Adrian 'Lionheart' McCallum is just the latest professional wrestler to die young.
Adrian 'Lionheart' McCallum is just the latest professional wrestler to die young.

Wrestling’s horror list of dead stars

Wrestling hero Adrian "Lionheart" McCallum took his own life months after he tried to save a teenage neighbour from a fatal house fire.

Lionheart had been a top wrestler for the last 10 years.

He appeared on a host of popular shows including WWE and TNA and was one of the UK's most famous wrestlers.

WWE superstar Paige tweeted her tribute, and remembered another tragic British wrestler Kris Travis, who died of stomach cancer in 2016.

The former wrestler - real name Saraya-Jade Bevis - wrote: "Breaks my heart. RIP my friend. You were always so wonderful to me and I'll be forever grateful that I knew you. Give Trav a big hug from me."

WWE wrestler Cedric Alexander said he was "crushed" to hear of McCallum's death.

He tweeted: "I'm crushed to hear the passing of Adrian 'Lionheart' McCallum."

Sadly the man who used the Lionheart moniker, as did a young Chris Jericho, is just the latest wrestler to have passed away at a young age.

From superstars who have dropped dead from heart attacks in their 30s to others who have killed themselves, the industry is rife with tragedy.

Death rates for wrestlers aged between 45 and 54 are a shocking 2.9 times greater than those for average men, a US study found

They're also higher than those for athletes in many sports - but why do so many professional wrestlers seem to be cursed with dying young, when they should be in the prime of their life?

Experts believe a range of factors are to blame - including the often rampant steroid, drug and alcohol abuse of previous decades and the psychological impact of life constantly on the road.

Another suggested factor is the lack of an official 'off-season' in professional wrestling, which means stars can end up getting back in the ring before healing from their injuries.

Gary Bloom, Harley Street psychotherapist, told The Sun online that wrestling several times a week, without a proper rest, can cause serious health issues.

He explained how overstimulation of the limbic system - the part of the brain where the 'fight or flight' response begins - for long periods of time "does not do you very good".

"That amount of adrenaline in your system can damage your organs," he says.

"In comparison, footballers play just 90 minutes then have three or four days off."

The cause of Scottish legend McCallum's death is unknown but as he joins the list of superstars gone too soon, we reveal ten more wrestling greats who tragically died while still at their peak:

Eddie Guerrero, 38

Eddie Guerrero’s signature Frog Splash.
Eddie Guerrero’s signature Frog Splash.

Guerrero was one of the most-loved wrestlers ever to step inside the ring.

Four years after quitting World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2000, he became WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Champion.

However, his career came to a tragic end when he was found unconscious in a hotel room by his cousin and fellow wrestler Chavo Guerrero on November 13, 2005.

Eddie was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. It turned out he'd suffered acute heart failure aged just 38.

Yokozuna, 34

Every wrestling fan from the 1990s knows exactly who Yokozuna was. Despite being Samoan, Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi played the role of a Japanese sumo and headlined WrestleMania twice.

The 260kg-plus former two-time world champion died aged 34 of a pulmonary oedema - an accumulation of fluid in the lungs - partially caused by his weight, in a hotel room in Liverpool in October 2000.

Previous research has found that morbidly obese professional wrestlers are particularly at risk of premature death. Yokozuna was initially reported to have died from heart failure, before the actual cause of death was revealed.

Owen Hart, 34

Owen Hart (left) with brother Bret.
Owen Hart (left) with brother Bret.

The self-proclaimed "King of Harts" and brother of Bret "Hitman" Hart was one of the biggest stars on the WWE roster during the peak of the Attitude Era.

But he died aged just 34 after falling from the roof of the Kemper Arena due to a cable malfunction during a live televised pay-per-view in May 1999.

At the time, he was making his entrance to face The Godfather for the IC Title.

Brian Pillman, 35

The "Loose Cannon" lived up to every bit of his nickname with his antics in front of the camera.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin's former partner joined WWE in 1996 after making his name in WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

However, he was found dead in his hotel room aged just 35 on the day he was supposed to wrestle Dude Love on a pay-per-view event.

It later emerged he had passed away from a congenital heart condition - the same disease that had killed his father when Pillman was only a child.

Kris Travis, 32

Travis was an icon of the British wrestling circuit after working for numerous promotions.

He was tipped for worldwide stardom until he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2014.

A year later it was announced he had beaten the disease as he made an in-ring comeback.

But tragically, in September 2015, brave Travis revealed the cancer had returned and he passed away in March 2016 aged just 32, two months after marrying his longtime girlfriend.

Crash Holly, 32

Crash Holly was arguably the greatest Hardcore Champion in WWE history, courtesy of his impressive 22 title reigns.

The pint-sized bleach blonde grappler was a fan favourite thanks to his escapades and battles against much-larger opponents.

Unfortunately, one fight he was unable to win was with his mental health problems.

He died aged 32 in November 2003, with a post-mortem report ruling he had killed himself after an overdose of pills, mixed with alcohol.

British Bulldog - Davey Boy Smith, 39

The British Bulldog was one of the biggest stars of the 1990s.
The British Bulldog was one of the biggest stars of the 1990s.

Smith was possibly the most famous British wrestler of all time.

"The Bulldog" was a huge name in WWE throughout the 1980s and 90s and became a national hero when he beat Bret Hart for the IC Title at SummerSlam '92 in front of a packed Wembley Stadium.

The Lancashire lad died on 18 May 2002, aged 39, after suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Invermere, British Columbia.

An autopsy revealed past anabolic steroid use may have played a part in his death.

Today, WWE talent are subjected to random drug tests and expected to live healthy lifestyles, with the company implementing the Talent Wellness Program in 2006.

Chris Kanyon, 40

Like Crash Holly, Kanyon sadly took his own life.

Best known for his work with WCW, the wrestler, who suffered with bipolar disorder, joined WWE as part of the Invasion angle - a fictional storyline - in 2001.

He came out as gay following his release from WWE and, prior to his death, he chronicled his struggles as a closeted gay man in a book he was working on.

He killed himself by overdosing on antidepressants on April 2, 2010, aged just 40.

Andrew 'Test' Martin, 33

The towering powerhouse was another star of the Attitude Era but was released in 2007 due to violating the company's wellness policy.

He was found dead in his Tampa home on March 13, 2009, four days before his 34th birthday.

His death was ruled an accidental overdose of oxycodone with forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu later determining Martin had severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy - or brain damage - caused by repeated concussions and subconcussive head injuries.

This article orginally appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.



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