Dick Slater Death – Unknown Causes
1951-2018 (Age 67)
Long before there was “The Lunatic Fringe,” there was “Dirty” Dick Slater, a roughhouse redneck who brawled in and out of the ring; proving he didn’t live his gimmick – he was his gimmick.
Slater established himself as one of the baddest men in wrestling during his heyday in the territories in the 1970s and 1980s, eventually retiring due to a back injury in 1996. However, Slater’s wild ways continued long after he left the ring, with some surprised he made it to the age of 67.
A Common Beginning for an Uncommon Man
Florida native Richard Van Slater showed his toughness wrestling and playing football at the University of Tampa, playing alongside future grappling great Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff. Recruited by wrestler Mike Graham, Slater (like many athletes) heard the siren call of quick cash and entered the squared circle. Before he knew it, he was teaming with stars such as Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Dick Murdoch, Jimmy Golden, and Greg Valentine working in promotions such as Championship Wrestling from Florida, Jim Crockett Promotions, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and Mid-South Wrestling.
Dick Slater continued working as territories went national, campaigning briefly in the WWF as “The Rebel” and on multiple occasions in Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) and WCW.
A Different Age
Professional wrestling has always lived in its own world and Dick Slater worked at a time when public sensibilities were much different than now. Proud to be a Southerner, Slater used his Southern heritage as part of his gimmick, including the Confederate flag. A talented worker, he proved equally talented at brawling as well as technical wrestling.
Slater was involved in many high-profile angles, including one in JCP where he collected NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race’s bounty on challenger “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Slater would team with “Cowboy” Bob Orton to kayfabe break “Slick” Ric’s neck with a devastating spike piledriver, just one of many heinous acts on Slater’s resume as a heel.
“Dirty Dick’s” life included some bizarre wrestling-related incidents. Slater was accidentally shot by colleague Wahoo McDaniel after the Native American legend pistol-whipped a fan who’d drawn a knife on wrestler Tommy Rich. Unfortunately for Slater, McDaniel’s gun accidentally discharged, hitting Slater.
Dick Slater was also known for his brutality outside the ring. According to one account, Slater was working with Sting in Bill Watt’s Mid-South Wrestling when he punched out a young Sting, dunking Sting’s head into a toilet for Sting’s alleged alliance with Dark Journey. Unfortunately, this would pale in comparison to Slater’s most notorious incident out of the ring.
In December 2003, Slater was accused of stabbing his girlfriend Theresa Halbert with a butcher’s knife. Slater was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to one year of house arrest, two years’ probation, ordered to stay away from Halbert, and assessed with $18,000 in restitution.
Dick Slater Death
Despite a wild life, Dick Slater lived to the age of 67, passing away on October 18, 2018. Health problems plagued Slater during the later years of his life and he was confined to a wheelchair. Nonetheless, he didn’t regret his wrestling career, often speaking fondly of his time in the ring. Slater had several brothers and sisters and one daughter.
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