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Article on Kevin Von Erich from Wrestling August 1987

Sports Review Wrestling August 1987

Kevin Von Erich Takes On Nord the Barbarian:
The Test of a Man – The Test of a Champion

The dead can live only with the exact intensity and quality imparted to them by the living.
- Joseph Conrad

In the future, their name will be legend and the story will go something like this. For many years, there was a family called the Von Erichs and the family ruled professional wrestling in Texas. There was the father, Fritz, and his four wrestling sons, Kevin, Kerry, Mike and David. Everybody knew who they were, and they won many championships.

But David died at a young age. Then Kerry got into a horrible accident and couldn’t wrestle. Soon after that, Mike committed suicide and suddenly there was only Kevin, left all alone. He was confused after Mike died and wasn’t sure what to do next. Finally, he did the only thing he could do. “I will wrestle in my brother’s memory,” he said, and he did.

On May 3, 1987, in Texas Stadium, Kevin defended his World Class title against Nord the Barbarian, a ferocious individual with the ability to overpower any man in the world. Nord had one thing in mind: win the championship and eliminate the Von Erichs from wrestling. Kevin was the Von Erich’s last standing and the memory of David and Mike was in his hands.

That’s a tough position for any human being to be in. It’s the test of a man. The test of a champion.

The day after Mike’s body was found in the town of Lake Lewisville, Kevin stepped into the ring at the Dallas Sportatorium, the Von Erich’s second home, and spoke to the fans. “I’m going to wrestle for Mike,” he said. But later on in the dressing room, he told the press that he would take some time off before returning for the Texas Stadium card.

“I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” said Kevin. “I didn’t have it in me. I was real close to Mike, and after he died I just had to take some time off.” The fact that Kevin felt he had to explain this says a lot about Kevin and the Von Erichs as a whole.
During the nine-day hiatus, Kevin didn’t neglect his training. Knowing all too well the incredible challenge he would encounter at Texas Stadium, Kevin prepared for this match like he never had before. “He felt like he had to do it for Mike,” said a friend of the family. “This was the match that he dedicated to his brother and he wasn’t going to lose.”

Certainly, there were numerous distractions for Kevin. Mike’s funeral was a difficult experience for the entire family. “You can’t understand how my mother felt,” said Kevin. “I mean, she just lost her baby. It’s the third son she lost.” And Kevin, who has become the acknowledged leader of the family, has gone through the loss of two brothers in only three years.

There was the press scrutiny. The questions. “Why did Mike do it?” everybody asked, and Kevin wondered it too. Haunted by the death of his brother, Kevin went on. Wrestling went on. Finally, the day of the Texas Stadium show arrived and Kevin pronounced himself ready.

In just a few years, Nord the Barbarian has developed into one of the most feared men in wrestling. His incredibly powerful body is complemented by a fierce killer instinct. Nord the Barbarian is a man with a purpose: He has never won a major title and he intends to do so.

And when Nord stepped into the ring at Texas Stadium, most of the fans in attendance must have felt that this was his day. After all Kevin is a talented, determined wrestler, but could his mind concentrate on the task at hand? Wasn’t it a virtual certainty that at some crucial point in the match, Kevin would start thinking about Mike? Could Kevin possibly beat a man like Nord under these trying circumstances?

Those questions were never answered. Late in the match, Nord put Kevin in a painful back breaker and Kevin responded with the famed Von Erich iron claw. Both men toppled over the ropes and started fighting outside the ring. The referee counted out both men, but Kevin and Nord continued fighting. Finally, they were separated by the other wrestlers.

Most important, Kevin survived the match with his title intact. He fought the toughest battle of his career, both mentally and physically, and survived a crucial test of his character. “Mike was the reason,” said one wrestler. “He drove him forward and made Kevin want to overcome all of these obstacles. Kevin didn’t do this for himself, he didn’t do it for the belt or for the fans. He did it for Mike.”

The dead don’t die. They look on and help.