The youth culture web site Complex.com has named its “definitive list” of the greatest athletes of all time and there’s a timely inclusion of ailing Ric Flair as the greatest professional wrestler.
Flair, a former Charlottean, has been hospitalized in Atlanta the past month for an undisclosed illness. Family members say he is improving, but WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “the King” Lawler noted Wednesday that Flair had less than a 20-percent chance of survival after his initial surgery.
Never one to be shy, 68-year-old Flair tweeted out news that he had made the Complex list, which also included Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player.
“Today, we end all debates,” according to Complex.com. “Surveying eight major sports, we crowned the Greatest Of All Time to put to rest any and all bar arguments or Twitter beefs about who is the best to ever do it in basketball, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, boxing, wrestling and MMA.”
The article goes on to say Flair did more than just win 16 world titles: He help reshape a sport many people didn’t take seriously.
“Flair was one of the last champions who actually helped create talent by traveling to other territories in the country and challenging their best competitor; by the time he left, that person looked like a million bucks, even if they weren’t worth $0.99,” the website states.
“Flair made the championships matter, while exuding an expensive cool that set the standard for how a champion should dress, speak and carry themselves. He was a god among men, and his influence has not only touched the world of pro wrestling, but hip-hop, basketball and how you should stroll into meetings when you’re trying to get (things) done.”
Runner-ups in the competition: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and The Undertaker.
Global Grind made a lot of the same points in an article that tried to explain Flair’s resurgence in popularity among young people, particularly those influenced by the country’s hip hop culture.
“ Ric Flair is undoubtedly one of the most influential wrestlers in pro wrestling history, and his esteem alone has influenced generations far beyond his “Wooing” banter,” said Global Grind write Brittany Lewis.
“Known for his grandiose declarations and showmanship, Richard Fliehr (birth name), and the essence of his “Ric Flair” ringside character, oddly shares a duality with some of hip-hop’s greatest emcees. We’re referring to the man who once stated, “I spent more money, on spilled liquor, in bars from one side of this world to the other, than you made!”