#PWHS #Bio #Biography #Christol #FrenchDemon #DeadwoodMiner
Christol was born in the suburbs of Marseilles, France on February 2, 1846. It's said he entered wrestling as a 14 year old under the tutelage of Rossignol Rolin, although he had shown great skill at an even younger age for feats of strength. He went on to also receive training from Favoud, Pugol, Ambroise and Erienne Le Patre, and the Marseilles Brothers.
After four years of learning and having few matches he took to travelling further from his home and is said to have picked up some notable wins over Millehomme from Bordeaux, La Resistance from Toulouse and Lacaisse from Paris, as well as others between the years of 1865 and 1871.
It appears he won his first championship in 1871 with wins over Concha of Spain in Barlecona and Madrid. With that Christol claimed to be the Spanish Champion. According to the Ganon-Schafer files Adolf Grun and Carl Kemp both picked up wins against Christol during the year of 1872 in Germany.
Christol claimed to have toured western America briefly in 1873 exhibiting his feats of strength and taking part in wrestling exhibitions before moving on to Rainer's circus later that year staying there for the next two years touring South America too. He wound up in New York during July 1874 though, before finally settling there for a stint.
As Greco-Roman style wrestling gained popularity he branched out and travel to the Northeast. Never did Christol have long runs with a main title that we know of, but he did indeed defeat Professor Thiebaud Bauer on December 29, 1875 for the "World" Graeco-Roman Championship. When he lost the title is currently unknown. As far as I know he never won a heavyweight title in America again.
In many papers it was noted Andre was small in build but very powerful, able to bend iron bars with his hands. It was this power that kept people believing he could just throw the very best. He was pitted against the top wrestlers in America, normally in Greco-Roman matches.
A lot of places list that he was defeated by William Muldoon on February 6, 1877 and this was when Muldoon first won the American Graeco-Roman Championship. Now, I'm not confident that match took place, or at least not on that day anyway. There's no contemporary evidence for it nor do some very respectable websites list it, not to forget to mention it’s also claimed Muldoon was in a different match on that day, but that is also unproven.
As a kind of side note, Christol was also a champion swimmer and competed in America between wrestling matches . But, back to the wrestling. In 1877 he faced Professor William Miller in a match, and although the newspapers do not confirm Miller was the champion going into it, it's likely he was, as he held the title just a couple of months prior. The match took place on June 15 in front of 1,000 fans at the Terrace Garden in New York.
Another very notable match for Christol was one against Clarence Whistler. Christol was known as the French Demon and Whistler would go on to be called the Kansas Demon. I say “go on”, as it was Christol who was defeated in Whistler's debut match that took place in Omaha, Nebraska in February 1879. Upon further research, it's almost certain this contest was actually Lucien Marc Christol posing as Andre.
And thus his career continued on in the same manner. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride so to say. He competed against all the top names from Colonel James Hiram McLaughlin to Duncan C. Ross to Sorakichi Matsuda to Tom Cannon and Homer Lane.
Quite a few wrestlers as they got up in years dropped out of the heavyweight bracket and concentrated on lower weights. Christol was no different. For on May 27, 1886 he defeated Sam Matthews the reigning Pacific Coast Middleweight Championship in the finals of a tournament. With this Christol once again had a title. Over eleven years since he won the first one in America.
On September 19, 1886 Christol arrived in Australia following a ship journey from California. He still held his American title on arrival. For the next four years the land down under was his home. While there he played pretty much the same role as he did in America. Upon his arrival he claimed to be the Australian Graeco-Roman Middleweight Championship. Now he could claim to be the "World" Graeco-Roman Middleweight Champion, laurels which he soon lost to Jack Connors. Also when he was over there he participated in a few boxing matches, but not much came of that.
In the beginning of May 1890 he traveled back to his home of France. There is an article that states Andre returned back to America though. It's said he was found wandering around Riverside Park, New York on May 14, 1894. His actions were described as strange and he was collected by medical persons and taken back to Bellevue Hospital as he was perceived to be insane. What came of this I do not know.
What is apparent though is by 1908 he was said to be back in Paris, France where he owned a tailor shop. To the best of my knowledge he did not leave Paris again, however it is currently it is unknown when and where Andre passed away.
When I originally composed this bio it was thought Christol had never won any major titles. As you now know from reading this, it's simply not true. I deemed his career a great one before, but with further discoveries as to it's extent, it just keeps getting more impressive. It seems quite clear to me that Andre Christol was one of the first to frequently end a match due to an injury. Normally his arm, specifically collar bone, but not limited to that part of the body. Something Lucien Marc also used during his career. Of course it's possible they were legitimate injuries, but I think not with these two.
From supposedly (it's likely he was not as his stature does not fit the bill) being the Masked Wrestler of Paris to competing with all of the top names in America, Europe and Australasia and winning titles in all three continents (or so it's said of Europe anyway). Christol faced them all and you can not talk 19th century professional wrestling without his name coming up somewhere along the lines. Oh...and I nearly forgot, he is credited with being the first man to introduce the "French Hug," which appears to be a move a couple of you may have heard of...the "Bear Hug."
Now, before we close this look at Andre Christol we must take a look at his relationship or non-relationship as it may very well be with Lucien Marc Christol. If you have already read this on the Lucien Marc biography, there is nothing new in the following as both are the same.
- Andre was born in France.
- Lucien Marc was born in France, Belgium or America.
- Andre is first mentioned in America during 1874.
- Lucien Marc is first mentioned in America during 1876.
- March 29, 1879, in Denver, Colorado, Andre Christol faces an "Unknown Deadwood Miner." The miner defeats Andre Christol. The miner reveals himself as the real Andre Christol. The man who had billed himself as Andre Christol was revealed as Lucien Marc. It was announced that since 1877 (I believe sometime after May) Lucien Marc had been posing as Andre Christol. The real Andre had not been competing at all during this time period.
- Then Lucien Marc began using the name Lucien Marc Christol.
- Andre and Lucien Marc appear on a few cards together in the months following this.
- November 30, 1885 Lucien Marc's sister passes away and she was said to be his last relation.
- Andre travels to Australia in 1886 and the two never cross paths again.
- 1891 A Christol is in Germany and was defeated by Tom Cannon, unclear which one.
- May 14, 1894 in the article where Andre is said to be insane he is also listed as the brother of Lucien Marc.
There are also records of a Leon, Athlet, Black (Jean Doublier) and an Edmund Christol, but no blood-connection to Andre and Lucien Marc is currently known other than in December 1877 Lucien Marc was billed to face Leon Christol.
A question no historian seems to know the answer to is whether Andre and Lucien Marc were actually related, some had pondered if they were the same man. Upon reviewing the information it's very clear they were two different men. However, as to whether they shared the same blood or not is not so definitively answered. If it was not for that pesky singular article stating they were related it would be all too easy.
Unfortunately given that all this is from over a century ago to dismiss the sole article would be an injustice as we have to remember it could just be that others are lost or just simply waiting to be discovered in a newspaper somewhere. For the time being though, unless more information does become available. It is my opinion these two men were not related. Lucien Marc wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Andre after he dropped out of the scene in the late 1870's.
Furthermore though, I feel there are two possibilities as to what happened when the two squared off in Denver. Either it was a planned occurrence with both men realizing the potential of the two "brothers" traveling together, they didn't necessarily have to lie, Lucien Marc just adopted the name, and the match in Denver was just a way to make it known there were two men. Alternatively, Andre could very well have challenged Lucien Marc legitimately and upon winning extended his hand as a way to work with Lucien and allow him to use the name Christol going forward possibly out of respect for his skill in the ring.
Unique content strictly for the Professional Wrestling Historical Society.
Biography of Andre Christol.
Author: Jimmy Wheeler.
Published: September 22, 2014.
Editor: Jimmy Wheeler.
Updated: November 14, 2018.