His name may not be instantly recognizable to the masses, but the death of former WWE and WCE wrestler Sean O’Haire, real name Sean Haire, is no less tragic. According to the official obituary, O’Haire died at his home in Spartanburg, S.C., on Monday. Per Wrestlezone.com:
O’Haire was trained at the WCW Power Plant, and made his pro wrestling debut on an episode of WCW Nitro in 2000. In his year with the company he became a three-time WCW Tag Team Champion, twice with Mark Jindrak and another with Chuck Palumbo. When WWE bought out WCW, O’Haire’s contract was purchased and he made his debut on Smackdown as part of The Alliance. As a team, O’Haire and Palumbo had feuds with the Brothers of Destruction and the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA), as well as stars like Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell and Team Canada in WCW. After wrestling, O’Haire pursued the sport of Kickboxing, before transitioning into MMA, where he finished his career with a professional record of 4-2.
Officials have yet to release a cause of death for O’Haire, who in any other industry, would’ve been said to have passed away unusually early, but TMZ Sports is reporting it was an apparent suicide.
Unfortunately, pro wrestling has seen an awful lot of former stars die at relatively young ages. While one might think the high death rate in this often dangerous athletic occupation would be caused be tragic accidents, such as the 50-foot fall that killed Owen Hart in front of a pay-per-view crowd in 1999, most wrestlers who have died young have succumb to either suicide, overdoses, or most surprisingly at first glance, perhaps, cardiovascular disease — all of which can be side effects of the rough-and-tumble lifestyle professional wrestlers often lead.
Most recently, the Ultimate Warrior died unexpectedly at the age of 54 in April — just days after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The cause of death was a heart attack.
He is just one of many competitors from WrestleMania VI, which took place in 1990, that the Yahoo Sports spinoff Web site The Post Game has chronicled as deceased. The site found one-third of that event’s participants — or 12 wrestlers — have died, with the oldest death occurring at age 63. The site puts that staggering number into perspective:
As a point of reference, of the 44 starting players from that year’s Super Bowl between the 49ers and Broncos, only one has died: Denver defensive end Ron Holmes, who was 48 when he passed away in 2011 from diabetes and coronary issues.
Save for Dino Bravo, who was murdered at age 44, two overdose deaths, and a death resulting from cancer, eight of the 12 wrestlers from WrestleMania VI who have died have all passed away from heart disease or heart attacks.
- Ultimate Warrior, 54, suspected heart attack
- Macho Man, 58, heart attack
- Andre the Giant, 46, heart failure
- Ravishing Rick Rude, 40, heart failure
- Big Boss Man, 44, heart attack
- Bad News Brown, 63, heart attack
- Hercules, 47, heart disease
- Sapphire, 61, heart attack
Are people prone to heart problems somehow more attracted to becoming wrestling stars or is the business of wrestling harder on one’s cardiovascular health than other athletic activities? Most experts believe it to be the latter.
Wrestling is hard on one’s health, not least of which is because it’s a year-round job that requires its practitioners to sacrifice their bodies day in and day out. This means pain management is a necessary job requirement, and as it happens with many types of painkillers — whether taken prescriptively or abusively — they can have very real and terrible side effects on heart health. A 2013 study found that even over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen can increase a person’s chance of suffering a heart attack.
Of course, there are various other reasons that could cause a former wrestler to die at 43, a whole bunch of which have nothing to do with the industry at all. So until South Carolina authorities release the cause of death, the latest wrestler to die too young should instead just be remembered for the life he lived, and it was quite good in the ring.
Correction: This article originally mistook the state in which Spartanburg is located.