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Growing up with Flair
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ESPN’s popular “30 for 30” series took its first step inside the squared circle Tuesday night with a feature on legendary professional wrestler Ric Flair. If you missed the 90-minute special, it’s sure to have several repeat airings.
The show caught my attention because I grew up watching Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS with host Gordon Solie, the only man to repeatedly use the term “solar plexus.” Flair, with his bombastic antics, was one of the stars.
It turns out, the jet-flying, limousine-riding lifestyle Flair always hollered about on camera wasn’t just an act. Richard Fliehr became his pro wrestling persona.
Friend and fellow wrestler Shawn Michaels told “30 for 30” that, “Ric doesn’t love Richard Fliehr. I don’t know that he’s ever taken the time to get to know him, or to find out who in the world he is. He only knows who he is through the image and gimmick of Ric Flair.”
ESPN addresses Flair’s out-of-ring troubles with the force of a knife-edge chop. He’s endured financial hardship, four marriages, and daily drinking for decades.
Flair reveals he would drink at least 10 beers and probably five mixed drinks every day. He said he did this seven days a week, 365 days a year for some 20 years.
Not much on marriage fidelity, the “Nature Boy” admits he wasn’t faithful on the road. There were apparently many women lining up to ride “Space Mountain.”
“Let me tell you something,” said Flair. “If you’re wrestling and you’re in Hutchinson, Kansas, and you’re gonna spend the night there, I’m gonna find something to do. I’m not going through that night by myself.”
As you might expect, his wives didn’t cuddle up to this mindset and it didn’t make Flair much of a family man. Said his daughter Megan Fliehr, “Most of the time I would get things from my dad instead of time. He would bring me back like 16 to 20 Cabbage Patch Kids at a time. He would say, ‘I’m going to come to your basketball game next Friday,’ and he wouldn’t come. So as a kid, it’s disappointing.”
The special includes 46 interviews, among them Triple H, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, and Flair’s first wife. It poses the question of whether Flair will be remember as the greatest wrestler of all time.
Said Flair, “It’s easy to say you want to be thought of as the best father who ever lived, but I wasn’t. And I certainly wasn’t the best husband. So I guess I’ll just have to settle for wanting to be thought of as the greatest wrestler and the most entertaining wrestler that ever lived.”