Wrestling legend ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham has passed away. He was 79-years-old.
Graham suffered with several health issues in recent years including organ failure, liver disease in 2012, cirrhosis and was recently put on life support.
He underwent a liver transplant in 2002 and suffered from a severe infection in January.
Fellow icon Ric Flair broke the news on Twitter.
The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us 🙏🏻 THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career! pic.twitter.com/YH0eT2NM4p
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) May 18, 2023
In high school, Graham (Wayne Coleman) was active in sports which led him to being a shot put champion. He was part of the 1959 Golden Gloves and later played for the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.
The winner of the Mr. Teenage America bodybuilding contest in 1961 he went on to a short career in that sport before spotlighting his incredible physique in professional wrestling.
He was trained by Stu Hart as a part of Stampede Wrestling before moving on to the AWA, WWE and NWA.
In the WWE, he rose to become heavyweight champion when he defeated Bruno Sammartino and ended his historic 1,237 day run with the belt. Graham would hold the title for 296 days before losing to Bob Backlund.
Graham’s flamboyant style inspired an entire industry including such legends as Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura.
TOP PHOTO: Billy Graham and Ric Flair. Photo by George Tahinos, georgetahinos.smugmug.com