A stirring life

Gilbert Voiney or Gil Voiney - born on the 28 th november 1928 in Pont de roide (France), died in Hyères on the 15 th december 2003

Biography

He started in sport with Basketball and athletics (decathlon). As a junior he won the title of his region “bourgogne Franche-comté” for 100 meters in 11.1s.
Quickly he turned to wrestling and weightlifting which he liked more. He was starting for the heavyweight division of his towns (chalon sur saône) amateur club.
In weightlifting he lifted 157.5 kg in the clean-and-jerk movement, and at the bench he was able to push 180 kg.
But his favourite sport was wrestling. He became champion of France junior and senior in 1955. After winning those titles he was selected for the French team and fought six times for his national team in competitions taking place in Finland, Belgium, Germany, the Soviet-Union and France. On December 30th 1955 he fought in Nantes (France) against Johannes KOTKAS, Olympic champion in 1952 and three times European champion. One year later (1956) in Hof against Germany he met the famous German Wilfried DIETRICH (nick name “the crane”) Olympic champion 1956 in Melbourne. He lost the fight after 8 minutes.
Before the Olympic games of 1956 he was very disappointed about the decision of the French federation not to take any heavy-weights to the games, claiming that he had no chance to get a medal, even tough he had won the “Mediterranean games» just before.
This injustice and the possibility to earn more money than in the factory of Renault in Paris, in which he worked at the same time, pushed him to the professional league.

Professional Career

He got his professional licence and after some years in Paris he won the title “champion of the world” on December 11th 1961 against Lucky Simunovich. After winning this title he travelled around the world to participate in wrestling tournaments. Places of appearance among others were Australia, South-Africa and Lebanon.
In 1964 he moved to the United States and changed his name to Max MORTIER. In most of his fights he was part of the "Mortier brothers" team, consisting of him and Hans Mortier. It was the best period of his wrestling career, in which he fought against the best fighters of the world in wrestling like Bruno SAMMARTINO (June 2, 1964) and Jerry & Luke GRAHAM, with some fights taking place in the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. After nearly two years he returned to France.
In 1966 in “cirque d’hiver” of Paris he fought against the massive Hercules CORTEZ (160kg) for the title, and was able to defend the belt with a victory. At those times he was very famous at the French TV wrestling show and for some months became the personal bodyguard of the famous actress Brigitte BARDOT.
In 1968 he went to Japan to participate in a tournament for the first time. He liked Japan and the excitement of Japanese people about wrestling and went there a couple of times during the next years to take part in wrestling shows.
In the same year he left France to live in Hamburg (Germany), where he had bought a cabaret name “Pulverfass» and some restaurants.
During his ten year stay in Germany, he participated in many tournaments in Austria and all around Germany. But more and more wrestling was becoming hard for him and his body, and after a car crash he had in Germany where he broke his left leg very seriously, he retired from his favourite sport.
He came back to France and bought a little restaurant in Menton on the French Riviera . He lived there for 20 years and became president of the commission of sport for the town and president of the weightlifting-club. In the early 80s he appeared in the movie "Joyeuses pâques" together with Jean-Paul BELMONDO and Sophie MARCEAU.
Gil Voiney died in 2003 in Hyères, and had two sons (Gilles and Jacques), one grandson (André) and one great-grandson (Alexander). He his buried in Menton/France.