Wrestling With Demons

February 2, 2009

Until seeing Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler last week, I thought only Daniel Day-Lewis could so completely inhabit a movie character. Or Robert DeNiro when he did serious roles.

Battling frailties and demons galore, Rourke’s character makes one ponder the fates of wrestlers once age and countless poundings have taken a despairing toll.

He left me wondering about the wrestling star I watched as a kid in the early 1960s — before realizing the bouts were stage managed. Sprawled on the living room floor on Saturday afternoons, I marveled at the exploits of Eddie Graham, king of professional wrestling in Florida. Graham was always cast as the good guy.

Tonight I checked on whatever happened to Graham. His demons caught up with him in 1985. On camera and off, Rourke appears to have wrestled his down for the count.