Ric Flair is the
greatest showman in the sport of Professional Wrestling today,and maybe of all time. From the devastating plane crash in which he suffered a broken
back, Flair has climbed the highest rungs of the sport, winning titles in every organization in which he has wrestled. In doing so, he has changed the
course of the sport in many ways.Sportznews takes a look at this wrestling legend.
Real name: Richard Morgan Fliehr
Weight: 243 lbs.
Date of birth: February 25, 1949
From: Edina, MN
Resides: Charlotte, NC
Pro debut: December 10, 1972
Trained by: Verne Gagne
Finishing move: Figure Four Leg Lock
Ric Flair, born Richard Morgan Fliehr, was born on February 25, 1949, in the small hamlet of Edina, Minnesota. The son of an obstetrician/gynecologist
and a marketing executive, Ric proved himself an able sportsman, no doubt a foreshadowing of greater things to lie ahead. A basketball player in high
school, he also won the Wisconsin state high school championship in amateur wrestling. By the time he started college, he was also recognized as quite
the accomplished football player, being selected as a two time All Statelineman and going on as an offensive guard and defensive tackle at the
University of Minnesota. Soon after completing his time at the University of Minnesota, Ric started his wrestling training under the watchful tutelage
of Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson. Promptly joining the American Wrestling Association, his first opponent was the inimitable "Scrap Iron" Gadaski,
whom he met on December 10, 1972. The match ending in a draw, Ric realized that his full potential would have to be realized at a different time in a
Flair's first title in the NWA was the U.S. Heavyweight Title. He won it
from Bobo Brazil in September of 1977. He lost the U.S. Title later that that year, but then teamed up with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to win the NWA
World Tag Team Titles. They beat Ole and Gene Anderson in November of 1977 for the titles. They were stripped of the titles early in 1978. In May of
that same year, Flair defeated Mr. Wrestling to capture the U.S. Title for a second time. On December 18, 1978 Ricky Steamboat won the U.S. Title from
Flair in Toronto, but Flair won it back from Steamboat on April 1, 1979. Then on August 12, 1979 in Greensboro, NC, Flair recaptured the World Tag
Team Titles with Blackjack Mulligan. After they won the titles from Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke, Flair vacated the U.S. Title so he could
concentrate on the tag team scene. The very next month, Jones and Von Raschke won the tag titles back from Flair and Mulligan. This would be the last
time "The Nature Boy" held a tag team title.
Now, with Flair concentrating mainly on singles competition, he won the U.S.
Heavyweight Title for the fourth time. He defeated Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka on April 19, 1980 in Greensboro, NC to begin this title reign. On July 26,
in Charlotte, NC, Flair lost the title to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, but regained it from his former partner on November 24 in Greeneville, SC. On
January 27, in Raleigh, NC, Rowdy Roddy Piper put an end to Ric's fifth U.S. Title reign.On September 17, 1981 history was made. Ric Flair defeated
Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City, Missouri to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. This was just the beginning of the now famous Flair/Rhodes feud.
Dusty was suspended from the NWA in late1982 or early 1983. Then a masked man, known as the Midnight Rider, came onto the scene (who everyone knew was
Rhodes). The Midnight Rider won the title from Flair on February 9, 1983. When the President of the NWA told the Midnight Rider to remove the mask,
the title was returned to Ric Flair. Then, on June 8, 1982, Harley Race defeated Flair for the World Title in St. Louis, Missouri.
On November 24, 1983, the NWA held the first ever Starrcade in Greensboro, North
Carolina. It was here, where Flair won the NWA Title for the second time from Harley Race. During an International tour, on March 21, 1984, Race
regained the title in New Zealand. But, just two nights later, Flair won the World Title for a third time by defeating Race in Singapore. At a show in
Irving, Texas, Flair lost the Championship to Kerry Von Erich on May 6, 1984. Just a few weeks later, on May 24, Flair regained the title during their
tour of Japan. This time, Flair kept the World Title for over two years. Then, on July 25, 1986, Flair's long time nemesis, Dusty Rhodes, defeated Ric
in Greensboro, North Carolina. After holding the title for only 13 days, Rhodes lost the title to Flair on August 7 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Nature
Boy's fifth title reign lasted a little over a year. Then on September 25, 1987, Ron Garvin won the title in Detroit, Michigan. It took Flair only two
months to regain the title from Garvin. He started his sixth title reign in Chicago, Illinois on November 26, 1987.After holding the World Title for a
little more than a year, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat ended Flair's sixth title reign on February 20, 1989 in the same city where he started it,
Chicago, IL. On May 7, at Wrestle War '89, Flair won the title back from Steamboat in Nashville, Tennessee. After this match, Terry Funk attacked The
Nature Boy. Flair was out of action for about 6 months, after Funk piledrove him through a time keeper's table. Flair returned to battle Funk and the
rest of Gary Hart's stable. Not able to take them on alone, Flair recruited Sting, Ole and Arn Anderson to reform the 4-Horsemen. The Horsemen battled
Hart's men on many occasions, almost always coming out on top. After they had taken care of Hart's stable, the NWA Championship Commitee awarded Sting
a shot at the World Title. The Horsemen confronted Sting, and told him to refuse the title shot or leavethe Horsemen. When he refused, and demanded
the match, the Horsemen warned him to watch his back. Soon there after, Sting was sneak attacked in the locker rooms and had a seriously damaged knee.
When Sting returned to the ring, at the 1990 Great American Bash (July 7), he won the World Heavyweight Championship in Baltimore, Maryland.
On January 11, 1991, Ric Flair defeated Sting to win the World Title for the eighth
time. This wrestling organization the left the NWA and formed World Championship Wrestling. Flair was then recognized as the first WCW Heavyweight
Champion of the World, taking place of his NWA World Title. While touring Japan, Flair lost to Tatsumi Fujinami on March 21 in controversial fashion.
The decision was later reversed and the WCW Title returned to Flair, but World Championship Wrestling recognized Fujinami as the NWA champion. On May
19, 1991, Flair won the NWA Title for the ninth time by defeating Fujinami in St. Petersburg, Florida. After a conflict with Virgil Runnels (who we
know as Dusty Rhodes), the top booker for WCW at that time, Flair signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation in mid-1991. After doing this,
he was stripped of both the WCW and the NWA World Titles. This was the first time the NWA Title had ever been vacant.Flair entered the WWF, taking his
World belt with him (he owned it at the time), proclaiming himself to be the real World Heavyweight Champion. He took on Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as
his executive consultant and Mr. Perfect as his trainer. Eventually, Flair sold his belt back to WCW. After a couple of controversial WWF Title
changes between the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan, the President of the WWF declared the title vacant and announced that the winner of the 1992 Royal
Rumble would be the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion.The Royal Rumble was held in Albany, New York on January 19, 1992. After drawing number three,
Flair proved why he has been called "the 60-minute man". Flair outlasted the other 29 WWF superstars (eliminating the British Bulldog, Big Boss Man,
Randy Savage & Sid Justice) to win the Royal Rumble and the WWF World Title for the first time. He was in the ring for just over an hour, setting the
record for the longest time in the ring in a Royal Rumble. He held the title until April 5 that same year, when he lost to "Macho Man" Randy Savage in
In Hershey, PA, Flair won the title back from Savage on September 1, 1992 with a
little help from newcomer Razor Ramon. He held the title for just over a month, when Bret "The Hitman" Hart defeated him on October 12. After this,
Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair had a dispute and split up. Flair and his new discovery, Razor Ramon, had a series of matches with Mr. Perfect and Savage.
This feud eventually led to a loser leaves WWF match between Flair and Perfect. Flair lost this match and made his way back to World Championship
Wrestling.When Flair returned to World Championship Wrestling, Barry Windham, former partner in the 4-Horsemen, held the NWA Title and Big Van Vader
was the WCW champion. Flair first went after the title which he had held nine times before, the NWA World Title. He won it from Barry Windham in
Biloxi, Mississippi on July 18, 1993 for his tenth and final NWA title reign. He then lost it to Rick Rude in Houston, Texas on September 19 of that
same year. In September of 1993, the NWA Title became known as WCW International World Title. Flair had several rematches with Rude, but was never
able to beat him for the title due to disqualification finishes.Ric Flair then got into a feud with Big Van Vader, which led to their big match at
Starrcade 1993. Flair put his career on the line against Vader's World Title. On December 27, in front of his hometown audience, Flair defeated Vader
to win the WCW Title for the second time. Then on June 23, 1994, "The Nature Boy" beat Sting for the WCW International World Title in Charleston,
South Carolina. This was the first time Flair won the International World Title, but this match unified the two titles into the World Championship
Wrestling Heavyweight Title. Flair kept the WCW Title until he was defeated by Hulk Hogan on July 17, 1994 in Orlando, Florida.
Flair and Hogan had a series of matches, leading to Flair putting his career on the line for a
shot at the World Title. Hogan defeated Flair in this very controversial match. Flair reappeared on the scene, managing Vader during his feud with
Hogan early in 1995. Because of Flair's constant interference in Hogan's matches, he asked the WCW Executive Commitee to reinstate Flair as an active
wrestler.After Vader was defeated by Hogan at the Bash at the Beach '95, Flair came into the ring and verbally attacked Vader. Arn Anderson, Ric's
long time friend, came to Flair's aid when Vader started to attack. This led to a handicap match at the Clash of the Champions - Ric Flair & Arn
Anderson vs. Vader. Vader defeated Flair/Anderson, getting the pin on Arn. Flair was furious that they had lost and verbally attacked his best
friend.Over the next few months we were brought to believe that Flair and Anderson's longtime friendship had come to an abrupt end. At Fall Brawl '95,
we saw the first match between "The Nature Boy" and "The Enforcer". This match was a see-saw battle. When it appeared that Flair was about to apply
the figure-four. Brian Pillman came to the ringside area and jumped on the apron. Flair went over and punched Pillman. Brian retaliated by kicking
Flair in the head with his cowboy boot, setting up Flair for the DDT. Over the next month, Flair begged Sting to be his partner against Anderson and
Pillman. After figting them alone, Sting saw that Flair was a man of his word. The match was signed for Halloween Havoc.
Early that evening, Flair was supposedly
attacked by Arn and Brian. When it came time for the match, Sting came to the ring alone. Sting controlled the beginning of the match but, as time
went on, Anderson and Pillman took control. Then the croud erupted as "The Nature Boy" came running down the aisle in his street clothes, with his
head bandaged. When Sting was able to get to his corner and make the tag, Flair entered the ring, ran off of the ropes and nailed his partner. They
triple-teamed Sting and left him lying in the ring. On their way back to the locker rooms they did an interview with Mean Gene, stating that the
Horsemen were back!. At Starrcade 1995, in Nashville, Tennessee, the WCW Championship Commitee decided to have a triangle match of the top contenders
(the winner getting a title shot immediately after). The match was set...the winner of Sting vs. Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair would receive the shot at
Randy Savage's World Title. Flair started the match against Sting, then battled against Luger. Then trapped between Sting and Luger, Flair tagged in
Sting to fight his best friend. Nearing the end of the match, Luger got Sting in the Human Torture Rack. When Lex lifted Sting, the ref was hit and
knocked out. Flair came into the ring, clipping the knee of Luger from behind, knocking his opponents out onto the floor. Flair helped the referee up
and he gave them the ten-count.Jimmy Hart came down to ringside and offered to be in Flair's corner during the World Title match. Flair accepted.
Flair and Savage battled back and forth, until the Macho Man got Jimmy Hart's megaphone. He nailed Flair on the head and climbed the ropes. He nailed
a bloody Ric Flair with the flying elbow. As Jimmy Hart distracted the referee, Pillman, Chris Benoit (the newest member of the Horsemen), and
Anderson entered the ring. "Double A" nailed Savage with a foreign object, and layed Flair on top for the pin. Flair was now the WCW Heavyweight
Champion of the World for the third time.At the January, 1996 Clash of the Champions, Hogan and Savage surprised everyone with the appearance of Woman
and Miss Elizabeth. Woman turned on them that night, another set up by the Horsemen. On the January 22 edition of Monday Nitro, Savage won the World
Title back from Flair in Las Vegas, NV. A rematch was scheduled for Superbrawl VI, in St. Petersburg, Florida, in a steel cage. Flair came to the ring
with Woman, and Savage with Elizabeth. Late in the match, Woman had Savage and the referee distracted at one side of the cage. Flair walks over to the
door, to Miss Elizabeth, who gives him her high-heel shoe. Flair nails Savage and gets the pin. He leaves the ring with the World Title, Woman, and
Elizabeth. Flair's fourth title reign lasted until April 22, 1996, when the Giant defeated him on Monday Nitro in Albany, Georgia.
On Monday Nitro, Ric Flair taunted and flirted with Deborah McMichael (wife of
former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael) for weeks. After this, and verbally attacking McMichael himself on several occasions, McMichael recruited Kevin
Greene of the Carolina Panthers to help him battle the 4-Horsemen. The match was set - Flair & Anderson vs. McMichael & Greene.McMichael & Greene were
accompanied to the ring by Randy Savage and their wives. Flair & Anderson were accompanied by Benoit, Elizabeth & Woman (Pillman left WCW after a
dispute with booker, Kevin Sullivan). About halfway through the match, Liz and Woman chased Deborah & Greene's wife back to the locker rooms. As Kevin
Greene was in the ring getting pummeled by the Horsemen, Liz and Woman came back to the ring along with Deborah McMichael. Deborah was carrying a
briefcase which she handed to her husband on the outside of the ring. Steve opened it to find a 4-Horseman T-shirt and it was full of money. About
that time Greene was crawling to the corner to get the tag. McMichael looked at his friend, looked at the money, then nailed Greene with the
briefcase. Flair got the pin, then the 4-Horsemen pounded on Greene and Savage, and left them lying helpless in the ring.Soon thereafter, Flair was
awarded a shot at the U.S. Heavyweight Title. On July 7, 1996, in Daytona Beach, Florida, Ric Flair defeated Konnan to win the U.S. Title for the
sixth time. All of this happened just about the same time that Scott Hall & Kevin Nash started the New World Order. The Horsemen were given the chance
to destroy the NWO in the WARGAMES, but Sting & Luger asked to be part of the team so they could help in defeating NWO before it got too strong.
Benoit and McMichael agreed to step down and let Sting and Luger be on the team. Then, at Fall Brawl, after Sting came down and entered the ring, he
left his three teammates to fight four men. Luger eventually gave up and the Horsemen were cost the win because of Sting & Luger.
Flair held on to the U.S. Title for four months,
until he received a shoulder injury while facing Kensuki Sasaki in Japan. In a lame attempt to make the NWO look stronger, Bischoff made it appear
that Flair was attacked by the NWO on Monday Nitro. On television, He still claims that the NWO put Flair out of wrestling. Because of this injury,
Flair had to vacate the U.S. Title in November of '96.Flair had surgery to repair his shoulder and has been rehabilitating for the last three months.
On the March 10 edition of Monday Nitro, during Piper's interview, the Horsemen came out and confronted Piper. Flair asked Piper to take the Horsemen
as his partners at Uncensored and Piper accepted. Now Piper, McMichael, Benoit & Jarrett will be the Independent team in the 12-Man match. After this
match, Flair came out on Nitro, saying that Piper dropped the ball. It now appears that instead of getting his deserved shot at Hogan, he will be
stuck in a pointless feud with Roddy Piper. Let's hope that WCW thinks on this one and gives Flair a clean win over Hogan before he has to retire.At
Slamboree, in Charlotte, Ric Flair made his return to the ring. He, Roddy Piper & Kevin Greene (of the Carolina Panthers) faced Kevin Nash, Scott Hall
& Syxx. In this match, Flair was in his old form. He started the match and dominated while he was in the ring. NWO took control for a few minutes, but
Flair/Piper/Greene ended up on top. The match ended by Flair applying the figure-4 on Hall, Piper applied the sleeper on Nash, and Greene powerslammed
Syxx. On Nitro the next night, Flair agreed to wrestle Syxx one on one. During the match, the NWO attacked Flair. The Horsemen had been kicked out of
the building earlier that night, so Flair was left helpless. After the beating, Nash said he wouldn't rest until he put Flair and Piper out of
wrestling. The next week on Nitro, Hall and Nash came out and said they wanted to defend the Tag Team Titles against Flair and Piper. This match
happened at The Great American Bash. During the match Flair chased Syxx back to the locker room, leaving Piper alone to be defeated by Hall and Nash.
When confronted by Piper on Nitro, Flair told
him the decision he made was best for Piper, himself, and the team. The next week, Piper questioned Flair again. This time, it not only brought Flair
to the ring, but also Benoit and McMichael. When Mongo and Benoit confronted Piper, The Hot Rod attacked the 2 men, leaving Flair to choose between
the Horsemen or his friend. Flair went after Piper, and was knocked down...when he did his famous beg in the corner...keeping Piper distracted long
enough for Mongo to nail him with the briefcase. Benoit applied the Crippler Crossface while Flair and Mongo stomped away at Piper's head. As Nitro
went to a commercial, the Horsemen were leaving the ring...and Piper was out. After weeks of each member being on their own, this appears to be the
rebirth of The Four Horsemen.After a long abscence, Ric Flair finally made his presence felt on the Big Show w/ John Boy and Billy on September 11,
1998. he was there to announce that no matter what it took, he would get in the building at Nitro that Mondy night.
To be a World Champion means you are the very best at what you do. To earn the title on
more than one occasion is to be among the very best in sports entertainment. To hold the Championship 16 times and still be one of the biggest names
in the business nearly three decades after first setting foot in the ring, is to earn a distinction that puts you in a category of your own . "Living
Legend." All of this and more describes Ric Flair.His combination of flamboyance, athleticism and toughness has made him a true legend. Whether he is
"styling and profiling", mixing it up in the ring or simply lending his expertise at ringside, Flair's contribution to this business is constant and
his legend grows every time he enters an arena. The respect for Flair is boundless, not only do chants of "Woooo!" rain from all corners of the arena
every time he is within sight of the fans, but every time a Superstar any Superstar chops an opponent, fans chant, "Woooo!" in honor of Flair. Some
call Flair, "The Dirtiest Player in the Game." Others refer to him as simply "The Nature Boy." No matter what nickname he has earned, Flair is one of
the cagiest competitors to ever step in the ring and it seems that the legend will continue to grow for a long time to come. Along with Triple H,
Randy Orton and Batista, Flair is currently enjoying a run as a member of Evolution, which could be the most dominating partnership since the Four
Horsemen of the 1980s. More than 20 years after first entering the ring, Flair continues to be at the top of his game.
[Edited on 17/5/04 by TRD]
[Edited on 18/7/04 by TRD]