Ric Flair, the greatest professional wrestler of all-time, faces jail time if he doesn’t pay spousal support today.
Flair, the 16-time world heavyweight champion, portrayed a character as a straight-man’s version of Liberace. Lavish costumes, excess jewelry and full of sexual energy. As it turns out, his character wasn’t too far from his real life. According to multiple media reports, Flair owes ex-wife Jacqueline Beems $32,000 in back payments. He must pay up today or face the slammer.
“The reason I didn’t pay my ex-wife the 32 grand is because my son died and I was in the hospital for a month,” Flair told the Charlotte Observer. “I was in the hospital for a month with a blood clot. I didn’t go to work for three months.”
Flair, 64, was known as the best all-around ring performer and talker in the business. While Hulk Hogan was busy selling ice cream bars, appearing in Saturday morning cartoon shows and admittedly enjoying a healthy dose of performance-enhancement drugs, Flair was terrorizing the National Wrestling Alliance as the consummate in-ring performer.
If Hogan was the Tom Cruise of pro wrestling, Flair was the Robert DeNiro. Flair could make any wrestling match look real. He could fall on a dime, flip over the turnbuckle as though he were doing ballet, and could “sell” a move (make it look like he was really getting hit) as good as anyone. He dug his “reverse knife-edge” chops into wrestlers’ chests, often leaving the anatomies of Lex Luger, Sting and Dusty Rhodes blood red.
Flair’s best matches were against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. The two made wrestling look like fine art. No two wrestlers have ever had better chemistry inside the ring.
His greatest strength, however, was his microphone skills. At a time when the nation was fixed on Hogan and the old WWF, Flair was filling cities in North East at Mid-Atlantic area, largely because of his impressive promos on the mic. “Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair, Wooooooo!”
He oozed passion, athleticism and authenticity in his interviews, all while either making you laugh at him or want to kill him.
Flair put the business above his family and in the process was married multiple times. His son Reid Flair died of a drug overdose earlier this year.
Like his character, Flair always seems to overcome adversity outside of the ring. Like a lot of aged stars, Flair has attempted to hold on to the spotlight for too long and occasionally finds himself in the news for the wrong reasons.
Still, Flair is widely respected among wrestlers not named Scott Steiner and whenever he appears on television, even if he looks like Willy Wonka yelling at Grandpa Joe, the crowd is likely to roar out of respect for the greatest of all time. If he were to end up in jail, which is unlikely, he would have a long line of legitimate tough guys looking to shake his hand and get autograph.