New Ric Flair Documentary Spotlights Decades of Hard Drinking

By Britni de la Cretaz 11/10/17

A new 30 for 30 documentary examines the often tumultuous life of the flamboyant wrestling icon. 

Ric Flair
Photo via YouTube

For decades, Ric Flair was “Nature Boy”—a larger-than-life, Rolex and diamond-wearing, ladies-man persona he embodied in the wrestling ring. And, according to a new ESPN "30 for 30" documentary, he was living like "Nature Boy" outside of the ring, too.

The doc, which premiered this week, explores Flair’s life both in and out of the ring and raises questions about whether Ric Flair and Richard Fliehr (his real name) are actually different people. Where does the performance end and, if it doesn’t, what effect does that have on a person? For Flair, the effects included compulsive sex and alcohol addiction.

Throughout the film, we’re made to doubt whether we can trust what Flair says about himself. His first wife, Leslie Jacobs, advises viewers not to trust him. Triple H—wrestler, WWE executive, and close friend of Flair—calls him a “consummate liar.” And it is through that lens that we’re introduced to the struggles produced by living as a larger-than-life personality 24/7.

Flair says he drank alcohol every day for a decade, masturbated twice per day, and has slept with “maybe 10,000” women.

“I’ll drink at least 10 beers, and probably five mixed drinks (every day),” Flair told a psychologist in the 1980s. When asked on film whether he’s ever had fun without drinking, Flair says, “I don’t know. I’ve never tried it. Why would I?”

“There was hardly a day that he went without having at least several drinks. You can be an alcoholic and be fully functional,” former wrestler Baby Doll says in the film. “I never saw him show up at the show inebriated, but Flair could drink. How he still has a liver, I don’t know.”

After the documentary wrapped, Flair was hospitalized and put in a medically-induced coma, on life support for 10 days. Doctors gave him a 20% chance to live. His years of hard drinking had caught up to him—he was in the early stages of kidney failure, close to congestive heart failure, needed a pacemaker and had a section of his bowel removed, the Associated Press reports.

Triple H tried to get him to seek help for his drinking problem. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Flair said he doesn’t drink anymore. "I wouldn't even begin to think about drinking," Flair told the AP. "If you ever hear that I'm out drinking again, say, 'Ric, you (dummy), you deserve whatever you get.'"

The documentary also covers the painful loss of Flair’s youngest son, Reid Flair. Reid died in 2013 when he was 25 years old from an overdose of heroin and prescription drugs. Flair found his body in a hotel suite. When asked what he would say to his son today, Flair says, “I regret the fact that sometimes I was your best friend instead of your dad.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.