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At the age of 71, wrestling legend Ric Flair has just signed another contract with WWE. But did you know he was once told he’d never fight again after a deadly plane crash broke his spine?
In 1975, Ric Flair was in a plane crash which killed the pilot and paralysed fellow wrestler Johnny Valentine. Flair, early on in his career at this point, was told he’d never be able to wrestle again after his spine was broken. But he defied all odds and went on to become one of the biggest names in wrestling.
In October 1975, three years after making his wrestling debut, Ric Flair was on a flight over North Carolina. He was 26-years-old at the time and his promising wrestling career had only just begun.
Recalling the accident, he told the Don't Tell Me The Score podcast at the time: “The pilot realised he’d hit the point of no return where he should have refuelled, and the engines stalled and we went down and through some trees.
“We tore an orchard apart and landed like an arrow.
“The speedometer was stuck on 230 miles an hour! I broke my back in three places.”
In 1981, six years after he was told he’d never wrestle again, he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Dusty Rhodes and became one of the founding members of The Four Horsemen.
Flair’s final match for WWE was against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24 in 2008. Since 2011, he’s remained in a non-wrestling role for WWE.
Over his 40-year career as a professional wrestler, Ric Flair was given various nicknames as well as winning several titles.
He’s most known for the nickname ‘Nature Boy’, which he adopted as a tribute to Buddy Rogers, who went by the nickname.
Some of his other nicknames over the years have been: I Da! Ba-Loot!, Jet Flyin, Kiss Stealin and Limousine Ridin’ - just to name a few. He was given many nicknames, but one most can agree on is ‘greatest wrestler of all time.’
Flair passed his gift onto his eldest daughter, Charlotte, who headlined WrestleMania and is now an 11-time champion.
Since retiring from the sport, Ric Flair has been a wrestling manager. It’s estimated that the wrestling icon is worth $500,000 (£367,000) in 2021, with a monthly salary of $35,000 (£25,700).
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