104 wrestlers under 50 have died in the last decade
By SIMON ROTHSTEIN and JOHN LISTER
July 05, 2007
MORE than 100 wrestlers have died before reaching the age of 50 in the last 10 years, The Sun can reveal after the most comprehensive study of its kind.
Of the 104 grapplers who passed away between 1997 and 2007, 40 were full-time professionals who worked regularly for a large promotion or territory in the United States and Canada.
The other 64 wrestled part-time for many of North America's smaller independent groups, in the hope of one day finding their fame and fortune in the industry.
When you go back another 10 years between 1987-2007 (which we have also done in the list) the number of wrestlers dying too soon stands at 135.
It also reveals another astonishing statistic. The last 10 years has seen full-time fatalities more than double from the decade before - rising from 18 to 40.
These figures show the problem stretches out much further than just the WWE - and is a major issue for the entire wrestling industry.
Around a quarter of those passing away once worked for Vince McMahon's group, but that leaves 75 per cent who never set foot inside a WWE ring.
If you add in wrestlers competing in other countries who are no longer with us - which is a lot harder to measure because of different record keeping - the total number of deaths becomes at least 129 in the last 10 years and 164 in the last 20.
It was compiled for The Sun by respected wrestling historian John Lister.
John - whose books include Turning The Tables: The Story Of ECW - said: "Premature deaths in wrestling are a complex subject because there is rarely a single cause.
"Many leading wrestlers are affected by a deadly cocktail of problems, addictions and stresses.
"The most publicised recently has been the heavy use of steroids and other growth hormones and the requirement to maintain a physique all year round, thus making it impossible to reduce the dangers by taking regular breaks from use.
"Wrestlers have an acceptance of constant pain as part of the job, perform a physically stressful activity that strains the heart and take repeated blows to the head.
"This leads to heavy use of painkillers, alcohol and, in some cases, recreational drugs like cocaine.
"It is worse for full-timers, who have a gruelling travel schedule working unsociable hours - although that has improved in recent years.
"Finally there is a very competitive political atmosphere behind the scenes to get the full-time jobs and main event spots, as well as a tendency for wrestlers to blur the lines of reality and fantasy.
"There are no simple answers but unless promoters make major changes to the schedule, ring style and physical requirements for wrestlers - as well as introducing much stricter drug testing - the death toll will continue to rise.
The Sun's grappling columnist Simon added: "Analysing this list was both saddening and shocking.
"I was sad because it reminded me that some of my favourite childhood heroes had died, as well as guys I came to know and like covering the sport as an adult.
"I was shocked by discovering just how many wrestlers passed away under the radar - not so much a dirty secret as something so commonplace it barely merits attention.
"And, as it is only actual wrestlers, it doesn't even include valets, managers and referees like Miss Elizabeth and Chris Benoit's murdered wife Nancy.
"Of course, wrestling cannot be directly blamed for these deaths. The WWE or any other wrestling organisation didn't physically kill anyone.
"Nobody forced these guys to take copious amounts of steroids and painkillers to boost their careers, or told them that the best way to relax and make friends on the road is to get loaded on booze and cocaine.
"WWE boss Vince McMahon accurately stated recently that if Chris Benoit was a postman, nobody would be blaming the post office for his actions.
"But when you turn that comment on its head, a disturbing truth emerges.
"You have to ask yourself if the men and women on our list decided to deliver post instead of wrestle for a living, would they still be alive today to see their families grow up?
"The answer, in many of these cases, has to be a resounding yes."
Here is the list!
Adrian Adonis (Keith Franke) 34 1988 Accident (car)
Andre The Giant (Andre Rousimoff) 46 1993 Disease (heart attack caused by acromegaly)
Art Barr 28 1994 Overdose
Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) 45 2007 Overdose
Biff Wellington (Shayne Bower) 42 2007 Heart attack
Big Bossman (Ray Traylor) 42 2004 Heart attack
Big Dick Dudley (Alex Rizzo) 34 2002 Disease (Kidney failure)
Billy Joe Travis (William Joseph) 40 2002 Heart attack
Bobby Duncum Junior 34 2000 Overdose
Brady Boone (Dean Peters) 40 1998 Accident (car)
Brian Pillman 35 1997 Heart attack (genetic though likely worsened by drug abuse)
Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) 42 1988 Murdered (by fellow wrestler)
Buzz Sawyer (Bruce Woyan) 32 1992 Overdose
Chris Adams 40 2001 Murdered
Chris Benoit 40 2007 Suicide
Chris Candido 34 2003 Accident (blood clot during surgery after ring accident)
Crash Holly (Michael Lockwood) 33 2003 Overdose (possible suicide)
Curt Hennig 44 2003 Overdose
Danny Johnson 49 2003 Unknown
Davey Boy Smith 39 2002 Heart attack (drug related)
Dick Murdoch 49 1995 Heart attack
Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) 44 1993 Murdered
DJ Peterson (Dave Peterson) 33 1993 Accident (motorcycle)
Earthquake (John Tenta) 42 2006 Disease (cancer)
Ed Gantner 31 1990 Suicide
Eddie Gilbert 33 1995 Heart attack
Eddie Guerrero 38 2005 Heart attack (drug related)
Emory Hale 38 2006 Heart attack
Hawk (Michael Hegstrand) 44 2003 Heart attack (likely drug related)
Hercules (Ray Fernandez) 44 2003 Heart attack
Jeep Swenson (Robert Swenson) 40 1997 Heart attack
Jerry Blackwell 45 1995 Disease (pneumonia)
Joey Maggs (Jospeh Magliano) 37 2006 Unknown
John Studd (John Minton) 46 1995 Disease (Hodgkins)
Johnny Grunge (Mike Durham) 39 2006 Disease (sleep apnea, possibly worsened by drug use)
Junk Yard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) 45 1998 Accident (car)
Kerry Von Erich (Kerry Adkisson) 33 1993 Suicide
Larry Cameron 41 1993 Heart attack
Leroy Brown (Roland Daniels) 37 1994 Heart attack
Louie Spicolli (Louis Mucciolo) 27 1998 Overdose
Mike Awesome (Mike Alphonso) 42 2007 Suicide
Mike Davis 45 2001 Heart attack
Mike Lozanski 35 2003 Heart attack
Mitch Snow ? 2000 Suicide
Owen Hart 34 1999 Accident (ring entrance)
Pitbull 2 (Anthony Durante) 36 2003 Overdose
Ray Candy 37 1994 Heart attack
Renegade (Richard Wilson) 33 1999 Suicide
Ravishing Rick Rude 40 1999 Heart attack (drug related)
Rhonda Singh (Peggy Simpson) 40 2001 Overdose
Rocco Rock (Ted Petty) 49 2002 Heart attack
Scott Irwin 35 1987 Disease (Brain tumour)
Sherri Martel 49 2007 Unknown
Terry Gordy 40 2001 Heart attack
The Wall (Jerry Tuite) 35 2003 Heart attack
Troy Graham 47 2002 Heart attack
Vivian Vachon 40 1991 Accident (car)
Yokozuna (Rodney Anoia) 34 2000 Heart attack (genetic)
Adam Marks 21 2006 Unknown
Alan Carnill 42 2004 Accident (car)
Axis (Steven Ranton) 22 2007 Suicide
Bad Boy Brazil 26 2002 Drug related?
Bad Business Brown 31 2001 Disease (aneurysm)
Big City Mike 38 1997 Unknown
Big E Sleaze (Jeremy Sumpter) 22 1998 Suicide
Billy Redwood (William Crumpton) 29 2004 Accident (car)
Billy The Kid (William Reid) 48 1998 Unknown
Black Venus (Jean Kirkland) 46 1995 Unknown
Blue Thunder Tornado (David Wayne Daniels) 18 1988 Accident (fork lift)
Brandon Starr 19 2004 Accident (stroke from ring injury)
Brian Cox 33 2003 Unknown
Bubba Kneukols 34 2002 Heart attack
Chazz Roco (Chad Floyd) 37 2005 Heart attack
Chief Dave Foxx (David Farrar) 44 2001 Heart attack
Chief Thundermountain (David Moisier) 33 1991 Heart attack
Chri$ Ca$h (Christopher Bauman) 23 2005 Accident (motorcycle)
Chris Duffy 35 2000 Disease (seizure)
Chris Von Erich (Chris Adkisson) 21 1991 Suicide
Core (Lee Estabrook) 29 2003 Suicide
Dan Curtis 37 1998 Suicide
Dane Gerous (Jared Hogan) 19 2005 Accident (car)
Danny Fargo (Audie Hager) 44 2003 Disease (cancer)
Danny Hawke (Dan Hawkins) 33 2004 Drug related
Dave Casanova (David DiMeglio) 35 2002 Drug related?
Dave Vicious 31 2001 Heart attack
Doug Chevalier 38 2000 Heart attack
Dr Destruction (John Coggleshall) 34 2004 Heart attack (in ring)
Dynamite D (Darren McMillan) 37 2007 Disease (Cancer)
Floyd Creatchman 46 2003 Disease (Chron’s)
Guido Falcone (Richard Martell) 32 2002 Disease (Leukemia)
Harlem Warlord (Jamie Cardiche) 32 2000 Disease (complications in surgery)
Ivan Zaiken 39 1995 Unknown
J Prodigy (Jeremy Davis) 29 2004 Unknown
Jeff Peterson 22 2002 Disease (cancer)
Jeff Raitz ? 2002 Heart attack
Jenni Lee (Jennifer Bednar) 34 2006 Unknown
Jerry Oski (Jerry Arotski) 32 1995 Unknown
Jimmy Beal ? 1993 Unknown
Jimmy Hustler (Jimmy Alicea) 33 2006 Heart attack
Joe Powers 41 2003 Disease (Liver failure)
Kevin Mailhot 24 2005 Accident (car)
Lance Idol (Steve Schumann) 32 1991 Heart attack (drug related)
Larry Doyle 37 1998 Disease (diabetes)
Little Coco 40 1993 Unknown
Liz Chase 46 1999 Disease (dies during surgery)
Mark Mendian 20 2000 Accident (ring injury)
Mass Transit (Eric Kulas) 22 2002 Disease (obesity)
Matt Storm 39 2007 Unknown
Mike Marcello ? 2000 Suicide
Mr Ebony 46 1999 Heart attack
Neil Superior (Neil Caricofe) 33 1996 Heart attack (during arrest, attack likely drug related)
Pat Kelly 42 1988 Accident (Car)
Randy Mansfield (Randy Toslinksi) 23 1998 Unknown
Rick Bolton 49 2000 Unknown
Rick Martello 38 1997 Unknown
Robbie D (Robert Dicks) 32 2002 Suicide
Rockin’ Robin (Kim Robinson) 35 2001 Accident (motorcycle) (note – not the WWF wrestler)
Rocky Hata (Mitsuo Hata) 43 1991 Unknown
Russ Haas 27 2001 Heart attack (genetic)
Scott Peterson 31 1994 Accident (Motorcycle)
Shane Shamrock (Brian Hauser) 23 1998 Murdered (actually shot legally by police during raid)
Spider (Daniel Quirk) 22 2005 Accident (in ring)
Stephan DeLeon 34 2004 Accident (motorcycle)
Steve King 49 1998 Unknown
Texas Outlaw #1 39 2004 Accident (car)
The Diva (Kelly Tabor) 28 2002 Unknown
The Stud 25 2006 Overdose
Tiger Khan (Marlon Kalkai) 33 2006 Heart attack
Tiny Anderson 42 1995 Unknown
Tony Nash 30 2000 Accident (ring injury)
Tony Rumble (Antony Magliaro) 43 1999 Heart attack
Trae Kellar 36 2005 Unknown
Xtreme 20 2004 Unknown
Yuel Lovett (Alex Lovett) 28 1999 Heart attack
Yukon Braxton (Jeffrey Dingess) 24 2002 Unknown
International wrestlers we know
Angel Azteca 43 2007 Heart attack (suspected)
Baby X (Jose Barreto Martínez) 21 2004 Murdered
Brazo Cibernetico (Aaron Alvardo Nieves) 33 1999 Disease (pancreatitis)
El Sanguinario (Luis Delgadillo) 33 2002 Unknown
El Texano (Juan Aguilar) 47 2006 Disease (respiratory failure)
Emiko Kado 23 1999 Accident (ring injury)
Gary Albright 36 1999 Heart attack (died during a match)
Giant Ochiai (Takayuki Okada) 30 2003 Disease (brain haemorrhage)
Haru Sonada 31 1987 Unknown
Jackie Sato 41 1999 Disease (cancer)
Jimmy Beale 25 1993 Unknown
Jumbo Tsuruta (Tomomi Tsuruta) 49 2000 Disease (Hepatitis)
Kodo Fuyuki 42 2003 Disease (cancer)
Kronnus (Sergio Armando Villa) 27 1999 Murdered
Kung Fu (Raymundo Cuesta Veloz) 49 2000 Heart attack
Little Frankie (Masanobu Okamoto) 44 2002 Disease (unknown)
Loco Zandokan (Arturo Carrillo Arteaga) 39 1995 Unknown
Masakazu Fukuda 27 2000 Accident (ring injury)
Mephisto Lephanto 31 2007 Heart attack (in ring)
Multifacieto (Albert Morales) 20 2000 Suicide
Oro (Javier Hernandez) 21 1993 Disease (Brain aneurysm, died in ring)
Plum Mariko (Mariko Ueda) 29 1997 Accident (series of ring injuries)
Relampago Negro ? 2002 Murdered
Satoshi Hasegawa 22 1999 Accident (fell from balcony)
Shinya Hashimoto 40 2005 Disease (aneurysm)
Sombre Negra (Edwin Ortiz Torres) 36 2001 Heart attack
Vangelis (Alejandro Granados) 29 2002 Unknown
Victor The Bodyguard (Victor Rodriguez) 38 2004 Heart attack
Villano I (Jose Mendoza) 49 2001 Heart attack
all tragic to be sure - such a list of stars at one time or another
"Every gym has the tard who never gets bigger,never shuts up,and never goes away!"
"If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Ghurka,"
Sad story here.
However, lets not forget some other stats. such as the average age of death for a NFL linebacker is 55.
These problems are unfortunately not unique to wrestling.
That's a long list ... I wonder what's causing these deaths. Premature heart issues due to the sport? Stress?
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