AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Angelique Parisot-Potter and I am the daughter of the late wrestler Ray Apollon.
My dad’s stage name was Ray Apollon, but his real name was Cyril Joseph. So I was Angelique Parisot-Joseph before I became Angelique Parisot-Potter.
I think of my dad, if not every day, every other day. And he’s been dead for 20 years!
He died in February 1997.
I was born in Hamburg, Germany, ‘cause Daddy was wrestling on a contract there. We lived in Germany for five years before coming to Trinidad.
My mum, Suzanne Parisot, is French.
When I was born, I was on the front page of the German newspapers as the daughter of the cocoa-brown wrestler Ray Apollon.
We went to Germany quite often as a family until I was 19, when I left home. Two of my many godparents were German.
One of my godfathers was Oddjob – Harold Sakata, the actor who played the assassin with the bowler hat in the James Bond film Goldfinger. I have pictures of him and me.
Daddy moved in all these glamorous circles.
We grew up in Belmont and moved to Cascade. So I consider myself a Belmont-Cascade girl. Woman.
Although I’m actually a Hamburger.
My mum and dad stayed together for 26 years. My dad had been married before meeting my mum, when she was 18 and he was 40.
He had two daughters almost the same age as my mum; that sounds terrible, but it’s the truth.
After his marriage ended – it was very acrimonious, so I’m not really in touch with (my half-sisters) – he was wrestling in India, where my mum grew up in a French settlement called Pondicherry.
Sad story. There were three of us children, me, the eldest by a year, then Fernando. My brother, Raymond, who would have been 47 last year, died in 2017. He was shot by the police.
He was extremely charismatic – everybody loved Raymond — but he was also bipolar. It was very difficult for my mom because he was the youngest of us and her favourite. He was seven years younger than me.
It will always be “three of us” – but now it’s just “two of us” children.
Raymond was named after Daddy.
I was raised Catholic and I still believe, probably, in a kind of a way.
We try to raise our girls more from the perspective of being good people. That’s what my dad was all about.
It’s nice to think that Daddy and Raymond are together somewhere.
Or at least that Raymond died after Daddy, so Daddy didn’t have to see him go that way.
I think that would have killed him. I saw what it did to my mum. The way he died was so traumatic.
We all knew Raymond was her favourite and accepted that; I think I was my dad’s favourite, so that was okay by me.
Poor Fernando was the middle child!
I have a family myself: my husband, James, and our daughters, Charlotte, 16, and Sophie, 14, two years and one day apart.
We met in the (once famous English-style pub in Cascade) Pelican…Best place to meet!
We’ve been married 20 years.
From an early age, we all used to go to all my dad’s wrestling matches. Skinner Park, the National Stadium, didn’t matter if there was school the next day.
I remember little old ladies with umbrellas in their hands, standing on those plastic white chairs, shouting, “Kill him! Butt him! Give him ‘the coconut,’ Ray Apollon!” They’d be literally screaming for blood.
When Daddy did wrestling, it was “proper” wrestling – but then the (gimmicky, staged, sensational) World Wrestling Federation came along. Wrestling was one of the original Greek Olympics sports – but Trinidad wanted WWF!
Wrestling was huge in Trinidad back then. It was on TV every Sunday afternoon.
Through my dad, internationally famous wrestlers came to wrestle in Trinidad, like Abdullah the Butcher, Carlitos Peron, Invaders No 1 and No 1, Victor Jovica, Mil Mascaras and Andre the Giant.
He was in the Princess Bride movie. Daddy said that Andre thought children were afraid of him, because he really was a giant, so I sat on his lap to make him feel better. He’s dead, now, too.
Daddy never raised his hand to me, never treated any of us with anything but love and affection.
He worshipped Mummy! She was the most glamorous woman I’ve ever seen. She was like (American pre-WWII movie star) Ava Gardner – she was Ava Gardner in some places – and Daddy worshipped the ground she walked on.
As a child, I used to get teased at school. One day, a girl said, “Oh, my dad is a doctor!” And I said, “Well, my dad is a wrestler!”
And I gave her a head-butt!
That was the only time I was ever put in any form of punishment in any school.
The best thing about Ray Apollon being my dad was the way he treated everyone with respect.
People looked up to him so much, but he never used that to gain an advantage for himself.
‘Cause things were bad at times, really bad, relying on wrestling for an income. He would tell us, “Don’t worry, God will provide!”
But it was like he was God to us, because he always somehow provided for us.
I wish I’d spent more time with him.
Just before he died, I was having a mid-life crisis at age 30 and I quit my job as a lawyer, took a year off and went to learn Spanish in the Dominican Republic, where James, my (future) husband, was working.
I went to tell Daddy I was going away to learn Spanish. He was in his 70s, bedridden, and already not well. And he started speaking to me in Spanish. His mind was so alert!
It still hurts me to this day that I got back to Trinidad just hours after he died!
You know they say, “A woman marries her father”?
Well, I tell my husband James, all the time, that, except for his colour and his size, he’s my father!
He’s white, Daddy was black; he’s skinny, Daddy was big; but he is like a non-carbon copy of my father: his generosity, his kindness, his humility. He treats his daughters the way my dad treated me.
I married a newer replica of my father!
A Trini is someone who understands that friendship is family. Doesn’t have to be blood.
And Trinis understand liming – someone who understands liming is a Trini, whether they’re born here or not.
No matter where I travel – and I’ve actually lived as an adult in Egypt, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and the UK – Trinidad is always home. Egypt was the antithesis of Trinidad, Brazil was very similar – but nowhere is like Trinidad and Tobago.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com