Professional wrestling star and Charlottean Ric Flair was admitted to a hospital over the weekend, and a tweet sent out by his management team early Monday seeks prayers for “tough medical issues.”
Media outlets reported 68-year-old Flair – known as “The Nature Boy” – was in intensive care, and that the issue was heart related.
“Are u a Fan/Friend of Ric Flair?” asked the Tweet from Melinda Morris Zanoni of Legacy Talent and Entertainment. “If so, we need prayers & positive energy 4 our Living Legend as he is dealing w/some tough medical issues.”
The ominous sounding tweet represented a change in tone from what Zanoni was saying Saturday, when she described the hospital visit as “routine monitoring” and said there was “no reason to panic.”
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A day later, Zanoni was asking for prayers, both on Twitter and Facebook. None of her posts have specified why Flair was admitted to a hospital. It was also unclear Monday if Flair was being treated in Charlotte, which is the city he calls home.
Fans noted the quick change in his health status with concern, and many asked for more details.
“Last night, it was routine. Tonight, it’s tough medical issues,” posted Larissa Angel on Facebook. “As a true life-time dedicated fan, my heart is breaking and I just wish we had more information! I have been praying since he missed his show in Virginia on the 5th. I know we are not technically family but...it’s really hard to sit back and have to wonder.”
Added Tobi Kallbach on Facebook: “(Is) there any more information about the tough health issues Ric Flair is dealing with? I think I am not the only person who is very concerned about his well-being.”
Flair had a previous health scare in December 1998, when he slumped in the corner of a wrestling ring prior to a World Championship Wrestling event in Tampa. He was admitted to a hospital for tests, but it was found the numbness in his left arm and chest spasms were not due to a heart attack.
Flair earned 16 world championships since the late 70s, but became just as famous for his in-ring antics, including rule breaking, his cocky interview style, strutting and shouting the catchphrase “WOOOOO!” The latter has become his trademark.
An Aug. 8 Observer story noted Flair’s hard-edged wrestling persona has appeared to mellow in recent months. The former “world champion” has given a series of painfully honest interviews leading up to a documentary about his career on ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” series. It will air Nov. 7.
Flair spoke of some regrets in the interviews, including not being able to draw a line between his big, loud wrestling persona and his personal life.
However, true to his wrestling style, he made no apologies.
Flair’s fame has endured a decade after his heyday, in part because his glitzy, jewelry wearing persona was embraced by a younger generation of rappers. In a recent article, Complex.com called Flair “Hip-Hop’s Favorite Wrestler.”
As a result, he has experienced a resurgence in popularity since retiring a decade ago.
“His lifestyle has become the rapper blueprint and his name has become a metaphor for pageantry,” wrote Complex. “In Ric Flair, rap artists have found the embodiment of their brashest selves, co-opting his character’s brand as a stand-in for extravagance and excess.”