Childhood & Early Life
Kerry Gene Adkisson was born on February 3, 1960, in Niagara Falls, New York, to Jack Barton Adkisson Sr. (aka Fritz Von Erich) and Doris J. Smith. His father was a professional wrestler known by the name ‘Fritz Von Erich,’ the patriarch of the Von Erich wrestling family. Kerry had 5 brothers - the eldest, Jack, died of electrocution at 6. His other brothers, David, Kevin, Mike and Chris, were also wrestlers.
During his high school years, Kerry excelled at the track and field events. He was an exceptionally skilled discus thrower at the University of Houston, and was SWC discus record holder. (He broke his father’s ‘Junior World Discus Throw record.’). Unfortunately, the US President announced boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games, thus he turned towards wrestling.
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Kerry made his professional wrestling debut on May 7, 1979, in his father’s promotion, ‘NWA Texas’ or ‘Big Time Wrestling,’ which later was named as ‘World Class Championship Wrestling WCCW.’ He wrestled for 11 years with WCCW, won a number of ‘Texas Tag Team’ titles and ‘American Tag Team’ titles and came to be known as ‘The Modern Day Warrior.’
During initial years, Kerry worked as a single wrestler. In 1982 he started wresting as a team with his brother Kevin. Before partenering with Kevin, he had teamed up with Terry Orndorff to defeat ‘The Great Kabuki’ and ‘Chan Chung’ and won the ‘NWA American Tag Team Championship’ in 1981. In some of the Feud matches, the three Von Erich brothers, Kevin, David and Kerry, teamed up against opponents like ‘The Fabulous Freebirds’ (1983-1984). For the major part of his career, he wrestled in feuds mainly against Gino Hernandez, Iceman Parsons, Chris Adams, The Fabulous Freebirds and Ric Flair.
On May 6, 1984, Kerry won the ‘NWA World Heavyweight Championship’ at Texas Stadium, by defeating Nature Boy Ric Flair. Thus he became the most successful of the Von Erich family. The event, ‘The David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions,’ was held as a tribute to Kerry’s brother David, who had died of intestinal infection in Japan 3 months earlier. So the win was Kerry’s homage to his brother. However, Flair won the belt back in 18 days at Japan.
In 1983, Kerry also wrestled for the ‘St. Louis Wrestling Club.’ In 1988, he won the ‘WCCW Heavyweight Championship’ belt four times in the same year. During 1989-1990, he wrestled for the ‘United States Wrestling Association USWA’ and appeared in matches at Dallas Sportatorium. He then left USWA and signed contract with the WWF in June 1990.
In WWF, Kerry appeared under the ring name ‘Texas Tornado.’ When he joined WWF, he arrived on the TV in a big way by defeating Buddy Rose, and continued to be successful. In 1990 he won the title ‘Intercontinental Champion’ by defeating Mr. Perfect at the SummerSlam. He defended his title for 3 months.
In 1992, Kerry was back in Texas, where he won the ‘USWF Texas Heavyweight Championship.’ In Dallas, he joined the ‘Global Wrestling Federation GWF’ where he wrestled till the end.
Kerry won a number of wrestling titles, including NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship, World Class heavyweight titles-3; World Class Tag Team titles-4; NWA Tag Team titles-3; NWA American Tag Team titles-6, NWA Six-man Tag Team titles-8; among others.
A serious motorcycle accident on June 4, 1986, left Kerry with a dislocated hip and a fractured leg and ankle. His brother reported that after surgery, Kerry tried to walk and he used the leg before it could heal completely. As a result, there was no other option but to amputate it. He used prosthesis and returned to wrestling, hiding the fact about amputation or prosthetic foot. However, during an ‘AWA’ match in Las Vegas, his opponent, Col. DeBeers, inadvertently pulled Kerry’s boot and it came off along with the prosthetic foot.
During the recovery (from surgery), Kerry got addicted to painkillers which led to drug addiction. Earlier in 1983, he was arrested at Dallas airport for possession of drugs. Later, the charges were dropped. It is suspected that probably drugs were the cause of his motorcycle accident.
In February 1992, Kerry was arrested under charge of forging prescription to get drugs. He was given 10 years’ probation with $6,000 fine. After his arrest and subsequent probation, the WWF released him from the organization. He entered rehab and tried to bring life back on tracks. But during the probation period, on February 17, 1993, he was again arrested for possession of cocaine.
It was most likely that after this second arrest he would be sentenced to a prison term for violation of probation. On February 18, 1993, Kerry shot himself through heart with a .44 caliber pistol on his father’s ranch in Denton County, Texas.The Von Erich family, Fritz, Kevin, David, Kerry, Mike and Chris, were inducted into the ‘2009 class of the WWE Hall of Fame.’