Legendary Wrestling Promoter Verne Gagne Dead at 89
One of the most iconic wrestling promoters in history has passed away: Verne Gagne is dead at age 89.
The news was confirmed by former colleague and friend Gene Okerlund, who tweeted his condolences:
Sad to hear my longtime friend Verne Gagne has passed today. To me their was never anybody quite like him. May you rest in peace. GO
— Gene Okerlund (@TheGeneOkerlund) April 28, 2015
Gagne had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for many years now, and the decline of his health resulted in a tragic incident in 2009, as the former world champion ended up killing another patient in the memory loss care facility in which he was living. Gagne reportedly pushed 97-year-old Helmut Gutmann, who fell and broke his hip. The confrontation resulted in Gutmann’s death, and although it was ruled a homicide, Gagne was never charged since he had no memory of the incident due to his dementia. However, he was no longer able to live in any more care facilities, and had to take up residence with his daughter Beth, and her husband Will.
An icon of Minnesota wrestling, and one of the top national stars of the 60s and 70s, Gagne founded the American Wrestling Association, a promotion Gagne ran from 1960 to 1991. It became the breeding ground for some of the future legends of professional wrestling, such as Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Jesse Ventura, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Scott Hall and Curt Hennig. In addition to giving many of these legends their first major, national exposure, he also trained his fair share of superstars. In fact, you could probably argue that no man ever trained more future Hall of Famers than Verne. He trained Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, The Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund, Gene and Ole Anderson, Blackjack Mulligan, and Curt Hennig, just to name a few.
Our condolences and thoughts are with the Gagne family at this time.