Russ Francis, a former NFL athlete who competed at WrestleMania 2, passed away in a plane crash at the age of 70 on October 1, 2023, CNN reports.
Francis and AOPA Air Safety Institute Vice President Richard McSpadden were flying a Cessna 177 out of Lake Placid Airport when the aircraft “experienced an emergency after takeoff.”
While the aircraft attempted to return to the airport, it crashed into a ravine near the airport. Both Francis and McSpadden were killed.
Francis died in Upstate New York alongside aviation safety expert McSpadden when their Cessna Cardinal crashed near the runway of the Lake Placid Airport.
Francis’ father was a professional wrestler and promoter in Hawaii per PWInsider, who eventually sold his territory to Peter Maivia. Russ competed in NWA Hawaii and held the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship with his brother Billy Roy in 1978. He played football in the NFL for the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers from 1975 through 1988.
Francis briefly competed in the AWA after retiring from his football career and was part of the WrestleMania 2 battle royal along with a number of other NFL players. They competed in the ring in 1987, teaming up with Jimmy Snuka.
On behalf of eWn, we send our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Mr. Francis.