As fans, we sometimes get so drawn into the world of professional wrestling, that we sometimes forget that wrestlers are human beings too. They go through the same things in life just like everybody else. They get to experience the positive things in life like getting married and having a family. They also have to deal with the crappy things in life like paying the bills and dealing with death.
Death is never an easy thing to deal with. However, it’s the hardest to deal with when you have to watch one of your children leave this world before you do. A parent should never have to bury their own child, but it’s just something that is unavoidable in life. Throughout the years, wrestlers have had the unfortunate distinction of outliving their own children.
A common theme you find about the entries on this list is that a lot of the wrestlers were second generational talent. Being the children of legendary wrestlers came with a whole lot of pressure. Some of these wrestlers couldn’t handle that pressure and turned to drugs, which ultimately led to their deaths.
Here are 15 wrestlers who unfortunately outlived children.
15. Ricky Romero/Jay Youngblood
Ricky Romero may not be a super well-known name, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a successful career. He wrestled from the mid-1950s all the way to the 1980’s. The most success of his career took place when he started wrestling in Texas. He became so popular that fans voted him their favorite over the likes of Dory and Terry Funk. Throughout his career ” SuperMex” as the fans called him, faced off against legends like Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, and Jack Brisco.
Ricky Romero had four sons, and all of them followed his footsteps and became wrestlers. All four of them also took gimmick last name of “Youngblood”. The son who arguably had the most success in wrestling was Jay Youngblood. During the early 1980’s he formed an excellent tag team with Ricky Steamboat. Unfortunately, Jay would pass away at the early age of thirty when his spleen burst in the middle of a match in 1985.
14. Tommy Gilbert/ Eddie Gilbert
Tommy Gilbert wasn’t a household name, but he still had a decent wrestling career. He began his career in the 1960s and it continued well into the 1980’s. He wrestled primarily in the southern part of the United States. During the later part of his career, he wrestled as the horror movie icon, Freddie Kruger. In 1994, he was inducted into the Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Tommy Gilbert had three children, two of them would get into the wrestling business. Doug Gilbert, wrestled primarily for NWA affiliated promotions. Tommy’s eldest son Eddie had a successful career that was unfortunately cut short. “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert had success in both the UWF and WCW. He was arguably an even better booker than an in-ring performer. Eddie sadly passed away in 1995 after suffering a heart attack. He was just 33 years old and still had a ton left to give to the business.
13. Jimmy Valiant/ Rhonda Schultz
Jimmy Valiant had a wrestling career that spanned over four decades. He began his career in the 1960s wrestling for the WWWF. While teaming up with his kayfabe brother Johnny, the two men would go to feud with the likes of Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino. In the 1970s Valiant became a main event star in Memphis, often battling it out with Jerry Lawler.
“Handsome” Jimmy Valiant would spend the ’80s wrestling for the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions before wrestling the remaining part of his career on the independents. Valiant has been married multiple times in his life, and he has five children from those relationships. His second born daughter Rhonda from his first marriage sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 50.
12. Perro Aguayo Sr./Perro Aguayo Jr.
Perro Aguayo Sr. (Pictured Middle) was one of the biggest draws in Lucha Libre history. His career started in the 1970s and carried on well into the 1990s. He is perhaps best-known for his feud with Mexican wrestling icon El Santo. Aguayo Sr. also made one appearance in the WWE in a match at the 1997 Royal Rumble which also featured other Lucha Libre legends.
Perro Aguayo Jr. had a lot to live up to in order to match his father’s success, but he arguably had a better career than the elder Aguayo. He was the leader of the very popular CMML stable Los Perros del Mal. When he wasn’t competing for CMLL, he was a top draw for AAA. Aguayo Jr’s career was still going strong when he was killed in a freak accident during a match in 2015. Following his death, he was inducted into both the AAA Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
11. Bill DeMott/Keri DeMott
Bill DeMott as a wrestler is probably best known for his time spent in WCW as Hugh Morrus. While he mostly wrestled on the undercard, he did win a couple United States Championships in WCW’s dying days. He was also famously Goldberg’s first ever opponent in a televised match. After not doing much of note with the WWE in the early 2000s, DeMott decided to hang up his boots in order to become a full-time trainer for the company. He became the head trainer for WWE’s developmental system in 2012, and he held that position until his controversial departure in 2015.
DeMott had three children with his two marriages. His daughter Keri, who came from his first marriage, sadly passed away in 2015 when she was killed by a drunk driver. The driver of the car that killed her was charged with manslaughter and was eventually sentenced to 15 years in jail. DeMott now spends his free time advocating against drunk driving.
10. Paul “Butcher” Vachon/Luna Vachon
Paul “Butcher” Vachon was a member of the famous Vachon wrestling family. His wrestling career took place for the majority in the 1950s and ’60s. He would often team up with his more famous brother Maurice “Mad Dog’ Vachon. The brothers would compete and win titles in promotions that included the American Wrestling Association, National Wrestling Alliance and Georgia Championship Wrestling.
Paul Vachon was married four times and had six children. One of those children was Luna Vachon who he adopted in 1966. Luna went on to have an arguably more successful career than her father. She was best known for her time in spent with the WWE in the 1990s where she was notably Goldust’s manager. Luna would unfortunately pass away in 2010 at the age of 48 from a drug overdose.
9. Bobby Duncum Sr./Bobby Duncum Jr.
Bobby Duncum Sr. had a career that lasted nearly thirty years. He started his career in the late 1960’s wrestling in the WWWF, and would go on to also wrestle for NWA and AWA. During his career, the heel cowboy wrestled top stars such as Bob Backlund and Bruno Sammartino. While in the AWA he was also a member of the famous Heenan Family.
Bobby Duncum Sr. had a son in Bobby Jr. who also got into the wrestling business. Duncum Jr.played similar heel character like his father. He spent the early part of his career splitting time between Japan and ECW. However, Duncum Jr. is probably best known for his time spent in WCW during the late 1990’s. He was a member of the short-lived but popular faction The West Texas Rednecks. While recovering from surgery, Bobby Duncum Jr. died of an accidental overdose of painkillers on January 24, 2000.
Kamala is best known for his time spent in the WWE during the 1980s, where he was involved in feuds with the likes of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Hulk Hogan. The Ugandan Giant was one of the top heels in the WWE, but he left over money issues in 1987. While he would make a return to the company in 1992, all his momentum was gone.
Kamala, whose real name is James Harris has had a terrible life since his wrestling career was cut short. Both of his legs had to be amputated due to complications of high blood pressure and diabetes. To makes things worse for Harris he had to deal with some very tragic deaths of his family members. In 1993, both his sister and niece were murdered. In 2005, he was at his 35-year-old son’s bedside when he passed away from AIDS.
7. “Bullet” Bob Armstrong/Brad Armstrong
“Bullet” Bob Armstrong began his career back in 1960 and he wouldn’t wrestle his last match until five decades later in 2010. He wrestled the majority of his career for NWA affiliates all over the United States. His wrestling career had a slight resurrection when he was a part of TNA wrestling during the companies first few years in the early 2000s
As much as Bob Armstrong was a successful wrestler in his own right, he’s probably more famous for being the father of four wrestlers. All four of his sons followed his footsteps and joined the wrestling business. Scott became a referee, Steve was mostly a jobber and Brian is better known as Road Dogg. His second born son Brad was a talented wrestler, but never got the big push he deserved. Unfortunately, Brad passed away in November 2012 from a suspected heart attack.
6. Larry “The Axe” Hennig/Curt Hennig
Larry “The Axe” Hennig was a true powerhouse if there ever was one. His neck measured an incredible 22.” He had a lot of success early in his career teaming up with Harley Race. Hennig suffered a major knee injury in 1967 and although he continued wrestling into the 1980’s he was never the same.
Larry’s son Curt followed his father’s footsteps and joined the AWA in 1980. He would find a ton of success with the promotion, one holding the AWA World Heavyweight Championship once for 373 days. While he had great fortune in the AWA, once Curt took on the moniker of “Mr.Perfect” in the WWE, his career went to new heights. He is considered one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all-time. After also wrestling for WCW and TNA, Curt Hennig would pass away from a cocaine overdose in 2003.
5. Ric Flair/Reid Flair
There is not much that can be said that has not already been said about the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He is a 16-time world champion and is considered by some people to be the greatest wrestler of all-time. During his four-decade long career, Flair had a ton to celebrate about and he wasn’t shy about celebrating all night long.
While Flair certainly had some things to happy about, his life hasn’t all been just fun and games. Flair has dealt with marriage, legal, and money problems. However, the worst thing to happen in Flair’s life must have been the death of his son Reid in 2013. He was a 25-year-old aspiring wrestler when he lost his battle with a drug addiction. Reid’s drug problems were famously brought up in a 2015 WWE storyline between Paige and Reid’s sister Charlotte.
4. The Iron Sheik/Marissa Vaziri
The Iron Sheik is considered as one of the greatest heels in wrestling history. The anti-American famously lost the WWE Championship in 1984 to Hulk Hogan, which ultimately started the Hulkamania era. After retiring from full-time wrestling in 1996, he continues to make sporadic public appearances.
In recent years, The Iron Sheik has gotten the reputation of being a bit of a loose cannon. He hasn’t been afraid to say what is on his mind, and his Twitter account is a must follow. While the Sheik has been more open about his life recently, a fact you might not know is that his eldest daughter, Marissa, was strangled to death by her boyfriend in 2003.
3. Gorilla Monsoon/Joey Marella
Gorilla Monsoon was one of the most influential men in the history of professional wrestling. During his time as an in-ring performer, he was booked as a monster heel. During his career, he took on legendary opponents like Bruno Sammartino and Andre The Giant. He even famously got into an altercation with Muhammad Ali. After his wrestling career wrapped up in 1980, he would become the main commentator for the WWE from 1985 to 1992.
At the time Monsoon passed away in 1999, he had been married to his wife Maureen for over forty years. They had three children together. One of those children followed their father’s path and went into wrestling. Joey Marella wasn’t a wrestler, he instead became a referee. He officiated a bunch of huge matches in the WWE, including the Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant match at WrestleMania III. The adopted son of Gorilla Monsoon passed away in 1994 after he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed while driving home from a WWE event.
2. Stu Hart/Dean and Owen Hart
When it comes to some of the most influential people in wrestling history, Stu Hart’s name has to be near the top. While Stu was a wrestler himself, he’s best known for being a trainer and promoter. The list of the amazing wrestlers he trained in the infamous dungeon in Calgary is almost endless.Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit, Jake Roberts, Junkyard Dog, and Chris Jericho are just a handful of the wrestlers he trained. As the promoter with Stampede Wrestling, Stu gave many future greats a platform to learn the craft.
The Hart family is one of the most famous family’s in all of wrestling history. Stu had 12 children with most of them becoming wrestlers themselves or marrying other wrestlers. With that many children, the odds of something bad happening to one of them was greatly increased. Of his 12 children, Stu outlived two them. The first one was Dean Hart, who passed away in 1990 from kidney problems. Also, in one of the most shocking deaths in wrestling history, Owen Hart died in 1999 when he fell from the rafters during his entrance to the ring.
1. Fritz Von Erich/Jack, David, Mike, Chris, and Kerry Von Erich
The story of the Von Erich family is by far the most tragic in wrestling history. The family patriarch Fritz Von Erich, was a legend in the business. He held major titles all over the world and was the owner of World Class Championship Wrestling. Unfortunately for Fritz, his life outside the ring wasn’t so great, to say the least.
Fritz Von Erich had six sons, and he would tragically outlive five of them. His first son Jack died at the age of six when he was electrocuted by an exposed wire and drowned in a puddle. David, who most notably had a long time feud with Ric Flair, passed away in 1984 from a drug overdose. Kerry, who probably better known to wrestling fans as the “Texas Tornado”, committed suicide by a shot to the heart in 1993. Mike Von Erich, who felt like he could never live up the family name, committed suicide by overdosing on drugs in 1987. The youngest Von Erich son, Chris, had a body that just wasn’t cut out for wrestling. Feeling depressed, Chris shot himself in the head in 1991. The only surviving member of the Von Erich sons was Kevin, who was also the only one who got to help bury his father when Fritz passed away in 1997.
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