Ex-wrestler Mike Graham dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound in Daytona visit for Biketoberfest
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Mike Graham, shown in this vintage black-and-white photo from his start in professional wrestling in the early 1970s, followed in his late father's tragic footsteps by killing himself with a firearm while visiting Daytona for the fall biker rally.
DAYTONA BEACH -- Former professional wrestler Mike Graham who was in Daytona Beach for Biketoberfest was found dead Friday by his wife, reportedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 61.
While police have released few details on the Tampa native's death, multiple wrestling web sites are reporting the death was the result of suicide by shooting himself in the head. Graham's father, the legendary wrestler and National Wrestling Alliance promoter in Florida, also shot himself to death in 1985, after battling alcoholism most of his life.
Though the younger Graham never wrestled for World Wrestling Entertainment, he had ties to the premier wrestling organization, including production of a 2006 video on retired wrestler known in the squared-circle as the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
WWE star Dustin Rhodes, the son of the now-retired wrestler, paid homage to Mike Graham on his Twitter account, writing, "R.I.P. to my mentor in the business mike graham. May god be with his family. He will be missed. Love u mike.”
The WWE issued a statement late Friday on Graham's tragic demise: "WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Graham, 61, son of legendary promoter Eddie Graham. While never under contract with WWE, he was part of our extended family. The sports-entertainment world lost a beloved member today. WWE extends its sincerest condolences to his family and friends."
Graham, honored as Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year in 1972, wrestled for several wrestling organizations into the early 1990s, including the former American Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling, now defunct organizations known better by their respective acronyms, AWA and WCW.
Graham competed After retiring from in-ring competition, Graham continued his association with WVCW as an agent and trainer through 2000. He accepted his father's posthumous induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Graham, whose real name was Michael Gossett, utilized the "figure four" leglock submission move, by tying up an opponent's legs with his own, often while teaming up in the ring with his more famous father.
Graham's signature move was later adopted by another famous wrestler now semi-retired, the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
A decade ago, Graham hosted a show for a year with wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, killed in a car wreck last year after suffering a heart attack.
Editor's Note: Henry Frederick authored two online wrestling columns in the early 2000s, "Ringside Chat" and "Wrestling Rewind" with featured interviews with pro wrestlers Chris Jericho, Goldberg, Dan "the Beast" Severn, Hugh Morrus, George "the Animal" Steele, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Tony Garea, "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page and others.
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper in Lake Mary serving Central Florida via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Frederick was the top winner in the 2012 Florida Press Club contest: 1st place for Blog Writing & 3rd place each for General News Writing, Public Safety Reporting & Best Online Presence (with social media). He's received 18 major journalism awards as a breaking news, investigative reporter & city editor for daily newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts, New York & Connecticut since the mid-1980s.
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