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The Von Erich family is a professional wrestling family. Their actual birth names are "Adkisson", but every member of the family who went into the wrestling business used the ring name "Von Erich", after the family patriarch, Jack (Fritz Von Erich) Adkisson.
Although the family patriarch Fritz lived to the age of 68, five of his six sons preceded him in death (three by suicide). The firstborn son, Jack Jr., died at the age of six. In 1984, David Von Erich died in Japan from acute enteritis of the upper intestine. Michael, Chris, and Kerry all committed suicide in 1987, 1991, and 1993 respectively. Mike died after taking an overdose of Placidyl. Chris shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun at his parents' home in East Texas. Kerry shot himself in the chest behind his father's house on Shady Shores Road. Kevin Von Erich is the sole surviving child of Fritz (Jack Adkisson) and Doris Adkisson.
The third generation of Von Erichs is currently forming. Kerry's daughter Lacey and Kevin's sons Marshall and Ross are now in the business.
Fritz Von Erich was born Jack Barton Adkisson on August 16, 1929 in Jewett, Texas. Standing 6'4" tall and weighing 260 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 Title, 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 married Doris on June 23, 1950. Together, they had six sons before divorcing on July 21, 1992.
Fritz Von Erich's first son was born Jack Barton Adkisson, Jr. on September 21, 1952. He died after accidentally being electrocuted and drowning in a puddle at the age of six in Niagara Falls, New York. The family were living in the Sunny Acres Mobile Home Park on Pine Avenue.
Born Kevin Ross Adkisson on 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 trademark maneuvers like the body scissors and the iron claw, as well as for wrestling barefoot. Kevin retired from wrestling in 1993 to spend more time with his wife and children and run the family investment business. Though he remained in Denton County, Texas for several years after his retirement, Kevin and his family have since moved to Kauai County, Hawaii. He occasionally makes appearances in wrestling shows, but no longer performs.
Kevin has been married since August 1, 1980 to Pamela J. May (known as Pam). Together they have four children, including two daughters: Kristen Rain (born February 3, 1981) and Jillian Lindsey (born February 10, 1985) as well as two sons: David Michael (born June 1, 1988) and Kevin Marshall (born November 10, 1992). Kevin is also a grandfather to Adeline Claire (born September 22, 2004).
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 that were filmed in Dallas, one before the sale and one after. In his first appearance, at WWE Homecoming, he and several other legendary wrestlers attacked Rob Conway, with Kevin even applying his family's signature hold, 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 the show History of WCCW along with Michael Hayes on WWE Classics On Demand.
At WrestleMania XXV, Kevin Von Erich represented the Von Erich family during their induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
David had many memorable feuds, mostly in the 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 was married on June 26, 1978 to Candy L. McLeod. Together, they had a daughter Natosha Zoeanna (born October 19, 1978) Tragically, the baby died in infancy and David's marriage soon ended in divorce on July 12, 1979. He married again on June 8, 1982 to Patricia A. Matter (known as Tricia) They remained together until David's untimely death.
David died on February 10, 1984 in Tokyo, Japan. Although many insist that before he died David had been booked to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair, there has never been anything concrete to substantiate this rumour, nor have any NWA board members confirmed the story.
The official doctor's report allegedly states that he died of acute enteritis, but Ric Flair stated in his autobiography To Be the Man that "everyone in wrestling believes" that 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. A death certificate or doctor's report has never been provided by the Von Erich family.
Kerry Von Erich is the fourth son of Fritz Von Erich. He was born Kerry Gene Adkisson 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.
Kerry was married on June 18, 1983 to Catherine M. Murray (known as Cathy). Together they have two daughters: Hollie Brooke (born September 19, 1984) and Lacey Dawn (born July 17, 1986). The couple later separated, before divorcing on April 22, 1992. Lacey is a professional wrestler, who has previously been working for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
On June 4, 1986, Kerry was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He suffered a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors were unable save his right foot, eventually amputating it. According to his 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 fellow wrestlers, even going to the extreme of showering with his boots on.
Due to the amputation, Kerry became addicted to pain killers, followed by several 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 on February 18, 1993 on his father's ranch in Denton County, Texas. Bret Hart states in his biography ("My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling") that Kerry had told him months before about his plans, that he had wanted to follow his late brothers, that they were calling him. His marriage had fallen apart as well and he thought his death was inevitable.
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 full-time. His only previous involvement on-screen was being involved in an angle where Ric Flair insulted him and wrestled him as a run-up, to what was planned, as David winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but Fritz forced him into the ring after David's death.
Mike was married on February 14, 1985 to Shani Danette Garza. Shortly after his wedding, Mike suffered a shoulder injury on a tour of Israel and was forced to have surgery. After the surgery it was discovered that he was suffering 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 from wrestling after not being able to return to the ring at full strength. He committed suicide on April 12, 1987 in Denton County, Texas by overdosing on a tranquilizer.
Born Chris Barton Adkisson on 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 brother, Mike. He committed suicide on September 12, 1991 by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ross Von Erich is the stage name of David Michael Ross Adkisson (born June 1, 1988). 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. He was trained by his father, legend Harley Race and the Pro Wrestling Noah Dojo. He and his brother Marshall 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. In a 2010 interview, Ross stated that he and his brother Marshall are also training to become professional wrestlers. Ross and Brother Marshall were trained by Harley Race. They debuted as a tag team for Pro Wrestling Noah on July 22, 2012.
Marshall Von Erich is the stage name of Kevin Marshall Adkisson (born on November 11, 1992). 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. He was trained by his father, Harly Race and the Noah Dojo. He debuted in 2012, with his brother Ross in Pro Wrestling Noah.
Lacey Von Erich (born July 17, 1986 in Dallas, Texas) is the stage name of Lacey Dawn Adkisson. She is the daughter of Kerry Von Erich and the granddaughter of Fritz Von Erich. She was previously with World Wrestling Entertainment and TNA as the newest member of The Beautiful People. She is a former TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion.
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 died in July 2009.
Lance Von Erich was the stage name of Dallas-born professional wrestler William Kevin "Ricky" 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 has no biological relation to the Adkisson family either.
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, are 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. Following Kerry's death, the television show A Current Affair interviewed Kevin, the last surviving member of the Von Erich clan. He stated that, 'A few years ago, I still had a couple of brothers. Now, I'm not even a brother.' And upon rumors of his father who 'ruled the ring with an iron claw also ruled the house with an iron fist,' David responded, 'I wouldn't blame him.'
The blood relatives of the Von Erich family have combined for 144 professional wrestling championships through the years. The following list combines all of the family members' titles.
† = deceased
|Fritz Von Erich†|
|Jack Adkisson, Jr.†|
|Kevin Von Erich|
|David Von Erich†|
|Kerry Von Erich†|
|Mike Von Erich†|
|Chris Von Erich†|
|Ross Von Erich|
|Marshall Von Erich|
|Lacey Von Erich|