This is the 54th installment of the ‘Wrestling with Sin’ series. A group of stories that takes a look at some of the darker, seedier stories in pro wrestling. Many of the topics discussed deal with things such as lust, greed, revenge, jealousy and sometimes even murder! As with every single story in the Sin series…we do not condone or condemn the alleged participants involved with these incidents.
In May of 2015, a young, 16 year old female wrestler nicknamed ‘Akira’ competed against a much larger female wrestler nicknamed Hexia for a promotion called Maniac Zone Wrestling in Poland. During the course of the match, Hexia clothes lined and then choke slammed Akira to the mat. Akira immediately lost consciousness and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Three days later, the 16 year old Akira was pronounced dead.
The determination by the medical examiner was that Akira sustained a traumatic spinal injury that led to her untimely death. The police have since launched an investigation into the young lady’s death and why an underage individual was allowed to wrestle in the first place. Maniac Zone Wrestling suspended operations while the investigation is ongoing. They did release a statement on the death of Akira. This is what was said on Facebook, translated from Polish.
“We regret to inform you that our rider Akira passed away … For now, they are not known the cause of her death. The case is being investigated. At the moment, the organization plunged into mourning and suspended its operations for an indefinite period.”
The Burke Stops Here
Mildred Burke was a female wrestler who competed against both women and men in the 1930’s to the 1950’s. She was recognized as a world women’s champion for over 20 years. Burke’s career was managed by her second husband, a man named Billy Wolfe. Billy Wolfe managed a stable of over 30 women wrestlers that included his wife Mildred Burke. The marriage was not a stable one…as allegations arose that Wolfe would physically, verbally and mentally abuse both Burke and her son from her previous marriage. It was also alleged that Wolfe was a notorious womanizer that slept with numerous female wrestlers from his stable.
It was speculated that both Wolfe and Burke carried on affairs during their marriage. As expected, the two would file for divorce in the early part of the 1950’s and subsequently Burke found herself blackballed from many of the regions governed by the National Wrestling Alliance. Burke would fight her blacklisting and take the matter to court…where she was basically discriminated against because she was a woman. Billy Wolfe was awarded all the women that were managed by both Wolfe and Burke but many refused to go to work for Wolfe..opting to stay with Mildred instead.
Billy Wolfe would go on to be married 5 times with his last marriage at age 60 to a 17 year old. Mildred, still blacklisted by the NWA, founded her own wrestling school and promotion in California called the World Wide Women’s Wrestling Association. After she retired from wrestling Mildred continued training future female grapplers and also delved into pornography.
While she did not actively get participate in any sexual activities or nudity on camera…Burke did film other females wrestling in the nude. Mildred Burke passed away from a stroke in 1989 at the age of 73.
Ed ‘The Bull’ Gantner had a brief career in pro wrestling in the mid 1980’s. He wrestled primarily for the territory down in Florida. Despite his brief two year career…many compared his career to that of a young Lex Luger and predicted that Gantner would have the same meteoric rise. His wrestling career…however ended abruptly due to his kidneys failing. The reason they were failing were because of years of steroid abuse. He began taking steroids when he was in high school to bulk up and play football and when his football career didn’t pan out he continued using them for a career in professional wrestling.
After being on dialysis – his sister donated a kidney to him – he started to recover but began using steroids again. The combination of steroids, and his battle with depression, led to Gantner sadly spiraling mentally down hill. He would either go into violent fita of rage or just stare blankly in a dark room. He was later admitted to a mental facility where he stayed as he battled severe paranoia and depression. A year later, on New Year’s Eve of 1990, Ed Gantner took a handgun and shot himself in the heart while sitting in his parents home. He was only 31 years old.
Ring of Honor star Jay Briscoe found himself in a bit of hot water when he tweeted out a homophobic remark in 2013. Briscoe tweeted…
“The Delaware Senate passed a bill yesterday that allows same sex couples to get married. If that makes you happy, then congratulations!!!!!! … try and teach my kids that there’s nothing wrong with that and I’ll f*cking shoot you”
The remark led to Ring of Honor denouncing the comment and making Briscoe issue a public apology. Briscoe said in a statement that the comments were from his wrestling persona and were not how he truly felt about homosexuals. He then said he would donate the next two weeks pay to a charitable organization that deals with hate crimes. This apparently wasn’t the first time Briscoe made a remark about the gay lifestyle. In 2011, Briscoe said this on Twitter….“Damn theres a lot of fags out in New York today #WhatTheFuck”
There were rumors that the WWE were highly interested in signing Jay and his brother Mark to contracts before the remarks in 2013 came to light and since backed off. That of course is purely rumor but it certainly wouldn’t be highly odd considering the company’s strict stance on controversies like that.
You can read all previous ‘Wrestling with Sin’ pieces here.