“Superstar” Billy Graham passed away today at the age of 79. Graham has been hospitalized for a very long time and was on life support following a string of health issues.
The announcement was made by Ric Flair on Twitter who wrote, “The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career!”
Doctors wanted to remove him from life support earlier this week but his wife Valerie refused to give them permission to do so.
Graham’s health problems are well documented, receiving a liver transplant in 2002 and then requiring another liver transplant eight years later. He was later diagnosed with third-stage liver disease and cirrhosis and had several trips to the hospital for other issues, including heart failure, liver complications, internal bleeding, and ear and skull infection.
Graham made his pro wrestling debut in 1970 and joined Verne Gagne’s AWA two years later, the place where he got his “Superstar” nick name. Five years later, the quickly-rising Graham joined the WWWF but he didn’t last long as he went to Japan and later to the NWA before returning to the WWWF in 1977 for a year. Graham eventually returned to the NWA and then had another stint with the WWF in 1982 for another year. After more disagreements with McMahon, Graham departed the company and went to work for both the AWA and the NWA up until 1986. His next return to WWF came in 1986 but injuries cut his in-ring career short and he went on to be a manager and a color commentator as well.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 after several years of fighting with the company. He is a former WWWF Heavyweight champion, ending Bruno Sammartino’s 1,237-day reign as a champion in April 1977. He lost the title to Bob Backlund after 648 days on February 20, 1978.