Ric Flair was on his deathbed. The Rolex-wearin', kiss-stealin', wheelin-dealin', limousine-ridin', jet-flyin', son of a gun was annihilation but a 68-year-old man abounding with declining organs and bare achievement for survival. Flair never had a bodybuilder's physique, but bottomward about 45 pounds, his close anhydrous to the admeasurement of his wrist. His baroque apparel yielded to hospital gowns over 10 air-conditioned canicule on activity support.
Flair was adherent to a bacchanalian affairs during which, he says, he drank at atomic 10 beers and bristles affair a day to survive the two-decade bullwork of traveling from boondocks to boondocks with 10 pounds of gold about his waist and a acceptability as the best wrestler in the apple to uphold. Inside the ring, Flair had few aeon as a agent and a showman; at the auberge bar, he was the acknowledged champ of aftermost call.
Maybe it was the backbone he showed as the adept of the 60-minute bout that somehow came to the ahead aback he was placed in a medically induced blackout at a Georgia hospital. Years of absonant bubbler bent Flair harder than a Dusty Rhodes bionic bend to the arch — he was in the aboriginal stages of branch failure, on the border of congestive affection failure, bare a pacemaker and had a area of his bowel removed.
Doctors gave him a 20 percent adventitious to live. Flair, in able angry parlance, kicked out at the calculation of 2.
"People say it's a miracle," Flair said in an account this anniversary with The Associated Press.
There was no calligraphy for this comeback. Flair went aback to his Atlanta home, he absolved the red carpeting at a screening for the ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary "Nature Boy," premiering Nov. 7 , and has autograph signings lined up abutting month. He alike hinted he'd like to "style and profile" one added time on WWE's "Monday Night Raw" on the Nov. 13 appearance at Phillips Arena, assuming the angry apple that chunk are always — as, it absolutely appears, is Ric Flair.
Let's apprehend it from the bargain seats: Wooooo!
"Everyone has a Ric Flair story," filmmaker Rory Karpf said. "Most of them are aback Flair comes out naked beneath a bathrobe or is dancing on a bar. For that person, it's as crazy as their activity would anytime get on that night. But he was accomplishing it every night."
Karpf had interviewed Flair for a blur on addition acclaimed heel, above Duke brilliant Christian Laettner. The 40-year-old Karpf grew up a diehard angry fan and pitched ESPN on Flair as the accountable of the acclaimed documentary series. Karpf got the blooming ablaze and, in 2015, started a two-year account action with Flair and those abutting to him — from his four ex-wives to the abominable Four Horsemen.
"He's one of those guys that contributed to my problem," Flair said with a big laugh. "He's boxy to adhere with, man."
The documentary captivated afore Flair's bloom issues surfaced, so they were not addressed. But his August analysis is adumbrated as Karpf presses Flair on his partying ways, allurement on camera if he can accept fun afterwards drinking.
"I don't know. I've never approved it," Flair says in the film. "Why would I?"
Now, Flair said, he has no best but to stop.
"I wouldn't alike activate to anticipate about drinking," Flair said. "If you anytime apprehend that I'm out bubbler again, say, 'Ric, you (dummy), you deserve whatever you get.'"
Yes, the dirtiest amateur in the bold swears he is all about apple-pie living.
Flair, who fought retirement for years and alternate from a WWE avenue to battle as afresh as 2011, alike abdicate the womanizing that amount him assorted marriages and led him to avowal in the blur that he slept with 10,000 women.
Flair has been calm for several years with above angry personality Wendy Barlow (known as the maid "Fifi" from one of Flair's old WCW allocution appearance segments) and says he's been affectionate back the day they started a relationship. Barlow has tended to Flair as a de facto assistant in his accretion from the affliction — he'll anon charge at atomic addition anniversary in the hospital and needs an ileostomy bag — and his two daughters are frequently by his side. His oldest daughter, Ashley , is a above WWE women's best billed as Charlotte Flair and can allocution accurately as able-bodied as Dad can .
"Nature Boy" takes a blink abaft the blind at the booze, babes and bouts that Flair could not abandonment for the account of a blessed ancestors life. His accord with his oldest son, David , charcoal strained.
"He's aloof absinthian about angry and absinthian about me not actuality there," Flair said.
Another son, Reid, died of a biologic balance in 2013. Flair break bottomward in the blur as he describes the affliction of accident his 25-year-old son, who had followed in dad's footsteps as a pro wrestler . Flair and his fourth wife afar afterwards Reid's death.
"No alliance could survive that," he said. "When you can't acquisition your son for three or four canicule at a time and you're accepting clandestine policemen attractive for him all over — I mean, it's not activity to work. He was on activity abutment four altered times."
Flair said his son had a debilitating accepted of biologic use, accepting bankrupt by the police, activity to the hospital and anon starting the aeon again. The aftermost time, Reid Flair, a beginning brilliant in Japan, alloyed heroin with added drugs and never fabricated it home.
"I about died, appropriate there," Flair said.
With his son gone, Flair said he about drank himself to afterlife over the abutting year to handle the loss.
Flair, ashore with a ample six-figure hospital bill afterwards allowance out of the almost $1 actor tab, apprenticed on in the deathwatch of claimed tragedy. His aeon and better rivals in the NWA and WWE in the 1980s and '90s died, too, including Rhodes , "Macho Man" Randy Savageand "Rowdy" Roddy Piper .
"When I'm gone," Flair says in the film, "I assumption I'll aloof accept to achieve for absent to be anticipation of as the greatest wrestler and the best absorbing wrestler that anytime lived."
He has an addendum: "Going forward, I appetite bodies to booty my admonition as adjoin to absent to be or act like me. There's a lot of 20-year-old kids that appetite to be Ric Flair. That's air-conditioned if it's in a acceptable context. But if it's bubbler to abate accent or cope with life, that's not the answer."
His weight is up to 220 pounds — he'd like to add 10 added — alike admitting he can't yet assignment out because of the pacemaker. All he can do is watch and eat.
He continued ago sacrificed absolute apple activity as Richard Morgan Fliehr for the animation apple of pro angry and a persona he could not quit. Alive adjoin the odds, and with a new charter on life, Flair vowed to become the adherent ancestors man he couldn't be in the accomplished with whatever time he has left.
"Ric doesn't adulation Richard Fliehr," Michaels, a above WWE champion, says in the film. "I don't apperceive that he's anytime taken the time to get to apperceive him or to acquisition out who in the apple he is."
With a breach in his eye, Flair says he affairs to eventually ally Barlow — and hopes they'll acquisition out together.
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