Professional wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer, “Superstar” Billy Graham has passed away at the age of 79 after having been placed on life support earlier this week.
The wrestling world mourns today following the loss of WWE Hall of Famer, “Superstar” Billy Graham. Touted by many as the original WWE Superstar, Graham set the standard for the generation of wrestlers that came after him with his flashy sense of style, outrageous interviews, and bodybuilder bulk.
Graham, real name Eldridge Wayne Coleman, began is career in American football and bodybuilding before moving into professional wrestling. He tried out for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League at age 26, but was instead traded to the Montreal Alouettes where he only participated in a few games. As a bodybuilder, he trained with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and was featured in Muscle and Fitness magazine. During this time, Graham was able to bench press 605lbs (274kg), just 11lbs (5kg) short of the world record of the time.
During his impressive professional wrestling career, “Superstar” Billy Graham developed a unique style that included eccentric earrings, skintight T-shirts and long, vibrant tie-dyed tights in order to stand apart from his peers. He also coloured his hair and beard different colours. His time as the WWWF Heavyweight Champion from 1977 to 1978 helped him attain notoriety, toppling the great Bruno Sammartino to win the belt. In major professional wrestling promotions, he won World Championships three times.
Graham also acted as a mentor to future wrestling superstars such as Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Scott Steiner and Ric Flair. He left the ring in 1987 at the age of 44 and worked as a manager before becoming a colour commentator.
In 2004, Triple H presented “superstar” Billy Graham with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Two years later, the WWE documentary “20 Years Too Soon: The ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham Story” highlighted Graham’s motivational tale and impact on the sports entertainment industry.
After a year in which the legendary wrestler suffered from COVID-19, a potentially fatal ear infection that extended to his skull, lung inflammation, and possible kidney failure, Graham had recently been placed on life support. On May 15th, Graham’s wife, Valerie, provided a health update on her husband and warned his fans to prepare for the worst. She said she had first refused to have him taken off life support but she later allowed this to happen and Graham passed away with his wife and daughter at his side.
News of Graham’s death was broken by Ric Flair via Twitter, and later confirmed by TMZ.
Graham’s impact extended beyond “The Nature Boy.” Popular wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, commented, “My entire life, and tonnes of others from Flair to Hogan to Jesse to tonnes you wouldn’t know and tonnes you would change because of him.”
We join the wrestling world in mourning Graham’s passing and send best wishes to his family and friends. Rest in peace, “Superstar” Billy Graham.