AWA pro wrestling Hall of Fame legend Verne Gagne is under police investigation in the death of a fellow resident Helmut Gutmann, 93, at a Bloomington care facility (nursing home in Minnesota).
Verne, former multiple-time World Champion and promoter of the American Wrestling Association, is 82 and suffering from Alzheimer’s, while Gutmann was suffering from dementia and short term memory.
Gagne grabbed Helmut and threw him on the floor, cracking his hip. He later died. I wouldn’t be surprised if Verne thought Gutmann was a Nazi wrestler from 1957.
Condolences to both families. However, the police better not charge Verne with anything- Alzheimer victims are no longer in control of their mental facilities.
It’s a shame Verne Gagne became a footnote in popular culture after the WWF, under Vince McMahon, put the AWA out of business. At one time the AWA was huge, and Gagne was a household name. Verne was actually one of the first TV celebrities in the midwest is and considered an icon because of his amateur background in mat wrestling.
Granted, many inside stories revealed that Verne was a mean boss, and refused to change his wrestling product to a more modern and gimmicky product. In fact, the AWA was called Verne’s “Pet Dinosaur”, since it refused to “get with the times”. Verne hated muscle, which is why he let Hulk Hogan jump to the WWF.
Actually, I could probably write a book about Verne’s wrestling and booking career. Suffice to say, Verne was as influential as Vince McMahon was, and it’s a shame he has a disease and is in a nursing home, and killed a man. Although the majority of young people outside of wrestling don’t know who he is, this sad story would be the equivalent of Vince McMahon being in a nursing home 20 years from now. To wrestling fans, this is HUGE news. To people in Minnesota, this is HUGE.
Verne’s wrestling school had the following graduates: Gagne operated a training school that produced such stars as Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig, Gene Anderson, Lars Anderson, Ole Anderson, Ken Patera, Baron Von Raschke, Blackjack Lanza, Jim Brunzell, and his son Greg Gagne.
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