Presented by BetterHelp.
Wrestlers and other athletes train hard to keep their bodies in great shape. So when news breaks out that one of them has developed a disease, it can be quite shocking.
One disease that affects anyone, regardless of their status and occupation, is Alzheimer’s. It is a heartbreaking disease that slowly deteriorates all aspects of cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, many wrestlers have developed and even passed away from this disease over the past few decades. Read on to learn more about Alzheimer’s as well as which wrestlers have been affected by it.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that progressively worsens memory and cognitive functioning as time goes on. It begins with mild memory loss but can become severe enough that the person cannot care for themselves. It affects all aspects of brain functioning, including thought, memory, and language. Therefore, people with Alzheimer’s slowly lose the ability to converse, remember anything, or keep their thoughts straight. Severe cases forget who their loved ones are as well as themselves.
Alzheimer’s affects millions of people around the globe and yet cannot be cured. Researchers aren’t sure of the exact cause but have identified many risk factors. Some of them include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Head injuries
Considering head injuries are a risk factor, it should not be surprising that a few wrestlers have developed Alzheimer’s over the years. The best way to prevent Alzheimer’s is to keep your brain healthy without any traumas or injuries. This can be difficult for anyone competing in pro wrestling, as injuries are part of the job.
If you want to learn more about Alzheimer’s, you can find more information and resources at the link below:
Now, let’s move on to learn more about those athletes who developed this unfortunate disease.
Famous Wrestlers With Alzheimer’s
It’s always saddening to hear that someone we know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But it can be even more shocking when someone at the peak of physical health develops it. That’s why whenever a wrestler gets this diagnosis, it sends shockwaves throughout the whole industry. Below are a few wrestlers who tragically developed Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2018, Jim Niedhart, also known as “The Anvil,” passed away at the age of 63. He was living with a few different conditions at the time of his death, including early-onset Alzheimer’s. It was later revealed that he passed away due to a tragic fall that was caused by a seizure.
Neidhart had a long career that started in the late 1970s. He trained with Stu Hart and performed for the WCW, WWF, and WWE. His untimely death was quite a shock to the industry.
Verne Gagne was a well-known wrestler and promoter who kickstarted the careers of many famous wrestlers, including Ric Flair. He had the advantage of training in the Marines and later formed the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1960. He left such a significant mark on wrestling that he was inducted into multiple halls of fame, including the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (2004) and the WWE Hall of Fame (2006).
Gagne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his late age and passed away from it at the age of 89 in 2015.
In 2019, Vampiro revealed to his fans through social media that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He also revealed later that he was battling Parkinson’s as well, a similar neurologic disorder that affects motion. Though both these diseases typically develop later in life, Vampiro was only 51 when he received his diagnosis.
Vampiro debuted in 1984 and made a name for himself by competing in the WCW, where he won the World Tag Team Championship with The Great Muta. He is currently semi-retired, as he is working on his mental health and hoping to combat these diseases.
Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that no one is immune to. Even healthy athletes with fame and money cannot prevent or cure this disease. Unfortunately, due to the injuries and head trauma sustained, wrestlers may be more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia in general than the general public. Hopefully, this disease will be curable in the near future, so we don’t have to lose any more wrestlers or loved ones to it.