D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Von Erich Family Wrestlers

Our 1988 article tells only a portion of the tragedies they'd come to suffer.

The Von Erichs in 1988. Sons Kerry (top left) and Chris (top center) later committed suicide. Fritz (bottom right) died of cancer in 1997.
The Von Erichs in 1988. Sons Kerry (top left) and Chris (top center) later committed suicide. Fritz (bottom right) died of cancer in 1997.

Maybe the saddest fact about rereading Skip Hollandsworth’s February 1988 cover story about the series of tragedies that had befallen the Von Erichs is knowing now that the family’s heartbreak was far from over. At the time that Hollandsworth spent time with the famed professional wrestling clan they were still reeling from the deaths of sons David (from an intestinal disease in 1984) and Mike (suicide in 1987.) Kerry Von Erich was looking to stage a comeback after a motorcycle accident had kept him out of the ring for 16 months. Family patriarch Fritz Von Erich (aka Jack Adkisson) confessed that he was planning to get out of the business all together.

After the article, one of the 40 greatest ever in D Magazine, was published, the youngest son Chris (who suffered asthma and couldn’t keep up with his more athletic brothers) shot himself in 1991. Two years later Kerry also killed himself with a gun. Fritz and wife Doris divorced in 1992, and Fritz died in 1997, at age 68, from brain and lung cancer.

Kevin Von Erich moved his family to Hawaii in 2006. His sons Marshall and Ross are carrying on the family legacy, as a third generation of wrestlers. If you’re interested in seeing them in action, they’re slated to perform at Coastal Mania VI on July 12 in Galveston. Kevin may also be on hand.

UPDATE: You can see them on June 15 at an event in Arlington too. Details this way.

I’m getting bummed out thinking about this story again. Let’s watch Fritz Von Erich (in his days playing a German villain) fight Bobo Brazil instead:

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