Being a professional wrestler can be a tough grind. Wrestlers and other athletes both spend their athletic prime in the public eye, achieving a celebrity status that only lasts as long as their body will allow.
Fading out of the public eye can be a difficult thing for any type of celebrity, only athletes and wrestlers have a shorter window of fame than other entertainers do. Most of the old-school wrestlers we grew up watching are long out of the public eye now, and in many cases, have gone on to lead lives completely separate from pro wrestling. In other cases, however, pro wrestlers we loved from the '80s or '90s are actually still wrestling, just not on TV.
There is still a market for wrestlers who achieved fame back in the day, it's just not as glamorous as some would wish it to be. Conventions, speaking tours, and autograph signings are all a great way for ex-wrestlers to continue earning revenue through their old wrestling characters. Some wrestlers just keep on getting in the ring too, no matter how old they get.
Whether they are still making a living wrestling, or have gone on to do something entirely different, here are 8 old school wrestlers we loved, 7 we hated, and what they are up to now.
15 Loved: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
Hooooo!! What is Duggan up to now? He's still wrestling! Even though he's most likely eligible for the senior's discount at Country Kitchen Buffet, Duggan still gets in the ring regularly for independent promotions across the United States and Canada.
When he's not wrestling, Duggan performs wrestling-themed stand-up comedy on his 2x4 Comedy Tour. Duggan's comedy show is described as a one-hour show of storytelling and fan interaction. While it is a wrestling themed show, it is said to be entertaining for non-wrestling fans alike.
If stand-up comedy isn't your thing, Duggan still wrestles several times a year. Last July he won the "Danny Hodge Trophy Battle Royal" at an IWR show in Oklahoma. While the victory isn't as significant as winning the first ever Royal Rumble, considering his age it is still quite impressive.
14 Hated: The Honky Tonk Man
Some loved to hate the Honky Tonk Man, and others just hated him.
What is the "greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time" doing these days? The 64-year-old likes to keep busy on the golf course, having made enough money throughout his lengthy career to take it easy in his later years. Don't think he doesn't still wrestle, though, as he still takes bookings all over the world.
In 2016, Honky wrestled ten times, including four matches in England and a tour of New Zealand. He must figure if he's going to break out the "Shake Rattle 'N' Roll" he better get a free trip across the world for it.
Aside from being the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all-time, Honky's biggest honor might be that Eric Bischoff stated in his autobiography that he enjoyed firing Honky from WCW more than he enjoyed firing anyone else throughout his career. So that's something.
13 Loved: Tito Santana
Whether he was Tito Santana, one-half of Strike Force, or El Matador, fans loved Tito Santana. Okay, so very few people loved El Matador, but most fans loved Tito Santana.
What is the former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion up to these days? He's a Spanish teacher and basketball coach at a middle school in New Jersey. He's also taught gym as well. If Santana really wanted to make some money, however, he would charge adult wrestling fans for Spanish lessons, while Bobby Heenan makes smart aleck comments from the back of the class.
Santana still gets in the ring from time to time as well. The 63-year-old has already wrestled three times in 2017, all for shows in the New Jersey area where he lives with wife and three sons.
12 Hated: Iron Sheik
75- year-old Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known to wrestling fans as The Iron Sheik, hasn't wrestled a match in ren years. For the most part, The Iron Sheik is a retired grandfather of five.
In 2013, family friends crowdsourced enough money to produce a documentary on the Sheik's life and career. The Sheik was released to positive reviews in 2014. Some of the revenue earned from the film went to pay for ankle and knee surgeries that Sheik needed at the time.
Page and Jian Magen, Sheik's family friends and business managers, run a production company out of Toronto, and also manage Sheik's social media profiles, which are highly entertaining. They have also helped Sheik keep in the spotlight through television and radio appearances. They even once challenged controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to an arm wrestling contest during the height of the mayor's infamy in late 2013.
11 Loved: Koko B. Ware
Koko B. Ware (real name James Ware) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009. His Hall of Fame inclusion baffled many fans, as he was never someone the WWE featured prominently on their programming. Koko was one step above jobber level for most of his WWE tenure. That's the WWE Hall of Fame, however: it doesn't abide by any rules or logic.
Had the WWE known what Koko B. Ware would be up to in recent years, they almost certainly wouldn't have inducted him. WWE is currently suing Ware after they received notice from him that he intended to sue them for concussions he received while a WWE performer. There's no word on how Ware's suit against them is going.
Despite his concussion issues, Koko continues to wrestle on the independent scene from time to time. He wrestled on four independent shows in 2016 and two in 2015.
10 Hated: King Kong Bundy
Whether he was wrestling little people or in the main event of WrestleMania, King Kong Bundy was one of the biggest bad guys of the 1980s wrestling boom. While he was always a serious man during his wrestling career, his post-wrestling career is anything but. Bundy's post-wrestling life includes a stand-up comedy career.
Like many wrestlers of his day, Bundy has found out that his name still draws, even if he can no longer wrestle. The 59-year-old hasn't wrestled a match in a decade, but people will come out to see his comedy. Like other wrestlers who have transitioned to comedy, his shows are wrestling-focused.
In 2016, Bundy joined a class-action lawsuit against the WWE regarding the long-term impacts of concussions suffered while performing for the company.
9 Loved: Ricky Steamboat
64-year-old Ricky Steamboat is one of the most fondly remembered wrestlers from the 1980s. He's currently still employed by the WWE as an official ambassador. Steamboat had previously worked as a trainer in NXT, as well as a road agent.
in 2013, Steamboat left his position as a trainer with NXT after his son Richie was released from his developmental deal with WWE. Richie sustained a back injury which required surgery and ended his career.
During his 1989 feud with Ric Flair, Steamboat would bring his infant son Richie and wife Bonnie to the ring with him to play up his being a family man. What WCW didn't mention at the time was that Bonnie was Steamboat's third wife. He would divorce her in 2003 and marry his fourth wife in 2004.
8 Hated: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine wrestled his first match in 1970. His most recent match was on February 25th 2017 against Tito Santana. They went to a no-contest in New Jersey.
Now 65 years old, Valentine doesn't wrestle much these days. Like many wrestlers his age, he makes a living attending conventions and autograph signings, in addition to the few wrestling bookings he takes a year.
Sadly, Valentine lost one of his two daughters to cancer in 2014. Valentine's daughter Vanessa had been training with the Hart brothers in the '90s, but opted to give up wrestling to get married and have children. He and his wife Julie have one other daughter, Romaine, and live in the Tampa Bay area.
Valentine was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
7 Loved: Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Just the fact that Jake "The Snake" Roberts is still alive is reason enough to take up DDP Yoga. The 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat in part focused on Roberts' fall from grace due to his drug and alcohol issues. In 2005, WWE produced a documentary on Jake's life and career titled Pick Your Poison. The film was unflattering to Jake and focused on his drug and alcohol addiction.
Then in 2012, Jake Roberts moved into Diamond Dallas Page's house and began his resurrection. While there were bumps along the way, Jake lost weight, cleaned up, and got his life together while participating in DDP's yoga program. The story of Jake cleaning his life up was then made into another documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.
Now 61 years old, Jake seems farther away from death than he did in his 40s. He has plenty of reasons to live as well, as Jake has eight children born to several mothers.
6 Hated: Ted DiBiase
When "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase was an active wrestler, he was the epitome of evil. He was a man that set out to prove every man has a price, that anyone would sell out their morals and ideals for the all mighty dollar. Outside of the ring, he encourages people to go the very opposite route as an ordained Christian minister.
DiBiase now travels the world as a minister, and speaks to churches and Christian groups across the country. He authored the book Every Man Has His Price, which is a reflection on his life combined with his Christian teachings.
The 63 year old had three sons with his wife Melanie. All three sons became professional wrestlers, the most notable being Ted DiBiase Jr. who wrestled in WWE from 2007 to 2013.
5 Loved: Kamala
Kamala was a bad guy for most of his career, up until his babyface turn in 1993. After losing a coffin match to The Undertaker, the Reverend Slick returned to WWE and set out to show Kamala that he was human. The angle kind of bombed and Kamala was gone from the company that summer.
The 66-year-old has had a rough time of it in recent years. Diabetes and high blood pressure caused the amputation of both his legs. Kamala now lives in Mississippi with his niece, and earns money selling his own handmade chairs and collecting disability.
Kamala, whose real name is James Harris, is part of a class action lawsuit against the WWE filed in 2016. The suit alleges WWE withheld information about the long-term impacts of concussions.
4 Hated: Rick "The Model" Martel
Rick "The Model" Martel was not only a prominent figure in WWE during the 1980s, as he also brought us the wonderful cologne "Arrogance." Just don't spray that cologne in your eyes, as that nearly blinded Jake Roberts once.
After a 25-year career, Rick Martel is happily retired and living with his wife and daughter in Quebec. The 61-year-old Martel was smart with his money and told WWE.com that his goal for his post-wrestling life is to travel the world. Martel says he got to see plenty of the world while on the road with WWE, but now he wishes to see it a second time with his family.
Martel retired in 1998 due to injuries. He was a member of WCW at the time. He stayed on with the promotion as a trainer and host of French-language shows until the company was purchased by WWE.
3 Loved: Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund may have been the last champion in WWE lineage who abided by the real old-school mindset that pro wrestlers should have an amateur wrestling background. In fact, Backlund refused to drop the championship to Hulk Hogan in 1983 because Hogan didn't have a background in the more legitimate version of wrestling. Backlund instead dropped the belt to The Iron Sheik who was an assistant coach for the USA wrestling program in the 1970s.
Bob Backlund is currently employed by the WWE and is acting as a manager for Darren Young. The duo has been out of action since early 2017, as Young rehabs an arm injury he suffered in a match against the Shining Stars.
The 67-year-old Backlund has had an interesting career outside of pro-wrestling. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2000. His wife Corki is a PE teacher, and they live in Connecticut with their daughter Carrie.
2 Hated: Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
In 2002 Bobby Heenan announced to the world that he had throat cancer. His appearance changed drastically afterwards. He lost a lot of weight, and the surgery required his jaw to be rebuilt. In 2013, Jim Ross let Heenan's fans know that he is still hanging in there, but has trouble speaking. Heenan has also suffered from tongue cancer as well.
It has been a rough 15 years for Heenan, as he has continued to battle health problems. The 72-year old became a grandfather in 2008. He has been married to his wife Cynthia Jean since 1974.
Heenan played a major role in WWE during the Hulkamania boom in the 1980s. Following the first WrestleMania, most of Hogan's challengers were managed by Bobby Heenan. The most notable, of course, was Andre the Giant, who he managed when he faced Hogan at WrestleMania III.
1 Loved: Hulk Hogan
In the 1980s, we loved Hulk Hogan. In the late 1990s, we hated Hollywood Hogan. In the early-2000s we loved Hogan again. Then he went to TNA and we were indifferent to Hogan. Then some recordings of Hulk came out and we were left not too sure what to think of him.
In 2015, audio recordings were leaked of Hogan dropping some racial slurs in reference to daughter Brooke's African-American boyfriend at the time. In Hogan's defence, however, there was literally not one wrestler from his past who claimed Hogan actually is racist. In fact, several wrestlers spoke up to say they were quite positive Hogan was not racist. Many just kind of assume Hogan was going through a rough time and was manipulated into saying what he did. All the same, Hogan's reputation took a beating.
The 63-year-old took Gawker (the company behind the leaks) to court in 2016, and ended up bankrupting the company as a result. It is expected that Hogan will return to WWE someday once the nastiness surrounding the recordings is forgotten by the public.
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