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HomeTVWrestling Legend ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham Dies at 79

Wrestling Legend ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham Dies at 79

‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, a WWE Hall of Famer who is regarded as one of the most influential pro wrestlers of all time, has died. He was 79.

A cause of death wasn’t given, but it was reported earlier this week that Graham had been in the ICU on life support. On Monday (May 15) morning, Graham’s wife Valerie posted on Facebook that she had refused to take her husband off his life support.

“Graham died Wednesday after being taken off life support and spending most of his time in the hospital this year,” the Billy Graham Facebook page wrote on Wednesday. “He was initially hospitalized in January with an infection in his ears that spread to his ear bones and skull. Graham was battling numerous health issues that included acute kidney failure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and hearing loss.”

Born Eldridge Wayne Coleman on June 7, 1943, in Phoenix, Arizona, Graham began his career as a bodybuilder, training at Gold’s Gym in Santa Monica, where he worked out with Dave Draper, Franco Columbu, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His first taste of fame came in a photo shoot with Schwarzenegger featured in Joe Weider’s Muscle Fitness magazine.

Graham made his professional wrestling debut on January 16, 1970, after training under Stu Hart in Calgary. He adopted the name Billy Graham in reference to the evangelist of the same name and later added the ‘Superstar’ nickname in 1972. With his in-ring skills, bodybuilder physique, and huge personality, Graham soon became one of the most popular wrestlers in the industry.

He is a multi-time world champion across various promotions, including a 1977-78 title run in the WWWF, which eventually became the WWF and then WWE. In 2004, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Numerous wrestlers and fans paid tribute to Graham following the news of his passing, with Ric Flair tweeting, “The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left US. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE on My Career!”

“Before Billy Graham, performers in WWWF / WWF/ WWE were known as professional wrestlers. After Billy Graham left his mark, Vincent Kennedy McMahon decided everyone would be a WWE Superstar,” wrote WWE on-screen manager Paul Heyman. “A most heartfelt RIP to the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour!”

Check out more tributes below.

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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