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The Von Erich’s: A Family Wrestling Tragedy

Toxic Shock Syndrome

During the 1980’s the Von Erich’s family reached the pinnacle in the world of professional wrestling. However as fast as they reached the top , their world would come crashing down around them with a series of family tragedy’s.

Jack Adkisson better known to wrestling fans as Fritz Von Erich owned and operated World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) based in Dallas Texas. During there peak years 1982-85 the promotion was one of, if not the most popular wrestling promotions in operation.

Fritz’s main talent pool was centered around his own sons, Kevin, David, Kerry, Mike and Chris Von Erich. While WCCW was running at the top of the pack it would start its decent into a downward spiral as tragedy of events would continue to haunt the family.

The first loss to affect the family was the death of Jack Adkisson jr. at the age of 7, he was accidentally electrocuted and drown in puddle.

David Von Erich was the next loss the family would suffer. Touring in Japan in 1984 where he was supposedly going to win the NWA World Heavyweight championship, David was found dead in his hotel room. While the official cause of death was listed as a heart attack caused by a ruptured intestine. There has been plenty of speculation that he actually died of a drug overdose. David was 25 years old.

Mike Von Erich was the next in the sequence of ill fate to touch the Von Erich family. Fritz’s second youngest son was not really interested in performing in the ring, he wanted to work in the business but in a more behind the scene aspect. It is rumored that after David’s death Fritz pushed Mike to work in the ring to take his late brothers place. Mike suffered a shoulder injury in 1985 and developed toxic shock syndrome which never allowed him to heal properly to perform 100% in the ring forcing him into retirement. Becoming ever more depressed and in 1987 he committed suicide by overdosing on tranquilizers. Mike was 23 years old.

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Chris Von Erich the youngest son of Fritz had several medical issues that never allowed him to fully compete in the ring. He suffered sever asthma and a bone condition that made his bones so weak that they would often break from completing a simple move in the ring. Chris became depressed and frustrated in conjunction with the loss of his brothers and not being able to live up to the Von Erich standard in the ring. In 1991 Chris committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Chris was 21 years old.

Kerry Von Erich the ” Modern Day Warrior” was probably the most well known and popular of the Von Erich boys. Kerry held multiple championship while working in the ring and found success in what ever federation he was working for. Kerry however would have to face even more adversity following the deaths of his brothers. A motorcycle accident in 1986 would result in the amputation of Kerry’s right foot, however he would return to the ring wearing a prosthesis and keeping this a secret from the fans as well as other wrestlers. Kerry also was battling the demons of drug addiction and after being charged with cocaine possession and the possibility of al lengthy prison sentence Kerry committed suicide shooting himself in the heart on Fritz’s ranch in 1993. Kerry was 33 years old.

Kevin Von Erich is the sole surviving son of Fritz, however Kerry’s daughter Lacey and Kevin’s son Ross are said to be contemplating entering the squared circle and continuing the Von Erich wrestling legacy. Wrestling fans can only hope that the legacy continues and not the tragedy.