Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Fred Blassie Page

Last updated 16 September 1999

How Fred Blassie Cheated Death

By The Editors of Wrestling Sports Stars (with thanks to Mike Rogers)

He was as cocky as ever. He looked into a full length mirror, meticulously grooming his hair, making sure every strand was in its proper place. then he stepped back and looked himself over, first from the front and then from the side. a broad smile broke upon his face, almost like a sneer. Fred Blassie turned away, wiped his face with a towel and sat down. He looked far from being a dead man. "I guess I made quite a number of believers out of a lot of pencil necks from coast to coast, and around the world, too," exclaimed Blassie. "I am speaking about all those people who never fully appreciated my great talent. Now they know. Now they can't deny the fact that I am an extraordinary human being. "No other wrestler in the history of the sport ever overcame what I did. I came back from the dead not once, but twice. I was written off medically as a lost case. They felt so certain that I was going to die that one newspaper in Atlanta just about had my obituary written. "They, too, didn't realize the greatness that I represent. I am far from an ordinary individual. Anybody can see that. No normal person could go through what I did in pain and suffering and still laugh at death. That was the biggest battle of my life, bigger than anything I had in the ring. Yet, I looked death straight in the eye and came out the winner." Amazingly enough, no wrestler in the ring today ever faced death in the manner Blassie did and survived. It's unreal. He not only survived, but every time he steps into the ring he is regarded as a living miracle. Love him or hate him you still have to admire him. Blassie is the only wrestler on the circuit who is performing with only one kidney.

A few years back Blassie concluded one of his many successful tours of Japan. He stopped in Hawaii on his way back to the United States for a few days of relaxation. His relaxation turned into a nightmare. After two days in Honolulu, Blassie was rushed to the hospital with a severe kidney stone attack. while confined to bed, Blassie somehow contracted hepatitis. It irked him that he was a shut-in for three weeks. "My sickness cost me the chance to play a role in the movie, Hawaii," fumed Blassie who always had the aura of Hollywood in his appearance. "It also forced me to cancel out on a number of television shows in Los Angeles that I had lined up. I was quite depressed. I was feeling weak like I never felt before, I mean like a baby. I decided the best thing for me to do at the time was to return home to Atlanta." It is hard to imagine Blassie as being depressed and weak. He always bubbles with confidence, so much so that it actually borders on braggadocio. His cockiness in the 25 years he's been on the circuit has been his trademark.

This was one time in his colorful career that Blassie wasn't in control of a situation. In simple words, he was helpless. "I tried to make an appointment with the top urologist in Atlanta," recalled Blassie. "However, he was so busy I couldn't get an appointment for 10 days. I knew I couldn't wait that long to find out what was wrong with me. A couple of days later I called another urologist and he told me to come in the next day. "The urologist gave me a thorough examination and then arranged for me to immediately enter a hospital. the doctors confirmed what he had suspected, that I had hepatitis in its worse stages. I'll tell you how bad it was. I lost 40 pounds, my weight dropping from 248 to 208. I overheard them when they were talking, something to the effect that they didn't think I was going to make it." "I couldn't sleep. that night I was awake practically all night thinking that the end had come for me. I was really feeling low. But, I thought of the good life and how much I enjoyed it. I said to myself that this isn't the way they're going to count me out, alone in a hospital without any fanfare. I made up my mind right then that I would fight this illness with every ounce of strength in my body. I never quit on anything in my life so I wasn't about to now." So, Blassie began the biggest single battle in his life, either in or out of a wrestling ring. Within a week he began to make progress. He amazed the doctors with his recovery. The doctors began to feel that he would be able to wrestle in about six months. Blassie was hospitalized for close to a month. the doctors were convinced that his remarkable body enabled him to recover and kept him from actually dying. He was released from the hospital in June and sternly warned that he shouldn't attempt to wrestle again until at least January. That's all they had to do, tempt Blassie with a deadline.

"I reasoned that if this body of mine was such a unique physical specimen then I could put it back to work in a ring in less time than that," remarked Blassie. "So, without over-exerting myself, I began to work out a week after I was out of the hospital. First I did some jogging every day and then I began to work out with the weights. I never realized how weak I had become. I lost more strength than I anticipated. However, it all began to come together and within a month I had regained my strength. I felt so good that I called a local promoter and told him I was ready and he gave me a match two weeks later." "I'll tell you how good I felt. I sent my doctor, the one who told me not to wrestle for at least six months, a couple of tickets and told him to be my guest at ringside. He couldn't believe it. He came to the match and shook his head in disbelief afterward. 'If I didn't see it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it,' he said. I told him that Fred Blassie has been doing the impossible all of his life." Blassie continued his career the next few months, but wisely didn't maintain a heavy schedule of matches. He wrestled twice a week in continuing his comeback. His weight climbed back to normal yet Blassie didn't feel quite right. He noticed that his right side kept swelling up. At first he didn't think too much of it, figuring it was a bruise that kept getting irritated from landing on the mat.

Finally, when it began to get tender, Blassie checked with his doctor. He took tome x-rays of Blassie's kidneys and remarked that they didn't look too good. He ordered Blassie to the hospital and told him he better plan on surgery. They took additional x-rays at the hospital and they revealed a perforation of the urita tube. "The doctor informed me point-blank that an operation right away was necessary," recalled Blassie. "He said he didn't know what he would find but hoped for the best. It sounded like another death knell, just six months after the first one. This time I was more concerned. After all, this time I was undergoing surgery." "I'll never forget the operation either. It was only supposed to last about an hour or two but it took five and a half. Only because of my stamina did I survive the operation. If it had been anybody else, they wouldn't have pulled through but died right there on the operating table." "The doctor explained later when I awoke that my entire stomach was filled with urine. He couldn't understand why I didn't die from ureic poisoning.

He said my right kidney wasn't functioning at all and he had to remove it.

Boy, was that a shocker. If I ever had my back to the wall before, it was coming through the other side now." "But, I wasn't about to let it cave in on me. I got up out of bed the morning after the operation, washed my face, combed my hair and walked around the room a few times. The nurse came in my room screaming for me to get back in bed. When I refused, he went after the doctor. I was sitting up in bed when he arrived and he asked me if it was true that I was walking around?

When I told him it was true he said that I must have the constitution of 10 men." Still, Blassie wasn't out of danger. There was quite a great amount of poison that remained in his system. Drains were injected into his body to remove it. They were there for a week. Blassie's weight had dropped to 220 pounds. His doctor then informed him that he wouldn't be able to wrestle again. Blassie couldn't believe it. It was big enough news for the Atlanta Journal to send a photographer. Blassie's picture appeared in a column the next day with the headline, "Freddie Will Never Be Bad Again." It certainly looked like the end of Blassie's career. "I felt dejected after the doctor told me that I couldn't wrestle again, " admitted Blassie. "I felt that maybe I had had it. I only had one kidney and there isn't anybody climbing into the ring under a handicap like that. " "However, when the article came out and I saw it in print, I got my dander up. My adrenaline was flowing. I said to myself that nobody is going to write me off like that. I called the newspaper and got the writer on the phone. I told him I got four words for you: Don't bet on it! This was the greatest challenge of my life. I couldn't wait to get out of the hospital. I had something to prove, not only to my self but to thousands of people who read that article. I knew I had to come back, not just half-way but all the way to the top where I was and where I belonged." After a month, Blassie was released from the hospital. The long road back was just beginning. This time he couldn't rush into training. He had to wait six months before he began to engage in light workouts. His body was undergoing a big chemical change. He was placed on a special diet and he couldn't eat a great deal of the food he liked.

One of the turning points in his comeback was a marriage to a Japanese movie starlet. She helped nurse Blassie back to health with practically 24 hour care. She watched his diet closely, comforted him and made sure he got proper rest. "I couldn't have made it without her," admitted Blassie. "She is an extraordinary woman. I've been all over the world and I have never met anybody like her. And just think, she gave up a movie career to be my wife." Finally, after two long and torturous years, not knowing what the future would be, Blassie felt he was ready to return to the ring. He had worked his way back to shape and now all that was left was the ring and the bright lights he knew. However, getting a match wasn't easy. The promoters didn't want to take a chance with a wrestler who had one kidney, even if it was Fred Blassie. The one who gave him a chance was Jules Strongbow in Las Angeles. After two years, Blassie was booked for his comeback. "Strongbow had enough faith in me to give me a chance," remarked Blassie.

"And, I didn't let him down. I'm back on top where I belong. And people everywhere paid to see Fred Blassie come back from the obituary column. they did indeed. Blassie has the box office receipts to prove it.

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