Ric Flair confirms death of WWE legend
Ric Flair has confirmed the death of WWE legend Billy Graham.
The Hall of Famer - whose real name was Eldridge Wayne Coleman - passed away this week aged 79 after being in hospital for weeks with various health issues.
Ric - who was one of Billy's protégés - wrote on Twitter: "The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career! (sic)"
Billy's family told TMZ he passed away on Wednesday (17.05.23) after he was taken off life support, and his wife Valerie and daughter were by his side when he died.
Valerie revealed earlier in the week that Billy was on life support, but admitted she had refused a request from doctors to remove him from life support.
She told the publication at the time: "Please urgent prayers needed for my husband. The doctors wanted to remove him from life support tonight. I refused.
"He’s a fighter and his will is strong even if his body isn’t. God is our hope."
In January, a "recovery fund" was set up for Billy on website GoFundMe, and $21,864 has been raised at the time of writing.
A message on the page reads: "Friends, Wayne (Billy) has had a very rough run lately. He coded, but God decided that it was not his time to go, and brought him back to us!
"He is going on over three weeks in the Mayo hospital ICU, checked into a rehab center, and is now back at the Mayo. He is dealing with a myriad of very serious health issues: a major infection in his ears and skull that may take six months of intravenous IVs, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hearing loss as a result of the infection, and the list goes on.
"He is facing a long period of rehab, and his insurance will only pay a portion of this. He is facing at least two months in a skilled nursing facility, once he is stabilized and released from the Mayo hospital. Wayne has lost 45 pounds in the last three weeks.
"Wayne's wife Valerie is doing the best she can to work full time, while also doing all she can for her husband. They are facing mounting long term medical related bills. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. (sic)"
The star was called Wayne by his family, but known to most as his ring name "Superstar" Billy Graham.
He became the WWWF Heavyweight Champion in the 1977-1978 campaign, and was known for mentoring wrestlers such as Ric, Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner and Jess Ventura.
In 2004, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Prior to his wrestling career, Billy was an award-winning bodybuilder and training partner and pal of now-Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.