The News Star in Louisiana has reported that football and wrestling star Ernie Ladd died overnight, at the age of 68 and after a long battle with cancer that started in his colon and later traveled to his stomach and bones.
A member of San Diego Chargers of the American Football League (which later merged into the NFL), he was part of the 1963 championship team, one of three championship games in which he appeared, and he was elected to four straight AFL all star games. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers, and is in the AFL Hall of Fame. He left pro football for good in 1969 to become a full-time wrestler, according to WrestlingObserver.com.
Under the name “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd, he had a sucessful career as a pro wrestler, and was part of the WWWF and WWF until 1980, managed by The Grand Wizard. He feuded with Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino and other big names throughout a decades-long career that started out as a publicity stunt in San Diego due to Freddie Blassie wanting a local star to help draw fans. Ladd officially retired from the ring in 1986 and was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995.
Our hearts go out to Ladd’s family at this difficult time.
Some of the biographical information above, as well as the photo, are from Wikipedia. SLAM! Wrestling has also posted an obituary here.