Are you an out of work lawyer looking to get back on your feet? Or maybe a legal expert desperate to try your hand in the field of criminal law? Perhaps you’ve recently graduated from college and you’re looking for some courtroom experience, or you’re fed up with life as an engineer or a builder and want to pursue your lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. There’s one simple answer to all your problems. Start a law firm that specializes in representing professional wrestlers.
Not all is as it seems in the world of pro wrestling. Underneath the glitzy veil the likes of Vince McMahon have spent decades building lies a murky world of criminal behavior ranging from drug use and robberies to assault and even murder. Even McMahon himself has spent his day in court, a fact many younger generation wrestling fans are perhaps not aware of. A steroid controversy in the early 1990s led to McMahon being indicted in a federal court, forcing him to temporarily hand control of the World Wrestling Federation to his wife Linda. He went to trial in 1994 but was acquitted of the charges thanks largely to testimony from Hulk Hogan who claimed McMahon never told him to take steroids.
When even the boss has brushed so closely with the law, it’s no surprise a culture of crime is rampant throughout the industry. Many wrestlers have admitted to, or been found guilty of, steroid use during their careers. Even more have admitted to an endless diet of pain medication and alcohol while at the peak of their powers. Others simply live their lives in a superficial world of fame and fortune where they genuinely believe the law doesn’t apply to them. Here’s 15 wrestlers who were also criminals. Some on this list have since redeemed themselves, but some are still having trouble with the law.
15. Booker T
Booker T spent 19 months in prison long before he became a superstar with WCW and then the WWE. He earned every month of that sentence too. In his younger days, Booker T worked at a Wendy’s in Texas. The wage he was earning just wasn’t cutting it, so he rounded up a few buddies and staged a series of armed robberies at different Wendy’s stores, wearing their working uniforms throughout. This all happened back in 1987 with a much younger Booker T pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery. He copped five years and served about a third of it behind bars before being released on parole.
He’s certainly changed his tune since then. He is truly one of the greatest redemption stories you could write.
14. Nick Gage
Gage spent his best wrestling years with Contact Zone Wrestling where he became the first ever Heavyweight champion in 1999. Three days before Christmas in 2010 he robbed a bank, handing a note to a female employee before walking out with about $3,000. He claims at the time he was homeless and penniless, due to a drug addiction. After the incident police released a photo of the robber, who was quickly identified as the popular wrestler Nick Gage. In 2011 he was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay back the money he pilfered. He was released early on March 31 this year.
Haku wrestled for both WWE and WCW and is commonly referred to by ex colleagues as
one of the toughest and scariest man they ever came across. Legend has it he was one of the only men Andre The Giant was afraid of, and it’s easy enough to see why. One night in Baltimore he was at a hotel and a group of men told him wrestling was fake. He responded by leaning over to one of the men and biting his nose clean off, earning himself an arrest for assault and confirming his tough guy reputation.
Sunny enjoyed a productive wrestling career as one of the first real modern day divas and even earned a place in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. Then in 2012, Sunny all of a sudden indulged in a bit of a crime spree. Somehow she managed to get herself arrested five times in the space of four weeks. The fifth of those arrests, for third degree burglary and violating a protective order, came just hours after she was released from a jail sentence punishing her for her fourth arrest. Just a few months later she was arrested for a sixth time for violating a protection order. She certainly knows how to misbehave.
11. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold’s ex wife Debra Marshall claims she was beaten up by her ex-husband three times while they were together. One of these episodes led to his arrest.
Police were called and came to the house, noticing Marshall had a large welt underneath one eye. Three years later she told interviewers Stone Cold had jumped on her, and pounded her in the back and her face. She also said she thought she was going to die. By the time police arrived, the assailant had fled. He eventually gave himself up, two months later, after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
10. Blackjack Mulligan
Blackjack Mulligan enjoyed an excellent wrestling career forming close ties with the likes of Andre The Giant and Ric Flair. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. But things weren’t always rosy for the Texas big man. In 1990 he was arrested with his son Kendall Windham after an investigation conducted by the secret service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The charge? Counterfeiting. Police found close to half a million dollars in phony $20 bills, leading to two years in jail for the father and son duo.
9. Lex Luger
Lex Luger found fame in the 90s with both the WWE and WCW. He went into semi retirement in the early 2000s, just as he began to lean on the wrong side of the law. In April of 2003 he was involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend Elizabeth Hulette (Miss Elizabeth) and charged with battery. Less than a month later she died in his arms after suffering a drug overdose.
Luger was arrested the next day on 13 counts of felony drug possession after police found more than 1,000 pills in their home. Hulette’s death was ruled accidental although Luger has stated since that he carries a burden of responsibility for the lifestyle he exposed her to. He was sentenced to five years probation which he broke in 2006, earning him a stint in jail.
8. Scott Steiner
Big Poppa Pump spent 10 days in a Georgia county jail in 1999 after pleading guilty to aggravated assault of a highway worker, and for making “terroristic threats”. In April of 1998 in Cherokee County, Scott Steiner threatened a Department of Transportation employee after he was told an exit ramp was closed. Steiner then hit the highway worker two times with his Ford F-250. Fortunately the victim wasn’t badly hurt. Steiner also received seven years probation, 200 hours of community service and fines totaling $25,000.
7. New Jack
Now here’s a man who has no regard for rules, and an almost unique ability to break the law while in the ring. His lowest moment came in 2004 while representing Thunder Wrestling Federation. New Jack was fighting William Jason Lane, and early in the match exposed a metal blade that he’d concealed on his way to the ring. He proceeded to stab his opponent 14 times with the object. Lane was forced off to hospital while New Jack was arrested on aggravated assault, although the charges were later dropped. Both wrestlers later said it was supposed to be a violent match, although New Jack clearly took things much too far.
6. Hardbody Harrison
Hardbody Harrison wrestled for WCW during the 1990s but was never a major name in the business. In 2007 he was convicted for keeping eight women as sex slaves in two separate Georgia homes. The charges included aggravated sexual abuse, forced labor, sex trafficking, and witness tampering. Harrison claimed the women were living in the two homes willingly, and were being trained as pro wrestlers. Harrison, a Gulf War veteran, was also accused of threatening to throw one of the women through a hotel window if she didn’t engage in sex with two customers. Hardbody Harrison was sentenced to life in prison.
5. Dino Bravo
Dino Bravo’s involvement in crime ultimately cost him his life. He quietly retired from wrestling in 1992 and began training wrestlers in his native Montreal. On March 10, 1993 he was found dead in his home with 17 bullets in his body. He was allegedly killed due to a cigarette smuggling ring he was involved in. Bravo had reportedly confided in his friends that his days were numbered, due to crossing the Mafia. He was a nephew by marriage of a Montreal crime boss and was alleged to have been involved with the organization for some time.
4. Scott Hall
In 1983, Scott Hall was charged with second degree murder after shooting and killing a man with his own gun. The charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence, although Hall has since spoken openly about the incident. Hall was working the bar of a Florida strip club the night of the shooting. “Course it was over a girl,” Hall told ESPN. “He smashed all the windows out of my car, I walked outside. The security guard was there watching the cars and I said ‘Where is he?’ He was around the corner talking to the manager who was my friend. I remember what he was wearing, what I was wearing, what it smelled like, it’s burned in my brain. I drilled him, he went down and his shirt went up, he was reaching for the gun so I reached for it too. We wrestled around with the gun, I took it and shot him in the head.”
A year later Hall was signed by the American Wrestling Association, and a super successful wrestling career began.
3. Ion Croitoru
Look up the word criminal in the dictionary and chances are you’ll see a picture of Ion Croitoru. A Brief introduction first…Mr. Croitoru was a Canadian born wrestler who did pretty well in some lesser promotions but only ever featured as a jobber in the WWE going by the name Johnny K-9. Croitoru was much more successful in his other career as the head of his local chapter in the Satan’s Choice motorcycle gang. His rap sheet includes four particular items of note.
In 1996, Croitoru and several bikie mates blew up a police station with a bomb causing $133,000 in damages. Yep, you read that right. Fast forward a couple of years and Croitoru was charged with murdering a lawyer and her husband, but the case against him and an accomplice collapsed after a long preliminary hearing.
In early 2011 he was charged with another murder, but once again avoided punishment when his trial was stayed. They got him eventually though. In 2013 he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder several rival gang members. He’s currently in jail, due out by the end of this decade.
2. Chris Benoit
He was responsible for the most shocking crime committed by a wrestler, and one that’s still fresh in the mind of wrestling fans worldwide. Benoit was found dead at his family home in June of 2007 alongside his wife and son. Investigators believe Benoit strangled his wife, before suffocating his son sometime afterwards. He then hanged himself with a weight machine, the final act of an horrific double murder suicide.
Four years earlier, Benoit’s wife Nancy had filed for divorce claiming she suffered from “cruel treatment”, but she withdrew the proceeding. She also dropped the restraining order she’d filed for, which had been prompted when Benoit allegedly threatened her and broke furniture in the home. Benoit was one of the leading wrestlers for WWE at the time and had won almost every belt available, but has now been expunged from WWE records and does not feature on the company’s alumni page of its website.
1. Douglas Whitton
He mever amounted to much in an independent pro wrestling career which ended in 1999 when he was sentenced to life in prison, without parole. It’s a fitting sentence for a truly horrible crime. Whitton, a recovering alcoholic, met a family at a church soon after checking himself out of a substance abuse center. They took him into their home and offered him accommodation. Whitton then killed all four members of the family living in the house including a nine-year-old boy. He bludgeoned and stabbed his way through the four murders, then reportedly stayed in the house for several days with the bodies.
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