11/21/2013 12:03 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Quebec wrestler Maurice 'Mad Dog' Vachon dies at 84

Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, one of Quebec’s biggest wrestling icons, died in his sleep Thursday morning in Omaha, Nebraska. He was 84.

Originally from Ville-Émard, Vachon’s professional wrestling career was built on his unorthodox style, his legendary beard and his bad temper.

“He’s the best-known Quebec wrestler outside of Quebec. A legend,” says Pat Laprade, the author of a book on wrestling in the province.

Vachon participated in the 1948 London Olympics, where he finished 7th.

In the 1960s, his career as a heavyweight wrestler took off after being recruited to the American Wrestling Association. He was the AWA’s World Champion five times in the 1960s.

On July 14, 1973, Vachon fought opponent Wladek “Killer” Kowalski in front of 29,127 spectators at Montreal’s Jarry Park.

Laprade says Vachon’s fiery temper was put on for wrestling crowds, but that outside of the ring, he was a lovable character.

“He was the guy that people love to hate for years,” he says.

“He was known for helping others. He recommended wrestlers to new promoters. He helped wrestlers relaunch their careers,” Laprade continues.

Vachon retired from wrestling in 1986 after a 46-year-long career in the ring.

The next year, he lost one of his legs after being hit by a car. Later on, he lost the use of his other leg due to diabetes. He used a wheelchair until the end of his life.

He leaves behind six children and a large extended family.