Grappling with Tragedy is a series of articles that deal with unfortunate, tragic incidents that have occurred throughout the history of professional wrestling. It is unlike the ‘Wrestling with Sin’ series that deals more with the seedier side of wrestling like arrests, murders and suicides. Grappling looks more at particular tragic incidents that have in some instances altered pro wrestling in some way.
Nino Equatore was born in a small town in Italy called Merano in 1898. He grew up very poor and initially took a job as a baker to make a living. Due to his size and strength, he was discovered by an Italian promoter and recommended he try wrestling. It would lead him to great success, fame and fortune. Equatore travelled all throughout Europe and wrestled the biggest names in European wrestling. Equatore was called the “King of the Double Nelson.” As a world champion, he once wrote…”To appreciate fame, one must once have been poor.”
He would capture the Italian version of the world title and wrestle for four decades on four different continents. After he retired from active competition as both a wrestler and promoter, Equatore emigrated to Venezuela where he became a stuntman and trainer to future wrestlers. He announced that he was planning an autobiography of his life and career…however it never materialized.
While living in Venezuela, Equatore seriously injured his leg in a car accident. Several doctors recommended that Equatore amputate a portion of his injured leg, Equatore refused insisting on rehabilitating it himself. Thankfully and luckily he managed to save his leg from amputation. His career, however, was over as a wrestler, trainer and stuntman.
With no income coming in, Equatore ended up penniless and homeless. Many of his friends turned their backs to him in his time of need. He had moved back to his childhood home of Merano to seek a better life, but could not find work. On November 24th, 1965…Nino Equatore was found frozen to death while sleeping on a park bench. Equatore died how he lived before success as a wrestler…poor and alone. He was 67 years old at the time of his death.