Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vern Gagne: Smackdown in the Nursing Home

I'm on Spring Break this week, blogging from "my native village" of Minneapolis, and noticed the front page headline stories today in both the Minneapolis paper and the St. Paul papers, about the local legend Vern Gagne:

St. Paul Pioneer Press: Wrestling legend Verne Gagne, who climbed to fame as a likeable giant of the ring and helped launch Hulk Hogan and former Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura to stardom, is under police investigation in the death of a fellow resident at a Bloomington care facility.

Gagne, 82, threw Helmut R. Gutmann, 97, to the floor Jan. 26, breaking his hip and injuring his head, according to Gutmann's family. Gutmann, an accomplished cancer researcher and violinist who fled Nazi Germany in 1936, was treated for his injuries but later was hospitalized again. He died Saturday.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: If you grew up in Minnesota in the 1950s and '60s, you remember Verne Gagne as the king of old-school professional wrestlers -- burly guys in little shorts and big boots who tossed each other around in the ring and into the turnbuckles.

For decades beginning in the 1940s, Gagne's feats in football and pro wrestling made him seem larger than life.

But now, at 82, with his mind ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, he is the focus of inquiry into an altercation with a fellow resident of a Bloomington health care facility that led to the other man's death.


At 2/21/2009 1:49 PM, Blogger fboness said...

This is a tragedy.

At 2/21/2009 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Champ didn't throw the old fellow down. He body slammed him. Of course, Gagne isn't legally responsible, but he was seen wearing a makeshift belt over his shoulder that had been inscribed with a Sharpie, "Intercontinetal Upper Midwest Nursing Home Heavyweight Champion."

At 2/21/2009 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's wrong...but this really hits my funny bone.

At 2/22/2009 9:04 PM, Blogger BlogDog said...

New champion of the World Wanderingawayfromthehome Federation.

Sorry. Not really funny but at least Gagne will have forgotten it by now.

At 2/23/2009 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simple: Verne thought he was Jr. Soprano. Turn the TV off!

At 3/05/2009 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what is worse to family and society, a body without a mind (like the late Irish Jerry Quarry, Sugar Ray Robinson) or a mind without a body (e.g., the late Sen. Jacob Javitz, Lou Gerhig)?

At 3/28/2009 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Verne should be stripped of his jello priveledges & his belt. The nursing home should hold a tournament to find a new champ. Verne should be ashamed of himself for turning heel.


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