Saturday, May 21, 2011

Notable Wrestling Deaths in History

Originally appeared on

Clarence Whistler - Talk about old school. Just 20 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, pro wrestling was more legit than most of today's Olympic sports. Clarence Whistler mowed down the competition and celebrated every victory with a glass of champagne. Then he ate the glass that had contained said champagne. Must have been damn good champagne. Well, it was only a matter of time before all that glass eating caught up with him, which it did on November 6, 1885, when he died of internal bleeding at 29 years of age.

Rudger Terry - Terry was a passenger in a speeding car one cold winter day in Tacoma, Washington in 1934, traveling to his next show like many wrestlers still do today. A state patrolman - not at all overreacting - fired a shot at the car, meaning to hit one of the tires. He instead hit Terry square in the head, and the wrestler died an hour later at a local hospital.

Kola Kwariani - Kwariani was not only a wrestler, but a chess expert and movie star, having appeared in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing in 1956. He was also a super bad ass, and in 1980, at the age of 77, he got into a bar fight with five young black men. Well, those aren't good odds for a man a third Kwariani's age. So he was beaten pretty badly and died from his injuries. Still, he was in a Kubrick film!

Gary Albright - Albright was the nephew of Fabulous Freebird Terry Gordy, a wrestler who himself died of a heart attack in 2002. But on January 7, 2000, while wrestling in Hazleton, Pennsylvania against a fellow named Lucifer Grimm, Albright suffered a heart attack and died. But he still won the match! A roll with the punches Grimm placed Albright on top of himself and the referee counted Grimm down for the pin. Now that's a team player!

Bruiser Brody
(above) - Brody was very popular with fans, but not an easy guy to work with. In 1986, not appreciating the arrogance of rookie grappler Lex Luger (who, by the way, was with his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth when she died from an overdose in 2003), Brody went completely against the outline of the match and stood still with every punch Luger threw at him, causing Luger to simply leave the ring in confusion. Brody had a reputation for not always playing ball, and it caught up with him on July 17, 1988 when, after a dispute over a match, wrestler/booker Jose Huertes Gonzales allegedly stabbed Brody to death in a locker room shower. Gonzalez was acquitted of the murder, though, like O.J. Simpson and Lizzie Borden, he'll always be considered guilty by the public.

Chris Adams (above) - "Gentleman" Chris Adams was one of my favorites when I was a wee lad, but it turns out this Englishman wasn't much of a gentleman at all. When his friend and tag team partner Gino Hernandez died of an apparent cocaine overdose in 1986, Adams was briefly a suspect. That same year he spent 90 days in the pokey for head butting an airline pilot. Then, in 2000, Adams and his girlfriend both overdosed on GHB and alcohol. His girlfriend died but Adams lived to be indicted on an unrelated manslaughter charge, for which he faced 20 years in prison. Lucky for him he was shot to death on October 7, 2001. Few in the wrestling business had anything good to say about "the Gentleman" after his death.

There are many, many others deserving of recognition, but these seven men are the standard bearers, and will forever serve as the measure by which every other grappler who dies an untimely death shall be judged.

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