Buddy Landel, the former pro-wrestler known as “Nature Boy,” died on Monday at his home following a car wreck the previous day. He was 53.
Although the exact details of Landel’s death have not yet been made clear, Donna, his wife of 34 years, found him dead in their home the day after he left the hospital against medical advice, according to The Inquisitr.
Landel, born as William Ansor, shot to fame as a bleach-blond-haired wrestler in the 1980s and '90s after he signed on with the National Wrestling Alliance’s (NWA) Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 and won the NWA National Championship that same year, according to a statement issued by the WWE upon his death.
Landel’s lucrative career was cut short by his pervasive struggles with drug abuse, partying, and addictions. In a lengthy interview with The Post and Courier in 2011, Landel spoke
candidly about his lifelong regret of showing up late to filming for a major promotional video for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 after a night of partying and drugs, which resulted in him getting fired on the spot at age 23 at the peak of his wrestling career.
“They had put the whole weight of the world on my shoulders,” Landel told The Post and Courier. “I was breaking Elvis’ attendance record, selling out with the world champion every night, doing 60-minute Broadways . . . I was 23, cocky, and had a hundred grand in the bank. I didn’t see that I had any problems.”
Although Landel experienced some subsequent victories and comebacks in wrestling over the years, he celebrated his most important victory when he finally came clean from drugs and rebuilt his life.
“I’ve been working on my life for some time now,” Landel said in The Post and Courier interview. “My wife and I have been married for 30 years, and brother, when you break something and really break the hell out of it like I did, it takes years to redeem the times you messed up.”
In his later years, Landel acted as a reserve police officer since 1998 and became an accomplished musician and member of the Masonic Lodge. He is survived by his wife, Donna, his two daughters, and his grandson.
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