One of the most famous families in the history of wrestling is the Von Erichs. It’s a story filled with tragedy, however, with all but one of the sons taken too early. Today we look at another Von Erich tale, specifically one involving Kerry and his foot.
After World Class star David Von Erich’s sudden death in 1984, his younger brother ‘The Modern Day Warrior’ Kerry Von Erich became the heir apparent to the Von Erich Dynasty. Kerry would go on to win the NWA world title from Ric Flair later that year. At 24 years old, he would become just the second youngest NWA world champion of all time. Everything appeared to be headed upward for Kerry’s career. That is until a motorcycle crash nearly ended his life…
The date was June 4th, 1986, Kerry Von Erich was riding his motorcycle around his home in Texas. Kerry was not wearing a helmet or any protective gear. He was going at a high rate of speed weaving in and out of traffic. That is when he hit the back of a police car sending Kerry crashing to the pavement. Kerry suffered multiple injuries including a dislocated hip, a badly ravage right leg and internal injuries. Kerry was lucky to have survived such a horrific crash.
Doctors in Dallas had to remove muscle from other body parts to help save his leg which was virtually crushed. His accident, business wise, couldn’t have happened at a worse time because both the WWF and Jim Crockett Jr. were making big plays to take their promotions national. Business began to dwindle for the once red hot World Class Championship Wrestling. The father Fritz Von Erich felt that he needed his biggest star Kerry to help save WCCW.
Six months after his devastating near fatal accident, Kerry Von Erich returned to the ring. It took a large quantity of drugs to get him to wrestle but that’s exactly what Kerry did. While his return match against Brian Adias didn’t last that long, it proved to be extremely costly. His right foot which was not nearly ready for such extraneous work was re-broken. This time sadly for Kerry, his foot had to be partially amputated.
The partial amputation of his right foot still didn’t slow down Kerry as he was still ready and willing to climb in the ring with a prosthetic foot. Fritz Von Erich made the doctors and staff that worked on Kerry take an oath not to reveal his son’s foot was cut off. Kerry also made his surviving family swear to him that his secret would never be revealed to anyone. His foot would remain a secret until November 12th, 1988.
It was at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada during a TV taping for Verne Gagne’s AWA promotion. Kerry was wrestling Colonel Debeers in a one on one match. During the course of the contest, Debeers was on the outside of the ring, he unknowingly grabbed Kerry’s right foot and tried to pull him into the ring post when Kerry’s boot accidentally came off. His amputated foot was revealed to Debeers and several fans at ringside. Von Erich quickly grabbed his boot, jumped out of the ring and stuck his leg under the ring apron where he quickly put his boot back on.
Word of this incident started making the rounds with Kerry and the AWA denying that such a thing happened. It all started to make sense for the boys who wrestled because Kerry allegedly always came to the arenas already dressed to wrestle or he actually showered with his boots on. Legendary magazine editor Bill Apter tried to find out the truth about Kerry’s foot to which Kerry promised to show him his foot with his boot off at Superclash III in Chicago. That moment between Apter and Von Erich never took place.
The initial motorcycle accident and rushed recovery led Kerry to an addiction to several drugs. An addiction that found Kerry on the wrong side of the law several times. It also led to his divorce and eventual suicide. After Kerry’s death, Fritz Von Erich finally admitted what everyone pretty much knew: that his son’s foot was amputated.
For those wondering if a tape exists of his infamous match against Col. Debeers, nobody knows for sure. If it does exist then it hasn’t been released to the public. Some have said that the cameras weren’t rolling for that match as it was a’dark match’ before the actual tapings. Either way, a truly sad ending to a once-promising career.