The wrestling world lost one of its most beloved members yesterday as Brian Hildebrand, known professionally as Mark Curtis, died in his home in Talbot, TN. He was 37.

Bob Ryder and 1wrestling.com broke the story earlier this evening, reporting on the unfortunate passing of the former WCW referee.

Hildebrand had been courageously battling stomach cancer the past year. Despite feeling the adverse effects of the disease, including losing a lot of weight, Hildebrand remained optimistic he would beat the disease, never complaining about his unfortunate predicament.

Hildebrand served as Jim Cornette’s right-hand man in Smoky Mountain wrestling, on top of his refereeing duties, before moving to WCW in 1996. Trained by wrestling legend Domenic DeNucci, Hildebrand was in the same training camp as Shane Douglas and Mick Foley.

Hildebrand was generally regarded as the nicest man in the pro wrestling business, respected and liked by everybody he worked with. He was known for his friendly demeanor and his undying love and passion for the wrestling business.

Top photo: Chris Candido with the headlock on Tracy Smothers, with Brian Hildebrand as the referee, and Tammy Sytch at ringside. Photo by Mike Lano, [email protected]