CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Pro wrestling legend Ric Flair was hospitalized over the weekend, leading to calls for “prayers and positive energy” for The Nature Boy.
According to his talent representatives at Legacy Talent, Flair was admitted Saturday, August 12 for routine monitoring.
In a tweet Saturday, Legacy Talent CEO Melinda Morris Zanoni said there was “no reason to panic” regarding the former 16-time world champion’s condition. On Sunday, Zanoni said Flair was dealing with some “tough medical issues,” but did not elaborate.
Flair, 68, was born in Memphis, Tennessee and put up for adoption by his biological parents. His adoptive parents changed his birth name to Richard Fliehr. The young Flair lived in Detroit, Michigan and later Edina, Minnesota.
Flair made his professional wrestling debut in December 1972 while training under the great Verne Gagne and his AWA promotion. Flair left the AWA in 1974 and joined Jim Crockett Promotions (known as ‘Mid-Atlantic Wrestling’ at the time) and the National Wrestling Alliance.
In October 1975, Flair suffered a broken back when the small plane he was traveling in crashed. The crash claimed the life of the pilot and left fellow wrestler Johnny Valentine paralyzed. Flair was told he would never wrestle again. He was back in the ring eight months later.
Flair took the “Nature Boy” moniker in 1978 while feuding with the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers.
Flair won the first of his 16 recognized world championships in September 1981, when he defeated Dusty Rhodes for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
The 1980s proved to be Flair’s decade, as he recorded more world title reigns and earned great acclaim with feuds against the likes of Harley Race, the Von Erichs, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting. His flamboyance was on full display in the ring and especially in interviews. His charisma in front of the camera put him head and shoulders above nearly all of his peers.
Flair coined several catchphrases and fashioned new nicknames, referring to himself as “The Dirtiest Player in The Game” and “Slick Rick.” His braggadocious attitude carried through memorable quips, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,” and “Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because it’s the best thing going!”
Perhaps the thing most connected to Flair’s iconic lexicon isn’t a catchphrase or saying, but rather a cocksure exclamation — “Woo!”
Flair joined World Wrestling Entertainment (then WWF) in September 1991 and had feuds with Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, and–most notably–Hulk Hogan. He captured two more world championships during his stint.
Flair returned to World Championship Wrestling in 1993 and remained with the company until it folded in March 2001. Flair rejoined WWE in November 2001 and was an active in-ring competitor until his first retirement in March 2008. Flair left WWE after his contract expired and began wrestling for Total Nonstop Action and went on world tours with Hulk Hogan. Following a lengthy layoff due to injury, Flair announced a formal retirement in December 2012.