Billy Two Rivers
Kahnawake Mohawk Elder


When Billy Two Rivers retired from pro wrestling in 1976, after 24 years in the ring, little did he know that within a short period of time, he'd be in an even bigger game, with bigger stakes and bigger egos -- politics.

A friend on the council at the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal thought that Two Rivers would be great at politics, and tried to convince him to run for council in 1976. Two Rivers brushed him off, thinking himself too young at 41 to get involved in politics.

Then, 1978 came, and two years older and wiser, Two Rivers did run for council -- where he sat for the next 20 years, leading the Mohawks of the Kahnawake reserve, including the controversial blockade of Montreal's Mercier Bridge in 1990, usually referred to as the Oka Crisis.

His wealth of experience travelling the world as a wrestler came in handy, and he was essentially the "external affairs minister" for the council. In 1998, he didn't get re-elected, and now works as senior policy and political advisor to the Assembly of First Nations run by Phil Fontaine.

Now, at 65, he's very philosophical about the way his life has turned out. "I've always figured out that whatever happened to me, there was a reason for it. When I had to draw upon whatever experience I'd gathered in my lifetime, it served its purpose when I had to do it at any particular time," Two Rivers said on recent Sunday, while awaiting the next NFL playoff game at his home in Kahnawake.



page last updated 14 July 2004