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British wrestling legend Adrian Street succumbs to sepsis aged 82

Welsh wrestling legend, Adrian Street, poses next to his father at Blaina Colliery where his father worked. — Twitter/@LeanneCulv

The wrestling community mourns the death of Welsh wrestling legend Adrian Street, known for his no-holds-barred fighting style, who passed away on Monday at the age of 82 from sepsis, his family announced.

Street passed away at the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran after recently undergoing brain surgery.

Although he had been diagnosed with and beaten cancer in 2001, Street’s doctor had initially told him to prepare for the worst, but his wife Linda, 77, had said that this most recent struggle would eventually be “too much for him”.

“He’d had a heart problem a while ago which was resolved,” she said. “But then he had a stroke earlier this month which resulted in a bleed on the brain.

“He was recovering from that at home when he developed colitis — a chronic inflammatory bowel disease — which later turned into sepsis. That’s what killed him. It all came about so quick. I’ve still not come to terms with it yet,” she said.

On Sunday, she paid tribute to her husband, who was also the grandfather-of-five, calling him, “the kindest, most lovely and loving man I’ve ever known. The total opposite to how he behaved on stage,” the BBC reported.

Linda continued by saying that she intended to cremate Street and disperse his ashes among the mountains close to their house in Cwmbran.

“He loved the outdoors and we’d go on long walks in the countryside all the time. He’d really be at peace up there,” she said.

Street, who was born in Blaenau Gwent, became a renowned wrestling figure in the ’70s and ’80s for his unconventional appearance and fighting style after refusing to follow in his father’s footsteps and ending up with a career working in mines.

“Too dark down there, I was born for the spotlight,” he confessed in an interview.

In his mid-teens, Street ran away to London and signed with a wrestling promoter, who named him Kid Tarzan Jonathan. He later used his own name and flamboyant costume, including a feather boa, dayglo face paint, and peroxide pigtails, to attract the audience.

However, he was met with cat-calls and jeers, leading to his over-the-top behaviour, including skipping around the ring and kissing opponents’ foreheads.

In 1971, he defeated Jimmy Savile, a controversial DJ and TV presenter, who was once considered tough during his wrestling career.

“Back in those days the promoters were trying to get proper wrestlers to throw their matches with him – it was all part of some big stupid gimmick,” said Street in 2013.

Welshman dropped Savile on the head, tearing out a large chunk of his hair.

In the 1980s, Street gained fame in Canada and the US, establishing The Bizarre Bazaar and Skull Krushers Academy.

In 2019, he returned to Wales and premiered a biopic, You May Be Pretty, But Am Beautiful, showcasing his transformation from a “man in tights” to a cultural icon. Street also recorded songs and wrote autobiographies, including The Merchant of Menace.

In 1980s, Street moved to Canada and the US and gained fame winning championship belts. He and his wife and manager Linda established The Bizarre Bazaar, a costume-making business, and Skull Krushers Academy, a wrestling school.

In 2019, Street returned to Wales and a biopic, You May Be Pretty, But Am Beautiful, premiered in Brynmawr which portrayed Street’s transformation from a “man in tights” to a cultural icon, influencing the arrival of glam rock in the UK.

Street also recorded songs and wrote numerous autobiographies, including The Merchant of Menace.

In 1973, Dennis Hutchinson’s photo of Street and his father, dressed in wrestling garb, was deemed “the most important post-war picture ever taken” by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and symbolised the UK’s transition from heavy industry to the entertainment age.

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