Who was Chris Kanyon?
Chris Kanyon was one of the ring names of American professional wrestler Christopher Morgan Klucsarits, also known as Kanyon and Mortis, who appeared with the professional wrestling promotions World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) for about a decade. Interested in wrestling from an early age, he followed the sports periodical, 'The National Sports Daily', and obtained a degree in physical therapy to open up opportunities in the wrestling scene. He won the 'WCW World Tag Team Championship' two times with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow, and also won the 'WWF Tag Team Championship' once with Page. He held the 'WCW United States Championship' once and was named to the 'Victory Championship Wrestling Hall of Fame'. He suffered from depression due to anxiety over his sexuality and committed suicide on April 2, 2010.
Childhood & Early Life
Chris Kanyon was born on January 4, 1970, in Sunnyside, Queens, New York City, United States, to parents of varying Russian descents. He played roller hockey, basketball, and baseball while attending Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, New York City, from where he graduated in 1988.
He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Buffalo in 1992. In university, he played rugby for the Mad Turtles, the University of Buffalo Rugby Football Club.
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Chris Kanyon became interested in WWF in his youth after watching wrestlers like Superfly Jimmy Snuka, and did a major in physiotherapy primarily to get close to pro wrestling. He decided to become a pro-wrestler after attending the National Wrestling Alliance title match between defending champion Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat in suburban New Jersey.
He came to Pete McKay's Gladiator Gym in Manhattan looking for an opportunity to secure a wrestling ring, following which, intrigued by his childlike enthusiasm, McKay offered to train him for free. He also trained with Ismael Gerena and Bobby Bold Eagle at the Lower East Side Wrestling Gym before fighting in his first match on April 5, 1992, in Levittown, New York, as 'Chris Morgan'.
After graduating from college, he took a day job as a physical therapist in North Carolina, which had a vibrant independent wrestling scene, and wrestled on weekends and in the evenings as Chris Kanyon. In 1994, he began working as a jobber for the World Wrestling Federation, opposite wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Tatanka and Bob Holly, and impressed James Mitchell, who became a friend and his future manager.
Mitchell sent him to train with The Fabulous Moolah in South Carolina and Afa at Wild Samoan wrestling School. In 1995, he left his physical therapist job to become a fulltime wrestler, and subsequently formed the 'hockey players' tag team with Billy Kidman.
Chris Kanyon joined the WCW as a jobber in 1995 and was placed in the tag team 'Men at Work' with Mark Starr, pretending to be construction workers who became wrestlers. However, he was soon removed from the team in favor of Mike Winner and then the team was disbanded altogether.
He resurfaced in 1997 in the masked persona of 'Mortis' (death in Latin), and began a feud with Glacier, but lost to him twice at Uncensored in March and at Slamboree in May. He next teamed up with Wrath to successfully defeat Glacier and Ernest Miller at Bash at the Beach on July 13, following which they continued to fight together until early 1998.
On February 12, 1998, he made a failed attempt at defeating Diamond Dallas Page at the 'United States Heavyweight Championship' in order to join Raven's stable 'The Flock', which started a feud with Raven. He ditched the persona to fight as Kanyon and teamed with Perry Saturn, but eventually joined Raven by turning against Saturn, who finally defeated Raven at Fall Brawl and caused 'The Flock' to disband.
Taking a hiatus from wrestling, he worked in the stunt department of 'The Jesse Ventura Story' before returning to the ring to help Raven and Saturn win the 'World Tag Team Championship' in 1999. He subsequently formed 'The Triad' stable with Bam Bam Bigelow and Diamond Dallas Page and defeated Saturn and Chris Benoit at the 'Tag Team Championship' in the Baltimore Arena at The Great American Bash in June.
After being denied the opportunity to fight as a three-man team, Kanyon and Bigelow failed to defend their title from Harlem Heat at Road Wild on August 14, 1999. The group disbanded after Kanyon took another hiatus to work on the film 'Ready to Rumble'.
Following a brief appearance on WCW in the Chris 'Champagne' Kanyon persona, he returned again in April 2000 to save Page at Slamboree, following which Mike Awesome threw Kanyon off the Triple Cage. He then feuded with Page by siding with the New Blood faction, and donned the new 'Positively Kanyon' persona mimicking Page.
His aggressiveness backstage caused a feud with the Bagwell family, which ended in Buff Bagwell defeating him at New Blood Rising, after which Kanyon took another break. On his return, he defeated Page at SuperBrawl Revenge on February 18, 2001, but in turn lost to him the next night on 'Nitro'.
After the WWF bought WCW, he 'invaded' WWF as part of 'The Alliance' on 'SmackDown!' in July 2001 and subsequently defeated The Big Show, Billy Gunn and Albert with Shawn Stasiak and Hugh Morrus. He received Booker T's 'WCW United States Championship' title at Stephanie McMahon's request in July, and teamed with Diamond Dallas Page to defeat the Acolytes Protection Agency for the 'WWF Tag Team Championships' in August.
They lost the title to 'The Brothers of Destruction' (Kane and The Undertaker) later that month and he lost his US Championship to Tajiri in September 2001. Following back-to-back injuries against Randy Orton and Lance Cade, he returned to the main roster dressed as Boy George, siding with Big Show against The Undertaker, in February 2003.
Kanyon, who was not used in the major storylines for a year, was officially released on February 9, 2004, and announced his retirement on August 28, 2004. He made a comeback in July 2005 and appeared in several benefit shows to support Hurricane Katrina victims before finally retiring on April 5, 2007.
Family & Personal Life
Chris Kanyon was only six-seven when he was infatuated with a male friend of his older brother and 11 when he realized his disinterest in girls, but decided to hide his sexuality. He finally came out to his family following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which shook him deeply.
He revealed on 'Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling' in 2007 that he had attempted suicide on September 14, 2003, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during subsequent treatment. He was found dead in his Sunnyside, Queens, New York, apartment on April 2, 2010, with a note apologizing to his family for taking his life.
After his release from the WWE, Chris Kanyon initially claimed that he was fired because of his sexuality, but soon dismissed it as a publicity stunt, before finally admitting that he was gay. The details of his struggles were revealed in the 2011 book 'Wrestling Reality', which he was working on with Ryan Clark before his death.