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The Von Erich family is a wrestling family. Their actual birth names are "Adkisson", but every member of the family that went into the wrestling business used the ring name "Von Erich", after the family patriarch, Fritz (real name - Jack).
Patriarch Fritz lived until his natural death, but 4 of his sons died before him within a 9-year span (as well as his eldest son who was electrocuted as a child). David died in 1984 under circumstances that were disputed for years, while Michael, Kerry, and Chris all committed suicide in subsequent years. Kevin Von Erich is the sole survivor of the Von Erich sons.
The third generation of Von Erichs are in the process of forming; as Lacey Von Erich is now in the business, and Ross Von Erich (Kevin's son) is contemplating entering the squared circle himself.
Fritz Von Erich
Fritz Von Erich was born on August 16, 1929 in Jewett, Texas. Standing 6'4" tall and weighing 240 lbs, Fritz was an imposing figure who quickly became a top heel in the wrestling business due, in no small part due to his devastating finishing maneuver, "The Iron Claw."
Originally trained by Stu Hart, Fritz became a top star in many National Wrestling Alliance promotions, most notably in St. Louis and in World Class Championship Wrestling. He held a variation of the AWA World Heavyweight Title at one time in the 1960s.
Despite never winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, he maintained his presence within the Alliance, holding many other major belts. Fritz also served shortly as NWA President in the 1970s, as well as President of WCCW when it moved to Dallas, Texas. Fritz was also a major part of Japanese wrestling, where he was known as "Tetsu no Tsume" (in English, "The Iron Claw"), and helped rebuild the business after the death of Rikidōzan.
Fritz is the father of the other members of the Von Erich family, and the grandfather of Kevin's son, Ross; and Kerry's daughters Lacey and Hollie. He died of lung cancer which spread to his brain in 1997.
Jack Adkisson, Jr.
Fritz Von Erich's first son died after accidentally being electrocuted and drowning in a puddle at the age of 7 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, as we learned in the Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD .
Kevin Von Erich
Born May 15, 1957 in Belleville, Illinois, "The Golden Warrior" Kevin Von Erich is the second oldest son of Fritz Von Erich.
The majority of Kevin's career was spent working in World Class Championship Wrestling, where he had many memorable feuds against legendary wrestlers such as Chris Adams, The Fabulous Freebirds, and Ric Flair. It was there that Kevin became known for utilizing the body scissors and iron claw as his trademark manoeuvers, as well as wrestling barefoot.
Kevin retired in 1995 and is now settled down with his family and working in real estate. He has been married for over twenty five years and has two daughters, two sons, and a grandchild. He occasionally makes appearances in wrestling shows, but never wrestles. He is the sole survivor of the sons of Fritz Von Erich. Though he remained in Texas for several years after his retirement, Kevin and his family eventually moved to Hawaii.
In May 2006, Kevin sold the World Class footage to Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment. By July 2006, Kevin had made two brief appearances at WWE shows when they filmed in Dallas, one before the sale and one after. In his first appearance, at WWE Homecoming, he beat down Rob Conway with several other legends, even applying the legendary Von Erich Claw. He also made a brief appearance on the July 15, 2006 episode of WWE Saturday Night's Main Event. Kevin still owns Southwest Sports Inc (which distributed its syndicated World Class broadcasts as well as Championship Sports), which he renamed K.R. Adkisson Enterprises Inc.
Kevin now hosts WWE 24/7's show "History of WCCW" along with Michael Hayes.
David Von Erich
David had many memorable feuds, mostly in Fritz's World Class Championship Wrestling promotion. It was there that he faced off with Harley Race and later Ric Flair several times for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (never winning), as well as teamed with brothers Kevin and Kerry against the Fabulous Freebirds. David also wrestled in Missouri, winning the Missouri Heavyweight Championship on a couple of occasions.
David died in 1984, reportedly shortly before he was booked to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair. (Although many insist that, before he died, David was scheduled to carry the NWA belt, there has never been anything concrete to substantiate this fact, nor have any NWA board members come out and confirmed this story.)
The official doctor's report states that he died of acute enteritis, but Ric Flair stated in his autobiography To Be the Man that "everyone in wrestling believes" it was a drug overdose that really killed him and that Bruiser Brody (a fellow wrestler who found David) disposed of the narcotics by flushing them down a toilet before the police arrived. Mick Foley also claims that he died from an apparent drug overdose. Brody, a close friend of Von Erich, would later admit that he overreacted in the moment of tragedy and flushed David's pain killers down the toilet. It has been confirmed that David Von Erich's official cause of death was a heart attack caused by ruptured intestines, which were the result of acute enteritis.
A tribute show was held a couple of months later in his honor, during which his younger brother, Kerry Von Erich, won the NWA title from Ric Flair.
Kerry Von Erich
Kerry Von Erich is the fourth son of Fritz Von Erich. He was born on February 3, 1960 in Niagara Falls, New York. Known as "The Modern Day Warrior" and "The Texas Tornado," Kerry was by far the best-known of the Von Erich Family.
Much like his brothers, Kerry spent the majority of his career wrestling in World Class Championship Wrestling. Amongst the many major feuds he had were those against Gino Hernandez, Iceman Parsons, Chris Adams and The Fabulous Freebirds.
Kerry became the most successful of the Von Erich family when he won the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair at the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, a tribute show to his deceased older brother. Kerry lost the belt three weeks later to Flair. Kerry also wrestled for several months in both the World Wrestling Federation (where he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam on August 27, 1990) and Global Wrestling Federation, two national promotions that were rising to fame at the expense of regional promotions such as WCCW.
On June 4, 1986, Kerry was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. With a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg, Kerry was in bad shape. Doctors tried hard, but could not save his foot, eventually amputating it. According to brother Kevin, Kerry injured the foot following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely, thus forcing the doctors to amputate it. He was able to continue wrestling after the accident with a prosthesis and until his death kept the amputation secret to the majority of fans and even some fellow competitors.
Kerry had a history of drug problems. Amongst the many of them were two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. After the second, which violated the probation and likely would have resulted in extensive jail time, Kerry committed suicide by a shot to the heart in 1993 on his father's ranch.
Mike Von Erich
Mike Von Erich, born March 2, 1964 in Dallas, Texas, was the fifth son of Fritz Von Erich.
Mike replaced David in the feud the Von Erichs had with the Fabulous Freebirds following David's death. According to the DVD Heroes of World Class, Mike wanted to work for World Class as a cameraman and had no interest in being in the ring, but Fritz forced him into the ring after David's death.
After suffering a shoulder injury in 1985 on a tour of Israel, Mike was forced to have surgery. Shortly after, it was discovered that he suffered from Toxic shock syndrome, a rarity in men, and according to Ric Flair, was forced back into the ring by Fritz much too early. Eventually, Mike had to retire after not being able to return to the ring at full strength anymore. He committed suicide in 1987 by intentional overdose of a tranquilizer.
Chris Von Erich
Born September 30, 1969 in Dallas, Texas, Chris Von Erich was the youngest, shortest, and least athletic of the Von Erich family. He made many attempts to succeed in the squared circle due to an incredible love of wrestling that kept him going despite numerous injuries. He managed one major feud with Percy Pringle in the USWA/World Class, but his career didn't take off like the rest of the family's.
After several years of not being able to succeed in the wrestling business, Chris became depressed and frustrated. He was also heartbroken over the loss of his brothers. He committed suicide in 1991.
Ross Von Erich
Ross Von Erich is the stage name of David Ross Adkisson. He is the son of Kevin Von Erich and the grandson of Fritz Von Erich, and the heir to the Adkisson family name and Von Erich legacy. Ross, like his father before him is also a football player. He is also an alumnus of Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas. Ross returned to Texas to attend college in 2008, according to the family website, and reportedly has wrestled a couple of times.
Lacey Von Erich
Born July 17, 1986 in Dallas, Texas, she is the daughter of Kerry Von Erich and the granddaughter of Fritz Von Erich. Lacey signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment on August 7, 2007. She was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa where she made her debut on September 15, 2007 managing Billy Kidman. On September 25, 2007, Lacey then appeared as the valet for Ryan O' Reilly along with Maryse. On October 9, 2007 Lacey made her in-ring debut in a loss against Nattie Neidhart. She was released from her development contract in late 2007, and concentrated solely on modeling.
But on March 8, 2008, Lacey returned to the ring with Missy Hyatt in her corner in a match against Angel Orsini in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, located just west of Newark. Wrestling barefoot (like her uncle Kevin), Lacey won the match by defeating Orsini with the Iron Claw. Orsini dominated most of the match until interference by Hyatt gave Lacey the chance to win. Lacey becomes one of the very few third generation female wrestlers in the business, following the footsteps of her father Kerry and grandfather Fritz.
On March 28, 2008, Lacey made her debut in Professional Championship Wrestling in Arlington, TX. She teamed up with World Class legend, Action Jackson to defeat Mike Foxx & Claudia in a mixed tag team match.
Posted on Pro Wrestling Revolution's website that she will join the company June 7, 2008. She is also competing in various NWA promotions, the first time a Von Erich has been a part of the NWA in 13 years.
Lacey continues to train with various wrestling veterans, most notably Tom Prichard and Steve Keirn. Lacey in recent weeks began using the leg scissors, another trademark her uncle Kevin was famous for.
Waldo Von Erich
Waldo Von Erich was the stage name of Canadian professional wrestler Walter Sieber. Though billed as the brother of Fritz Von Erich when they teamed, he is not related to the Adkisson family. Waldo is retired and currently working in therapy.
Lance Von Erich
Lance Von Erich was the stage name of Dallas-born professional wrestler William Kevin Vaughn. He was billed for a brief period of time in the 1980s as the son of Waldo Von Erich, but there was no biological relation between the two. Lance also has no biological relation to the Adkisson family.
Many people, in discussions about pro wrestling, including Rowdy Roddy Piper, (in his own autobiography In the Pit with Piper: Roddy Gets Rowdy), have said that the Von Erich family, among numerous other wrestler deaths in the last several years, is a prime example of how the wrestling business is run and how promoters tend to treat wrestlers like a disposable resource. In his autobiography, To Be the Man, Ric Flair disagrees with Piper, saying that it was not wrestling that killed the Von Erichs, it was drugs. Flair also stated that he partially blames Fritz, because if Fritz had not lived in denial, and made his sons accountable for their behavior, they might well be alive today.