The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair built a legendary career in pro wrestling with a larger-than-life personality and innate ability to entertain. However, it didn’t take long until the persona and the man became one in the same. At the same time behind the sequined robes, designer clothes, limousines and Learjets was someone who endured his fair share of pain and tragedy.
Director Rory Karpf captured all sides of the two-time WWE Hall of Famer in the latest in the ESPN Film’s 30 for 30 series. The documentary reveals fascinating tidbits about Flair that may surprise wrestling enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike.
Here are seven crazy moments from 30 for 30: Nature Boy:
1. Ric Flair wanted to become a dentist
Flair was adopted by a couple who lost a daughter the year before. They celebrated his birthday on February 25, but also had an anniversary on March 18. That is the day he was adopted. He was about 10 when he found out, but Flair didn’t care much about the revelation. Dad was a doctor. At one point, Flair wanted to actually become a dentist. His parents were into theater and drama. He felt he disappointed them every day.
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2. Ric Flair wanted to quit wrestling before he even started
Flair quit college to pursue wrestling and attended an open camp hosted by the late Verne Gagne. With an athletic background, he felt confidence in his abilities. The camp was no joke. It included running up and down 21 flights of stairs, then doing it with someone on your shoulders and wheel barrows. Form there came working out in the ring in a barn with no windows and one light bulb. Flair looked to quit and couldn’t take the grueling regimen. Verne Gagne found him and open handed him. He knocked him on the floor and told him he couldn’t quit.
3. Ric Flair almost died in a plane crash in 1975
At the start of his career, Flair was in a plane headed from Charlotte to Wilmington, North Carolina when it crashed. He broke his back in three places, going from 255 pounds to 180 pounds recovering. He essentially had to start from scratch. The incident was a life-changer in his eyes as he believes he found the “Nature Boy” character during this period.
4. Ric Flair has been with a lot of women. A lot of women.
“If I said it on TV, I lived it.” That is what Flair said before he was asked exactly how many women he had been with. His answer: “Realistically, 10,000.” That’s right: 10,000 ladies. Another past-time of his was being somewhat of a nude exhibitionist. Flair would wear his robe in public places and nothing else.
5. Ric Flair was a fully functioning alcoholic
Flair gained respect from fans and peers alike by giving 100 percent in matches. Outside of wrestling, Flair’s partying exploits pretty much always came with drinking the night away. He tells a story of a session with a sports psychologist. The psychologist then asks him how many drinks he has daily. Flair says 10 beers and five mixed drinks. He has apparently been doing that each day for almost 20 years. Legendary broadcaster Jim Ross reflects on a night with Flair where he ordered 137 kamikazes for the bar.
'I'll become a hero to men. And women are gonna hate me,' the legendary wrestler says of the new ESPN film.
6. Ric Flair’s son overdosed
Flair enjoyed a monumental sendoff by WWE, but was lost about what he wanted to do in retirement. Divorce coupled with not being good with his finances brought him back to wrestling. He felt lost. During this period son Reid was following in his footsteps. The problem was he had his share of alcohol and drug problem to battle. In a heart-wrenching portion of the doc, Flair recounts discovering Reid overdosed and died.
7. Ric Flair suffered from depression
Friend Paul “Triple H” Levesque ended up being the one to get Flair help even when he didn’t want any because he saw him fading away in a deep depression. What has helped keep him going is daughter Ashley, who has found success in WWE performing as Charlotte. He finds joy witnessing her accomplishments.