Pro wrestling icon Ric Flair is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time in the sport with a decorated career that spanned generations. In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Flair detailed his experience of surviving a deadly plane crash that nearly ended his run in pro wrestling to Joe Rogan.
Ric Flair grew up with a passion for athletics and competed in a range of sports as a teenager. He chose to focus on wrestling after making a name for himself on the amateur circuit. In 1972, Flair made his debut under the American Wrestling Association (AWA) banner, where he went up against the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant. Then, he moved to the National Wrestling Allegiance (NWA) and became a titleholder. However, his wrestling career was at risk of collapsing after he got involved in a serious plane crash in 1975.
While he was told he would not be able to wrestle again, Flair managed to recover and got back in the ring in the first quarter of 1976. His star power skyrocketed over the next decade after he adopted the monk of ‘The Nature Boy.’ He ruled the heavyweight class of the NWA and established himself as the main draw of the organization, headlining the most prestigious annual card ten times.
Flair joined the roster of the WWF/WWE in 1991 and instantly became a popular star with his antics and charismatic persona. He turned in some of the most memorable performances in the company’s history, facing The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and other fellow standouts.
In Jun. 2017, Flair endured a ghastly hand injury stemming from a suspected physical altercation with a Warriors fan. He hinted at the incident while defending his favorite team, Cleveland Cavaliers. He needed to undergo surgery for a health scare related to alcohol abuse a few months later. The news of his hospitalization drew messages of support from the community. Fortunately, he recovers and gave up drinking after the close call.
’The Nature Boy’ made headlines after being rushed to the hospital for health concerns in May 2019. His son-in-law Conrad Thompson later clarified the incident was not serious. Following heart surgery, Flair returned to social media to express gratitude for the support he received.
Ric Flair details surviving a deadly plane crash to Joe Rogan
In a recent YouTube video, Ric Flair opened up about his experience of surviving a horrific plane crash to Joe Rogan.
“We were going from Charlotte to Wilmington, North Carolina for outdoors show,” said Flair. “What happened ultimately is he took five of us on the plane and we didn’t know at the time he was carrying no fuel because we were 1400 pounds over gross. So, we get there and hit a little bit of a headwind or between seven to eight thousand, it’s not a pressurized plane so that’s not 310.
“He did what’s called past the point of no return. He should have landed in Raleigh and refilled but he’s looking and say it’s 100 miles. So unbeknownst to us the guy in front of me, Johnny Valentine, who got paralyzed kept looking at the gas gauge and looking back at me. I thought Johnny had that dry sense of humor.
“We’re flying along all of a sudden the right engine goes *boop boop* maybe like six times over and then bingo pinned. I went sh*t. He reaches down, pulls up the reserve, natural reaction there is no reserve gas, left engine went *boop* and boom *plane goes down*. Instead of flying into the Orchard trees, going to cartwheel a small aircraft, we were going so fast down anddd landed in a railroad makement stuck at the ground at 230 miles an hour. So we were probably going well over 300 and we were literally 200 yards from the runway.”
Flair shared the deadly aftermath of the crash that nearly ended his wrestling ambitions. Despite being told he’d never be able to wrestle again, Flair returned to action in six months.
“They tried,” he continued. “He died and never regained consciousness.”
“I broke my back in three places; T10, 11, and 12. Compression fracture. I used to be at 6’2”. No surgery at all. They just didn’t think I’d ever wrestle again. I was like what am I going to do, right. It was the October of 75 and I was back in the ring in March of 76. I went from 255 to 180 back to 218.
“But I never got myself to land flat on my back again ever. Everybody knows I land on my hip and my side. Just couldn’t get myself to land flat.”
Ric Flair motivated his followers with an intense workout video last June. The 73-year-old looked in impressive shape as he crushed the training routines in prep for his initially planned final outing.
Flair had an undeniable impact on the game. While he is past his best days of pro wrestling, it’s hard to imagine what the sport would have looked like had he not been able to continue due to the accident.