SLOAN: There’s only one ‘Nature Boy’ - Wooooo!
He needs no introduction because I know you know who I’m talking about.
“It's so hard for me to sit back here, in this studio, looking at a guy out there hollering my name when last year I spent more money on spilt liquor in bars from one side of this world to the other, than you made. You're talking to the Rolex-wearing, diamond ring-wearing, kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son of a gun. And I’m having a hard time holding these alligators down.”
He turned 73 in February, but he’s still styling and profiling.
Born Richard Morgan Fliehr, the world will forever know him as Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair.
“The Nature Boy” has slowed down very little. He still makes occasional appearances and has a highly popular, larger-than-life presence on social media. This should not come as a surprise, because there will never, ever be another “Slick Ric.
” I was introduced to professional wrestling at an early age. I would play with my G.I. Joe with Kung-Fu Grip while sitting beside my great-grandma’s rocking chair as she sat and cheered on the likes of Gorgeous George, Haystacks Calhoun, Gorilla Monsoon, and Killer Kowalski in the pre-Vince McMahon World Wide Wrestling Federation. I was soon hooked, just like millions of others. I’m still trying to figure out why so many people are drawn to pro wrestling. What is it about watching a bunch of hairy, sweaty, smack-talking, grown men wearing teeny-weenie, tight-fitting Speedo-like briefs standing in the middle of a ring and beating the snot out of one another that somehow captures the attention? You know it’s all put-on, but you simply don’t care. That my friends, is the great mystery of professional wrestling.
Much of my pre-teen and early teenage years were spent in front of the television watching Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Some of the big stars at that time were Chief Wahoo McDaniels, Dino Bravo, Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones, Ivan Koloff, The Junkyard Dog, Johnny Valentine, and Black Jack Mulligan. It was Must-See TV.
And then along came this young, brash wrestler with bleach-blonde hair, sunglasses, colored boas, and bedazzled robes.
He was simply known as Ric Flair back then, but it wasn’t long before the world was introduced to “The Nature Boy.” If memory serves, he arrived as part of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with brothers Gene and Ole Anderson. The three of them would join with Tully Blanchard to form the original Four Horseman.
Over the next three decades, “The Nature Boy” ruled the ring. Nobody, I mean nobody could promote an upcoming bout like the 16-time world champ. He would show up with the belt around his waist or draped over his shoulder. He possessed a swag that said “Everybody step aside.” To say he had a big ego would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a big hole in the ground.
He would steal the show by describing just how good it was to be “The Nature Boy.” He came up with one-liners that will live forever. Among them: _ “
But the bottom line is, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” _ “
You gotta walk that aisle and step into the squared circle.” _
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re Ric Flair.” _
“Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because its the best thing going today.” _
“I’m every woman’s dream and every man’s nightmare.” _ “All the women want to be with me, all the men want to be like me!” _
”Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair.
” Each of these lines, as legendary as they are, was punctuated with Flair’s signature “Wooooo!”
Ric Flair was “The Man” back then. To some degree, he still is.
About five years ago media reports surfaced that Flair had been admitted to a Charlotte, N.C. hospital after suffering kidney and heart failure. The world prepared itself for the grim news of his death, but as he had so many other times when he was about to go down for the count, “The Nature Boy” came back to life. It was as if he’d looked the grim reaper right in the eye and said, “Not so fast. The champ’s not going down that easy, brother.”
“Slick Ric” has since fully recovered and is still living in Charlotte when he’s not traveling the world in his private yet. He’s still signing autographs and taking pictures with fans of all ages, striking terror into men and stealing kisses from all the pretty ladies.
Others may think about retiring when they get to be his age, but Flair still can’t keep those alligators down.
I said it before and I’ll say it again – There’s only one “Nature” Boy,” and you can take that to the bank, brother! Wooooo!
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florence newsjournal.com.