On 16 May 2019, the entertainment website TMZ reported that former WWE wrestler Ric Flair (real name Richard Fliehr) was rushed to the hospital for a medical emergency.
As Flair’s fans fretted over the news, a few opportunists started to spread false rumors about “Nature Boy’s” condition.
The official-looking Twitter account @WWEUmiverse, for example, posted an image of Flair and asserted that the wrestler had passed away. This account used a handle resembling the WWE’s actual account (at @WWEUniverse) in order to fool viewers with hoax stories. The fake account misspelled “Universe” with an “m”:
The disreputable website LFRSolutions also posted a fake news story about the wrestler’s health. Shortly after Flair was hospitalized, the website published a story claiming that Flair had been declared brain dead:
WWE Ric Flair has been declared brain dead after a medical emergency led him to being hospitalized earlier today.
According to several news reports, it’s unclear what medical emergency led him to the hospital to begin with but sources have now said that the wrestling legend’s is no longer functioning although his other organs are still working at this time.
Ric Flair is still on a breathing machine until his family gives permission to disconnect him but as of now, he is declared brain dead, thus legally dead.
However, “Ric’s surgery has been postponed until Monday to address some [c]omplications that needed to be taken care of first,” Wendy Barlow, who wed Flair last year, wrote on Instagram Friday afternoon.
Famously known in the ring as “Nature Boy,” Flair, 70, wrestled for four decades during stints in WCW and WWE.
At the time, Flair’s family members were told he had only a 20 percent chance of surviving, and he was placed in a medically induced coma while they — including daughter Charlotte Flair was in tears— took to social media to asks fans for prayers.
She added: “Thanks for all the well wishes.” She did not specify the nature of the surgery and Flair’s condition is the hospital is unclear. A source told the wrestling news website Pro Westling Sheet that Flair was hospitalized in connection with recent heart issues.
Ric “Nature Boy,” Flair has experienced a number of health issues in recent years, including an emergency in August 2017 when it was revealed he was in the early stages of kidney failure and on the verge of congestive heart failure — the result of years of alcohol abuse.
Ric Flair’s wife, Wendy Barlow, told TMZ that the wrestler was expected to make a full recovery after the surgery.
After news broke over Ric Flair’s hospitalization, those in the wrestling community sent well-wishes to Flair through social media.