Wrestling Legend Dead at 87: Billy Two Rivers Mourned by Fans

Billy Two Rivers, a professional wrestler from Canada, died on Sunday. He was 87 years old. The cause of death was not announced, but Two Rivers' niece, Melissa Montour-Lazare, share the news of his death on her Facebook page, saying that he was a "gentle giant, very intelligent and knowledgeable person. He was so sweet."

According to the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, Two Rivers was a Kanienʼkéha (Mohawk language) speaker and advocated for its use in everyday life. "He was hugely influential, acting as Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton's right-hand man during the so-called Oka Crisis, the most difficult time in Kahnawà:ke's recent history," the MCK said, per CVT News in Montreal. "He was both colorful and outspoken, never afraid to challenge government officials or correct Kahnawà:ke's opponents on their misinterpretations of the community's position or its place in history."

Two Rivers made his professional wrestling debut in 1953 at the age of 17. In his career, Two Rivers won the Grand Prix Wrestling Tag Team Championship, the Lutte Internationale Candian International Heavyweight Championship and the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Rivers announced his retirement from wrestling in 1977 and entered politics. He was elected into the Council of Kahnawake in 1978 where he spent the next 20 years. Two Rivers then worked as a political and policy advisor in his community. 

Many fans went to Twitter to pay tribute to Two Rivers. One person wrote: "Billy Two Rivers who sadly passed onto the Spirit World today was a famous wrestler, when I was in London, England with him in the late 1980s, old white guys were running up to him like little kids asking for his autograph, they said they saw him wrestle at Albert Hall!"

"The AFN extends deepest condolences to all affected by the recent passing of Kahnawà:ke Elder Billy Two Rivers, a valued political leader, activist, and retired professional wrestler," the Assembly of First Nations tweeted. "He will forever be missed." Two Rivers appeared in a series of film and television projects including Black Robe (1991), Tales of the Wild (1994). He is survived by his wife, Pauline, three daughters, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.