If you grew up during the 80’s and 90’s there is a strong chance that you watched professional wrestling at one time or another. If you were a fan of the WWF or the WCW, you probably recall watching guys like Rowdy Rowdy Piper, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, Iron Shiek, Randy Savage and (of course) Hulk Hogan battle it out on TV. Fans got to see human behemoths charging around the ring, slamming each other on the ground and diving off of the ropes for entertainment; what they did not see was just how damaging such acts were to the bodies of each wrestler. Several former wrestlers have developed or reported suffering an injury to the brain.
A chair to the head may have been great for ratings, but it was terrible for the brain cells of the wrestling stars. The repeat damage caused by severe or repeated blows to the head compounds over time. That immense wear and tear has crippled older wrestlers to the point that many of these “stars” have met with an untimely death. While most of us realize that professional wrestling is fake; few understand that these athletes are still performing stunts that result in serious injuries
The list is extensive and is getting longer. Matt Osborne, better known for his colorful character as Doink the Clown died on June 30, 2013 in a Plano, Texas hospital. Apparently, Osborne was unresponsive when his girlfriend came home and found him. Later he was pronounced dead. Authorities are reporting that the cause of death is unknown and an investigation is being conducted. Initially, finding the cause of death may seem like mere formality, as Osborne was known to have drug problems stemming back to the mid 90’s; Doink the Clown was ultimately fired by the WWE for apparent “repeated drug offenses”. Being fired for drug offenses from wrestling in the mid 90’s is like getting kicked out of a rock band for excessive drinking. Seriously. Over the years the stories have come out from various sources, during those years, drug abuse was very common amongst wrestlers. Unfortunately, very few people will be shocked if it is concluded that Osborne died as a result of drug abuse.
On the other hand, Osborne may be one of the many famous athletes/performers who succumb to the intense damage done to the brain over the course of a career in a physically violent industry. In this day and age, most people know and accept that professional wrestling is not “real”. But let me tell you that the running, jumping and falling like they do is absolutely real. The injuries are real; the wear and tear that is inflicted on wrestlers is a bi-product of the physical nature of the shows.
The older these guys get, the bigger toll those injuries play on the rest of their bodies. Anyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury may feel the effects long after the original symptoms—such as light-headedness, confusion, coordination issues, etc—have ceased. Just like the dozens of professional football players who have been permanently crippled by the compounding effect of multiple traumatic brain injuries, wrestlers have been showing signs of early-onset dementia and other permanent neurological disorders. Anyone who suffers a brain injury, whether it be from a career in professional sports or a run of the mill automobile accident, needs to seek immediate medical care. Treatment for the injuries should never be ignored.
When it comes to performers like Matt Osborne, the wrestling production companies are acting like many of the professional sports organizations have in the past. When are these multi-million dollar companies going to stand up for all the other Doinks that are out there? It reminds me of vets that come back from a war with illnesses like PTSD and other debilitating syndromes after all that they are asked to sacrifice. Once these aging wrestlers retire, they continue living a daily battle to survive. They may not be flying through the air entertaining stadiums full of people anymore, but they continue to suffer through the damage that occurred when they were. RIP Doink the Clown, you will be missed as one of the original gimmicks in wrestling.