Inside Ric Flair's Health Crisis: The Alcohol Battle That Led to His Critical Hospitalization and What's Being Done Now
Wrestling icon Ric Flair's alcohol intake exacerbated his health issues, leaving him hospitalized with part of his bowel removed
Leave it to Ric Flair to have a false finish with death.
The “Dirtiest Player in the Game” has cheated again, and this time the opponent was his own mortality.
Flair was rushed to the hospital last Saturday at an undisclosed Georgia hospital, yet put his boot on the ropes before the referee could count to three.
There has been a flurry of inaccurate reports regarding the condition of Flair, who is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia. Per a source close to the family, Flair did not undergo heart surgery nor did he suffer a heart attack. Upon medical attention, what was thought to be an intestinal blockage wound up requiring part of his bowel be removed.
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Flair’s alcohol intake has exacerbated his issues. He spoke with Sports Illustrated on Aug. 8, admitting that drinking has been a major issue throughout his career.
“I had one vice,” admitted Flair. “I’m not going to point my finger at anybody else. My vice was drinking. I didn’t have any pain issues, addiction problems, marijuana, cocaine, nothing like that. It’s a fact that I kept myself up all night and always had a good time.”
Recognized as a 16-time world champion in professional wrestling, Flair is arguably the most recognizable name in the entire profession. His trademark “Whooooo!” has transcended wrestling and is now prevalent throughout pro sports and modern day society.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Ric kicked out at two-and-a-half,” said Terry Funk, who was one of Flair’s fiercest rivals and remains his longtime friend. “That’s all I wanted. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my friend.”
Funk, who is five years Flair’s senior, recalled first meeting Flair in 1972.
“I still recall the first time I laid eyes on Ric,” said Funk. “Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch were wrestling, at the time, in Minnesota, and they took a liking to this kid who’d been hanging around the matches. That kid was Ric Flair, and they brought him to my ranch in Amarillo, Texas.
“Dusty and Dick said to me, ‘You’ve got to meet this kid. He’s a nut.’ So they went to the car to go get him, and I saw him open the car door and heard him holler, ‘Whoo!’ Right then, I knew that boy had to be in the business.”
Funk noted that Flair’s talent, hard work, and charisma helped him craft a career that will likely never be seen again.
“Ric Flair is a wonderful person, and he was such a great in-ring performer,” said Funk. “He had a great deal to do with the direction of the business. There are great characters that have come into this business, but Flair can’t be duplicated.
“I’m very much hoping Ric makes a full recovery. I got a phone call from a promoter in the Carolinas who told me Ric was doing better, but I’m worried to death about it. We’d be missing something in this world if he’s gone.”
Flair will need significant time for his entire body to recover. The surgery led to further complications, which could force a hospital stay of over a month. Flair is an extremely prideful man and the family is asking for privacy during his recovery process.
“There never was one like Ric Flair, and there will never be another one like him,” said Funk. “I think the world of him, and I want him around.”
This article originally appeared on Si.com