” he says. “Later, as a promoter, I was happy to book him. Jean and Joe were tremendous heels who knew how to get heat and make their opponents look good in their comeback. They had a lot of charisma and spoke with disdain of Americans with their French accents.”

For more on Corsica Joe, click here.

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