WWE Hall of Famer “Superstar” Billy Graham has died at the age of 79. Fellow wrestling legend Ric Flair broke the news on Twitter on Wednesday.
“The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career!” he wrote.
Graham had been in the hospital for a number of months dealing with a ‘myriad of very serious health issues’ and had been in the ICU for many weeks, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help him and his family.
Graham died Wednesday after being taken off life support with his wife and daughter by his side, his family told TMZ.
Who is Billy Graham?
Graham, whose real name is Eldridge Wayne Coleman, was both a bodybuilder and a Canadian Football player before getting into professional wrestling in the late 1960s.
He made his then-World Wrestling Federation debut in 1975 and was a three-time world champion in various wrestling promotions.
Graham’s last fight took place in 1987, and he followed that up by working as a commentator for the next year.
The wrestler was in a feud with Vince McMahon after he hung up the boots, and has been outspoken about steroid use, but he returned to the WWE in 2004 where he was named to the company’s Hall of Fame ahead of WrestleMania XX. He made several other appearances with the company through 2009 before not returning again until 2015.
Health issues had plagued Graham for years – he received a liver transplant in 2002, but in 2012, he was diagnosed with third-stage liver disease and cirrhosis. He had his toes amputated in August and was hospitalized with an ear and skull infection in January.
The most recent update on Graham’s GoFundMe came in April:
“It has now been four months since Wayne has not been home, he has either been at the rehab center, or in the hospital. Due to ongoing issues from his lack of appetite he has now lost 80 pounds and subsequently continues to struggle with extreme weakness,” the April 26 update read. “The Osteomyelitis infection in his ears, skull and sinus cavity remains his greatest challenge. He’s on strong IV antibiotics 3 times a day to treat this and the infectious disease doctor says he will need to be on them for at least 3 more months. As a result of this infection, he is currently completely deaf. We’re praying this is temporary, and will resolve as the infection is treated. He has intermittently also suffered with kidney issues, and been on dialysis. This in addition to Billy having heart and lung concerns, sores from being in bed for 4 months and depression.