100 Wrestlers Who Died Before Their Time


The cause of death was later determined to be an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone. He also suffered from heart disease, which had been a contributing factor in his death.

34. Doug Furnas (1959-2012) – 52 Years


Worked For: AJPW, WCW, ECW

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship – with Phil Lafond. AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Dan Kroffat

Doug (right) was part of  The Can-Am Express tag team with Phil LaFon. Furnas’ body was discovered on March 3, 2012 at his home in Tucson, Arizona; the precise date of his death could not be estimated by the medical examiner because of decomposition, but is presumed to have been sometime in February. he was 52 years old. The official cause of death was atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. He had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for many years prior to his death.

35. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (1960-2009) – 49 Years

Worked For: NWA, AJPW, ECW, WWF

Achievements:WCW World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mike Rotunda (1) and Terry Gordy (1). AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. AJPW World Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Terry Gordy (5), Gary Albright (1), Vader (1) and Johnny Ace (1).

The throat cancer eventually returned and Williams’s health gradually worsened. His last public appearance was at the K&S Wrestlefest Wrestling Convention on December 12, 2009, in Carteret, New Jersey. On December 29, 2009, Williams died at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver from throat cancer.

36. Earthquake (1963-2006) – 42 Years

Worked For: AJPW, WWF WCW

Achievements: WWF Tag Team Championship – with Typhoon

Tenta retired from wrestling in 2004 after it was revealed that he had developed bladder cancer, in which he was given a 20% chance to live, assuming he continued with his chemotherapy treatments.

During his November 18, 2005 interview on WrestleCrap Radio, Tenta announced that a recent radiation dosage did not go as planned, and had no effect on the tumor. He also announced that multiple tumors had spread to his lungs.

The first public notice of Tenta’s death was posted on WWE.com on June 7, 2006. On the June 9, 2006 edition of SmackDown, and the June 12, 2006 edition of Raw, WWE showed a bumper that read “RIP ‘Earthquake’ John Tenta” before each show began.

37. Ed Gantner (1959-1990) – 31 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship

In 1988, Gantner’s health began to go downhill after years of steroid use. His kidneys were the first to start failing, causing him to undergo kidney dialysis, forced him to be hooked up several hours a week to a machine to survive.

Doctors also forced Gantner to lose 100 lbs, as he nearly weighed 300 lbs. He complied by giving up red meat and starting a holistic diet, making his own watermelon tea. Despite the changes, he could not stop using steroids and had started using cocaine. He was rushed to the hospital for heart failure four times within two months. At that point, he started asking around for a firearm.

By the fall of 1989, his heart and kidneys were failing, after refusing doctors’ orders to lose weight and alter his exercise regimen. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1989, Gantner received a kidney transplant, as his sister donated her kidney. His family thought the worst was over. However, five days after the transplant, he asked that weights be brought to his room, as he went back to using steroids.

The strain of recovering from the transplant caused Gantner to lose weight, but he had still an imposing figure. Despite this, when he looked into a mirror, he saw a defective, distorted image. Self-conscious about his physique, he would wear shorts under his jeans to look bigger. While in the gym, he would wear an extra pair of socks to bulk up his calves. Over the next six months, he would go back to the hospital five times, because of complications. He would also move from Orlando, to St. Augustine, to West Palm Beach, working as a salesman.

Early in the fall of 1990, Gantner’s mental health began to falter, as he started calling his parents late at night. He would get dressed for work, make it to his car, and sit there for a half-hour with the keys in the ignition, before going back in his house. When his mother finally decided to bring him home in Orlando, she found him in a dark room, sitting down, rocking on his bed.

Back home with his parents in Orlando, Gantner would not eat, sleep, or work out. He would shower constantly and pace all night long. When his mother tried to take him for a haircut, he made her drive all over town, and at each stop, he refused to leave the car.

By November 1990, Gantner was placed in a psychiatric ward at a Florida hospital, where he stayed until after Christmas. During this time, he began casting about for solutions and new truths—meditation, vitamins, even faith healing with Rev. Benny Hinn.

Feeling defeated, on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1990, Ed Gantner committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in the kitchen of his parents’ home in Orlando, Florida. He was 31 years old.

38. Eddie Gilbert (1961-1995) – 33 Years

Worked For: WWF, Mid-South, JCP, WCW

Achievements: USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (4 times). NWA Tri-State Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Ricky Morton (1), and Tommy Gilbert (2). ECW Tag Team Championship – with Dark Patriot. AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Tommy Gilbert (2), Tommy Rich (1), and Ricky Morton (1)

On February 18, 1995, Gilbert (left) died of a heart attack. His father, Tommy Gilbert, stated that injuries to Eddie’s chest and heart muscle had occurred in a serious car crash in 1983 and could have been a factor; Eddie’s alleged use of painkillers since the accident could also have contributed to his heart condition.

39. Eddie Guerrero (1967-2005) – 38 Years

Worked For: AAA, NJPW, ECW, WCW, WWE

Achievements: WWE Championship. Eleventh WWE Triple Crown Champion. Sixth WWE Grand Slam Champion. AAA World Tag Team Championship – with Art Barr. WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2006)

On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his motel room at The Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene. He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

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