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April 30, 2001 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Death of Johnny Valentine, WCW Nitro delayed


If you ask most wrestlers from the 50s through the 70s to do word association, and give the term, "physical toughness," probably the name that would be mentioned most often, would be Johnny Valentine.

Valentine, who likely went more places and held more regional titles at a time when they really meant being the top man in a territory that did real business, than any wrestler of his era, passed away at the age of 72 at about 3 a.m. on 4/24, the same day as Lou Thesz' 85th birthday, in Dallas. He'd been suffering numerous physical problems with his back and his heart which dated back, some of which dated back to the 70s, over the past year, which had gone heavily publicized.

Valentine was known in the 70s as the greatest wrestler never to hold the NWA world heavyweight title. He's largely credited with driving a rebirth of the Mid Atlantic territory in the early 70s which eventually spawned wrestlers like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, who were to take the business to new heights as far as in-ring quality was concerned.

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