Pro wrestling legend “Superstar” Billy Graham has died, World Wrestling Entertainment says.
He was just short of his 80th birthday.
Graham, whose real name was Eldridge Wayne Coleman, was born on June 7, 1943 in Phoenix.
Graham’s “flashy fashion style, over-the-top interviews and bodybuilder physique created the archetype for a generation of Superstars that followed in his footsteps,” WWE says.
He was, according to WWE, “perhaps the single-most influential performer in WWE history whose interviews, fashion and physique inspired Hulk Hogan, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura and Scott Steiner.”
It notes that his “greatest WWE achievement” was taking the WWE championship from fellow wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino in April 1977. He held onto the title for almost a year.
Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
He retired in 1987, at the age of 44, and became a manager and then a color commentator.
Graham’s wife wrote early Monday on his Facebook page that that he was on life support in a hospital and doctors wanted to take him off, but she refused.
“He’s a fighter and his will is strong even if his body isn’t,” she wrote. “God is our hope.”
Graham suffered from medical issues for months, according to a GoFundMe page. He’d lost 80 pounds as of April 26 and was enduring kidney, heart and lung problems.
The former wrestler has struggled with his health before. In his autobiography, Graham wrote about a history of drug abuse, which led to a liver transplant in 2002.
Thanks for reading CBS NEWS.
Create your free account or log in
for more features.