Monday, August 27, 2007

Occupational Hazards of a Professional Wrestler

Death Grip
Pro Wrestlers' Grim Cycle: Pain, Drugs And Doom

Washington Post Staff Writer - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - By Paul Farhi

Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, best friends through thin times and thickening bodies, strutted in shared triumph around the ring in Madison Square Garden. Guerrero had just successfully defended his World Wrestling Entertainment title; Benoit had defeated two opponents to wear the belt as world heavyweight champion.

The wrestling was scripted, but the mutual sense of achievement on March 14, 2004, was real. After all the travel on back roads, the spiritual and pharmacological comfort, the dreams and near-death, the two pals had reached the professional pinnacle together.

Both were relatively small men in a business of behemoths, and both had built stupendous physiques by pumping their muscles with steroids and human growth hormones. After years of wandering through wrestling's grimy lower levels, the men -- now in their mid-30s -- had grown into well-paid star attractions in WWE, the richest and most glamorous wrestling enterprise.

Side by side at the Garden, their boyhood dreams finally realized, the easygoing, Mexican-born Guerrero and the intense, Canadian-born Benoit stood on the mountaintop, seemingly in peak physical form.
Within a little more than three years, both would be dead.

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