The Von Erich Family - Success Turns into Tragedy

The Von Erich family is the first family to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. At one time, the family was the most popular act in wrestling but sadly tragedy befell the family. Only one of six brothers lived to see his 34th birthday.

Fritz Von Erich

Kevin Von Erich is the last remaining Von Erich brother alive.
Kevin Von Erich speaks at the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jack Barton Adkisson was the patriarch of this wrestling family.  He was trained by Stu Hart and gained fame when he took on the persona of Nazi sympathizer Fritz Von Erich.  He formed a successful tag team with his "brother" Waldo Von Erich.  As a wrestler, his greatest achievement was winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. He went on to buy the Dallas based territory Big Time Wrestling.  In 1982, he changed the name of the company to World Class Championship Wrestling and due to the popularity of his sons and some changes to the way the company presented wrestling, the company flourished.  Sadly, things went really bad for the family and Fritz outlived five of his six children.  In 1997, he died at the age of 68 due to cancer.

Jack Adkisson, Jr.

Jack was the first son for Fritz and Doris. Tragically, in 1959 he passed away at the age of seven when he was electrocuted and drowned in a puddle.

Kevin Von Erich

Kevin was the oldest of the Von Erich brothers to enter the ring. Like the rest of his family, he used the famed Von Erich Iron Claw to immobilize his opponents.  Unlike the rest of his family, he wrestled barefoot and was more of a high-flyer than his other brothers. He spent the vast majority of his career working in World Class Championship Wrestling where his most famous feuds were with the Fabulous Freebirds and Chris Adams. Kevin has outlived all of his brothers and is a grandfather.

David Von Erich

"The Yellow Rose of Texas" was generally regarded as the Von Erich brother with the biggest potential for success in the business.  In addition to holding titles in his father's promotion, he also held titles in Japan, Florida, and Missouri.  During tour of Japan in 1984, David passed away at the age of 25.  The official cause of death was gastroenteritis.  A few months later, a memorial card held was held in his honor.  The David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions became an annual event held at Texas Stadium. 

Kerry Von Erich

Kerry Von Erich was arguably the most popular of the brothers. In 1984, he won the NWA World Championship from Ric Flair at the first annual David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions.  In 1986, Kerry was involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in his foot being amputated.  Kerry Von Erich entered WWE with the nickname of the Texas Tornado in 1990 and quickly went on to win the Intercontinental Championship from Curt Henning.  In 1993, Kerry died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  At the time of his death, Kerry was in legal problems due to his drug abuse problems and was facing potentially serving some jail time.

Mike Von Erich

In 1984, Mike was voted the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year.  The following year, he suffered a shoulder injury.  He had complications with the surgery and had to battle toxic shock syndrome. He almost died from this when his temperature reached 107 degrees. He returned to the ring the following year but according to friends and family, he was never the same after surviving that incident.  In 1987, at the age of 23, he committed suicide by overdosing on Placidyl, which is a tranquilizer.  The Parade of Champions event was renamed the David and Michael Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions.  The final Parade of Champions was held in 1988.

Chris Von Erich

Chris suffered from asthma and had to take medicines that made it impossible for him to be as big and strong as his brothers.  It also caused his bones to become brittle.  By the time he got into the wrestling business, the family's company was out of business.  Feeling frustrated about his lack of success in the business as well as the loss of his brothers, he committed suicide at the age of 21 with a self-inflicted gunshot.

Lacey Von Erich

Lacey Von Erich is the daughter of Kerry Von Erich.  When she joined Total Nonstop Action in 2009, she became the first third-generation Von Erich to wrestle for a major national wrestling organization.

Marshall and Ross Von Erich

Marshall and Ross are the sons of Kevin Von Erich.  At Slammiversary 2014, they made their televised wrestling debut.

Waldo Von Erich

Walter Sieber, born in 1933, was a Canadian wrestler that teamed up with his "brother" Fritz.  He was not a member of the Adkisson family. He retired in the 1970s and passed away in 2009 at the age of 75.

Lance Von Erich

Lance was brought into World Class Championship Wrestling in 1985 when the family was down to only two wrestling Von Erich's due to the illness of Mike and the death of David.  He was billed as the son of Waldo Von Erich and a cousin to Kerry and Kevin.  However, he was not the son of Waldo and was not related to the Adkisson family.  In 1987, when he went to work for the rival Wild West Wrestling, Fritz broke kayfabe and told fans that Lance was not a real Von Erich.

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