The Adkisson family, better known as the Von Erichs, are described as the hard-bodied, golden-haired, bare-chested hunks of Texas.
The Von Erich family starts with Fritz who held many important titles in his career. Fritz was very influential during his career not only as an National Wrestling Alliance president and president of WCCW (the company he created) but especially for his very important role in Japanese wrestling where he helped the industry revive again after the death of Rikidozan. Fritz died in 1997, aged 68, after a battle with lung cancer which spread to his brain.
Jack Von Erich
The Von Erich’s family glory is blurred by a series of deaths starting from the first son who died whilst at his neighbor’s house who had been remodeling and left some wiring exposed. Jackie brushed against the wiring knocking him unconscious and fell face down into a puddle of melted snow and drowned at the age of 7.
This death was not the last family tragedy as four of the other five children of Fritz died prematurely and tragically.
David Von Erich (1958 – 1984 aged 25)
David is attributed with many memorable feuds facing Harley Race, Ric Flair (several times for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship) and teaming with brothers Kevin and Kerry against the Fabulous Freebirds winning the Missouri Heavyweight Championship several times.
David was set to face Ric Flair once again for the NWA World Heavyweight Title in a match that would (according to rumors) see him emerge as winner but David did not make it; he died in 1984, a few days before the match.
The doctor’s report states that he died of acute enteritis but Ric Flair states that “it was a drug overdose that really killed him and that Bruiser Brody (a fellow wrestler who found David) disposed of the narcotics by flushing them down a toilet before the police arrived.”
Mick Foley states that the cause of death appears to be a drug overdose. The Von Erich’s family never issued the death certificate or doctor’s report.
Kerry Von Erich (1960-1993 aged 33)
Kerry spent the majority of his career wrestling in World Class Championship Wrestling and participated in well known feuds such as those against Gino Hernandez, Iceman Parsons, Chris Adams and The Fabulous Freebirds.
Kerry’s popularity came mainly after taking the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair at the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions; a tribute show to honor David. Kerry also worked for the WWF and Global Wrestling Federation.
But on the 4th of June 1986, Kerry had a motorcycle accident (reportedly riding barefoot striking a parked vehicle) and risked his life. Kerry ended up with a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors tried hard, but nothing could be done to save his foot which had to be amputated after (according to his brother Kevin) injuring it again following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely. Kerry was able to continue wrestling after the accident with prosthesis but kept the amputation secret to the majority of fans and fellow wrestlers; even showering with his boots on to hide this.
Kerry had drug problems after his accident left him with painkiller and cocaine addiction and this led to two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. The second came after he was caught in possession of cocaine. This violated the probation and would leave him with an extensive jail time. This, and the fact that his marriage was broken and thus committed suicide that same day of arrest by a shot to the heart in 1993 on his father’s ranch.
Mike Von Erich (1964-1987 aged 23)
After suffering a shoulder injury in 1985 on a wrestling tour, Mike was forced to have surgery. Even though he seemed to have recovered from it, he developed high fever four days later and was discovered to be suffering from Toxic shock syndrome. According to Ric Flair, Mike was forced back into the ring by Fritz much too early. Eventually, Mike had to retire after not being able to return to the ring at full strength anymore and had been losing body mass. Probably this was the cause of his decision to commit suicide in 1987 by and intentional overdose of a tranquilizer.
Chris Von Erich (1969-1991 aged 21)
Chris, the youngest in the family, wanted to become a wrestler and follow his brothers’ success but his build did not help him much. Being the shortest (suffered from asthma which limited his growth to 5’6) and least athletic of the Von Erich family, he made many attempts to succeed in wrestling due to his love of wrestling that kept him trying despite numerous injuries. He managed one major feud with Percy Pringle in the USWA/World Class, but his career didn’t take off like the rest of the family’s.
Chris was very close to his brother Mike and his death had a hard impact on him. This along with the fact that he could not live up with his lack of success made him depressed and frustrated leading him to commit suicide in 1991 by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Von Erichs Today
Kevin Von Erich is the only son of Ritz to still be alive. He is nowadays a retired wrestler residing in Hawaii whilst his son, Ross Von is attending college in Texas and an up and coming wrestling future.
Lacey Von Erich is the daughter of Kerry Von Erich and the only female from the family to make a career in the wrestling business. She also wrestles barefooted like her Uncle Kevin.
Blame – Wrestling or Drugs?
Many people, including Rowdy Roddy Piper, have said that the Von Erich family is an example of how wrestling promoters treat wrestlers like a disposable resource. Ric Flair disagrees and says that it was not wrestling that killed the Von Erichs but drugs. Flair partially blames Fritz, because if Fritz had not lived in denial, and made his sons accountable for their behavior, they might well be alive today.
Copyright (c) 2010 Davide Botticelli