|Birth name||Edward F. Gossett|
|Born||January 15, 1930|
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||January 21, 1985 (aged 55)|
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Multiple gunshot suicide|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Eddie Gossett|
|Billed height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Billed weight||215 lb (98 kg)|
|Trained by||Cowboy Luttrell|
Edward F. Gossett (January 15, 1930 – January 21, 1985), better known as Eddie Graham, was an American professional wrestler. He was also the promoter and booker for Championship Wrestling from Florida and President of the NWA in the 1970s.
Edward Gossett was born on January 15, 1930, in Dayton, Tennessee, blind in one eye. He lived in a troubled household and sold newspapers and eggs to make a living while in Chattanooga at the age of 12. The newspaper provided YMCA gym memberships to newsboys, allowing him to receive physical training.
Gossett started wrestling in 1947 in Texas at the age of 17 after being trained by Clarence "Cowboy" Luttrall. He was occasionally billed as the brother of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers under the name of Rip Rogers. He lost a loser-leaves-town match to Pepper Gomez in May 1958 in Texas.
In June 1958, he changed his ring name, adopting the persona of Eddie Graham, who was billed as the "brother" of Dr. Jerry Graham and "Crazy" Luke Graham (Superstar Billy Graham would later join the group of brothers). Jerry and Eddie were a very successful villainous tag team on the east coast of the United States. They had popular feuds with teams such as the Fabulous Kangaroos, the Bastien Brothers, Mark Lewin and Don Curtis, and Antonino Rocca and Miguel Pérez. They held the NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Northeast version) together in Capitol Wrestling (the forerunner of World Wrestling Entertainment) four times, winning the belts three times in victories over Lewin and Curtis, and once against Red and Lou Bastien.
In the spring of 1960, Eddie left the team and went to the National Wrestling Alliance's territory in Florida to wrestle. While there, in 1966, he had a feud with Professor Boris Malenko. Eddie took over booking and promoting for Championship Wrestling from Florida in 1971. He wrestled in tag team matches with his son, Mike Graham, until 1977, when he retired from the ring due to health problems. Graham returned to the ring a year later. In 1979, he defeated Killer Khan by pinfall after the referee was knocked out and subsequent interference by Mr. Hito and Kazuo Sakurada on Khan's behalf was fought off by his son Mike and Ray Stevens. Graham's last recorded match was against Terry Funk on March 3, 1982, which was ruled a draw.
He was the President of the NWA from 1976 to 1978, thanks in part to Gordon Solie and Dusty Rhodes. Graham was absent as NWA President in 1977 and 1978 due to serious health problems he suffered from, and was forced to step down as a result.
In 1968, Graham was lacing his boots in the locker room when a 75-lb steel window fell on his head, detaching both of his retinas and causing him an injury that required three hundred stitches. The Florida Legislature awarded him $23,000 for the incident. According to Jim Wilson in his book Chokehold, Graham's eyesight was poor because of blade jobs, and because he needed surgery to correct the problem and could not afford the money, he had some wrestlers tamper with the window in order to pass it off as though it was the responsibility of the building. This allegation is disputed by eyewitnesses. Also, "blading" does not cause eye damage according to noted optometrist Dr. Robert W. McCullough and other eye doctors. Due to the injury, Graham was unable to wrestle for fifteen months.
Graham made contributions to a number of charitable causes, as chief of the Florida Boys and Girls Ranch Villa. In 1957, Graham, C.P. “Cowboy” Luttrall, and Hillsborough Sheriff Ed Blackburn began efforts to establish the organization. Graham donated funds from every Championship Wrestling from Florida show to the Villa, bringing in a reported $100,000, also donating to high school and college level amateur wrestling events.
Graham remained as the promoter in Florida until January 21, 1985, when he committed suicide by gunshot after a lifelong battle with alcoholism and depression. It is believed that Graham’s participation in a land deal gone wrong led to him needing to raise over $500,000, including financial and marriage problems contributed to his death. His son Mike and grandson Stephen committed suicide in similar manners on October 19, 2012, and December 14, 2010, respectively.
He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 29, 2008 by Dusty Rhodes, while his son, Mike Graham, accepted the honor on behalf of his father.
((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)