MOONEYHAM COLUMN: Windham begins long road to recovery
Pro wrestling great Barry Windham continues to recover after suffering a heart attack and a possible stroke on Oct. 26.
The former NWA world champion, regarded as one of the greatest in-ring performers during the ‘80s, collapsed near the family ranch house in Clermont, Fla., and was found in a semi-conscious state.
“We have a pretty big place here. When you don’t see each other, you start looking. When you don’t show up for supper, you start to worry,” said Windham’s father, legendary wrestler Blackjack Mulligan (Bob Windham).
Mulligan’s wife discovered a prone Windham.
“He just fell. He passed out. He was totally out of it when we found him,” said Mulligan. “He couldn’t hear me. I asked him how many fingers I had, and he said he didn’t know. He couldn’t raise his right hand and couldn’t move his right fingers.”
Windham’s size also posed a problem.
“I couldn’t even get him up,” said Mulligan. “I couldn’t lift him. It took seven guys and the emergency crew to get him up and put him in the wagon.”
Windham, 51, was rushed to a nearby hospital where he initially was listed in critical condition. His organs, said his father, were failing when he was first admitted.
“He obviously fell, but we don’t know why,” said Mulligan. “It could have been all day before we found him. By then the organs were failing, and he didn’t even recognize us.”
It was not immediately determined whether Windham had suffered a heart attack, a stroke, or both, says Mulligan, since his son couldn’t move his left leg or right arm. His left knee, says Mulligan, was “the size of a cantaloupe.” His right foot had been turned in a 45-degree angle and spun inside the femur. “He must have fallen backwards. His left knee was dislocated. His right wrist was broken, said Mulligan.
He also suffered elbow injuries and a knot on the back of his head. “It looked like somebody had whipped him with an axe handle,” said his father.
Windham was moved to another hospital when the first facility didn’t have an MRI machine big enough to accommodate the former NWA world champion.
“They think he had a neck injury, somewhat of a broken or chipped neck, that was affecting the nerves in his leg and his arm,” said Mulligan.
Fortunately he recovered feeling in his fingers and toes, said Mulligan. “Everything started to come back, but it was slow.”
Mulligan said late Friday that he’s still not sure whether his son suffered a stroke.
“We couldn’t tell what the problem was for a long time. He did have a heart attack. The heart procedure went all right. The doctor said there was minimal damage and that he had a big, strong heart, and that he was going to be OK. We just don’t know about the stroke damage. He obviously had some kind of seizure, some type of stroke, because he doesn’t have full control. “
Windham is facing long-term rehab, and possibly knee and leg surgery, said his father.
“It’s going to be a long deal,” said Mulligan. “It was a very close call ... we almost lost him.”
Mulligan, though, remains optimistic about the prognosis. He’s also grateful for the help being offered by WWE. Windham worked as an agent and producer for the company until his contract expired in late 2008.
“HHH approved the whole funding,” said Mulligan, referring to WWE star and executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque, with whom Windham has been longtime friends.
Windham, says his father, has been moved to a top-flight rehab center.
“A big, black Cadillac limo pulled up to the hospital. A chauffeur got out, and two doctors put him (Windham) in the back of an ambulance and whisked him off. He’s at a place where they’re taking care of all of his problems. He’s being ministered to physically and spiritually.”
The problems are many, and Windham faces a long, uphill battle.
“He needed to go somewhere they teach you to walk, talk and eat again. I had to send him to a regular nursing home, which didn’t handle all his problems. But this place does.”
Mulligan also was heartened by a response to an email he recently sent his son.
“Barry, I love you,” his father wrote.
“I love you, too, Dad,” his son replied.
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Darren Young and Tough Enough winner Andy Leavine are both currently out of action due to their suspensions.
-- Former WWE performer Chris Masters (Chris Mordetzky) addressed his past struggles with drug addiction in a recent video he posted.
“I’ve been through this,” said Masters, who was released by WWE last summer. “I’ve been through addiction. I’m not proud of it. I shouldn’t be alive. I went through a period where I ingested 70 pills daily on a regular basis, and I still lived to tell about it.”
Masters recently claimed WWE made a mistake by releasing him for the second time.
“I was a million times better in my second run with the company; I was one of the better all-round guys in that place,” the 28-year-old performer told The Wrestling Press. “You got a lot of guys who are really green and I am at the peak of my career. For me it’s a controversial release ... they dropped the ball.”
-- Kris Shield, an independent pro wrestler who appears under the name Chris Carnage, was among 32 people arrested last week in a major steroid bust in Ohio.
The ring used drugs imported from China and processed at a secret lab in Tennessee to peddle drugs to high school athletes and other customers with a business model that implemented techniques such as bonuses and rebates, said authorities.
Thirty-two individuals were indicted on charges that include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking drugs and drug possession, according to police and prosecutors. Also among those charged were a bank manager, a financial planner, a delivery truck driver, a health club manager and a stay-at-home mom.
Authorities seized more than $600,000 in steroids, about $300,000 in cash and vehicles, and a number of assault rifles and other firearms, some used for security at the lab and others that appear to be collected.
-- Georgia Wrestling History announced its 2011 Hall of Fame class of Ric Flair, Stan Hansen, The Road Warriors, Doug Gilbert, Ted Allen, Jerry and Ted Oates, and Ronnie West.
Last year’s class included Abdullah The Butcher, Ann Gunkel, Bill Longson, The Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts), Jack McAdams, Joe “The Assassin” Hamilton, Nick Patrick (Nick Hamilton) and Rock Hunter.
-- Nov. 20 will be a very special evening for Lowcountry sports fans. “Kaos for the Coach,” a fundraiser for longtime area football coach Phillip Morgan, will be held at Goose Creek High School.
Morgan, who coached such standouts as 2000 top NFL draft pick Courtney Brown and 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton, was paralyzed after suffering a massive stroke a year ago.
The benefit will feature an Old School Championship Wrestling show. Among those already confirmed for the show are The Barbarian and Lodi. A number of guest celebrities also are expected to attend. Bell time is 6 p.m.
Donations, which will be taken the night of the event, are $25 ringside and $10 general admission. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Coach Morgan.
For more information, visit oscwonline.com or call 843-743-4800.