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Darren Drozdov, a Former Professional Wrestler, Dies at 54

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Darren Drozdov, a former N.F.L. soccer participant who pursued a profession in professional wrestling that was lower quick after an accident within the ring that paralyzed him, died on Friday. He was 54.

His dying, at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Heart in Pomona, N.J., was confirmed by his sister, Rommi Drozdov, and his agent and longtime pal, Cliff Stein. A explanation for dying was not instantly clear.

Earlier than Mr. Drozdov made his mark within the wrestling world, he first got here to the general public’s consideration as an N.FL. participant after he vomited on a soccer at a Monday evening recreation, Mr. Stein mentioned. Some experiences point out that he puked more than once.

Mr. Drozdov grew up in Mays Touchdown, N.J., the place he spent most of his grownup life. He attended the College of Maryland, the place he performed soccer, and graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s diploma in legal justice.

After commencement, he was signed as an undrafted rookie for the Denver Broncos. Mr. Drozdov, who was 6 toes 3 inches tall and weighed 280 kilos when he performed soccer, additionally had stints with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles.

Whereas he was taking part in for the Montreal Alouettes, an expert Canadian soccer workforce, he began to consider a profession in professional wrestling, Mr. Stein mentioned. It was one thing that had at all times been behind his thoughts.

“His character was so colourful, and the mohawks and the tattoos and the way in which he talked, everybody would say, ‘You’re a wrestler,’” Mr. Stein recalled. “He would name you ‘brother.’ He’d decide you up. His presence was so huge.”

Mr. Drozdov, who was generally known as Droz and Puke, was ultimately accepted to a WWE coaching program. After that, he was put into extra matches. He turned a member of the Highway Warriors, a preferred tag workforce, and have become recognized for his “Droz’s World” vignettes, the WWE mentioned.

Early in his profession, he was in a WWE coaching program with different notable wrestlers like Matt Bloom, generally known as Prince Albert, and Dwayne Johnson, the actor generally known as the Rock, who mourned Mr. Drozdov’s dying on Twitter.

“We wrestled on numerous playing cards collectively,” Mr. Johnson wrote. “Such an superior dude. Nice character and nice wrestling expertise. We at all times talked about soccer and fishing. Sending love, energy, mana and light-weight to his household. RIP brother.”

Throughout a 1999 wrestling match on the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Mr. Drozdov sustained an harm that rendered him quadriplegic, bringing his wrestling profession to an finish.

He fractured two discs in his neck in a stunt gone incorrect after he was thrown to the mat by his opponent, D’Lo Brown, and landed on his head as a substitute of his again.

Mr. Drozdov was born in Wilmington, Del., on April 7, 1969, the son of Olaf and Cyndi Drozdov. His mom labored in actual property and owned three laundromats, and his father was a professor at Atlantic Cape Neighborhood Faculty in New Jersey.

Survivors embrace Mr. Drozdov’s mother and father and his sister. A wedding in 1999 led to divorce in 2001.

Mr. Drozdov’s sister helped take care of him after he was injured. He spent a lot of his time cheering on her 4 kids, she mentioned.

“He cherished watching them develop up,” Ms. Drozdov mentioned. “He would go to all of the soccer video games, soccer, tennis, all the things. You would at all times discover him on a sideline that my youngsters are on.”

He additionally continued to hunt, considered one of many out of doors sports activities he loved.

Kevin Plank, Mr. Drozdov’s pal and the founding father of the sportswear firm Below Armour, facilitated the design of a wheelchair that was basically a “tank with wheels,” permitting Mr. Drozdov to maneuver by means of the woods, Mr. Stein mentioned.

Mr. Drozdov’s members of the family described him as being relentlessly optimistic within the aftermath of the wrestling accident.

In a statement, they cited his personal phrases.

“There may be at all times one other day,” he mentioned. “Simply because I’m paralyzed and caught in a wheelchair doesn’t imply my life is over. I’ve discovered to reside once more, and my life is much from over.”



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