Mike Graham, back row, left, at a luncheon in Tampa with several of his retired wrestling friends.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Retired professional wrestler and Indian Rocks Beach resident Mike Graham, 61, has died. His body was found in a home in Daytona Beach on Oct. 18. He was visiting Daytona for Biketoberfest.
According to the police report he was found “lying face up on the bed with a gunshot wound to the forehead.” A .22 caliber revolver was found next to the body.
The parallels of suicide in Graham’s life could only be described as eerie. His father committed suicide in 1985 and his son committed suicide at the same Biketoberfest celebration in Daytona Beach in 2010. Daytona Beach Police Sgt. Jimmy Flint issued the police report, which indicated that Graham’s wife, Diane Marie Hamilton, told them that Graham “had threatened to commit suicide frequently ever since his son committed suicide two years earlier.”
Graham’s real name was Edward Michael Gossett. He grew up in South Tampa and went to Robinson High School. His father, Eddie Graham, was a wrestler of note and a wrestling promoter. Michael made his wrestling name in the late 1980s with the Florida Championship Wrestling and was part of a tag team with noted wrestler Dustin Rhodes.
Graham was never part of the larger World Wrestling Entertainment group as his father was. However, on its website WWE issued condolences.
“He was part of our extended family,” the notice read. “The sports-entertainment world lost a beloved member today. WWE extends its sincerest condolences to his family and friends.”
In Indian Rocks Beach Graham was part of a retired wrestling community in the area. IRB resident George Scott is among them. His wife Jean felt the pain of Graham’s death.
“We weren’t what you would call close friends,” she said. “But we knew him and every so often a group of retired wrestlers and their wives went to dinner or lunch. There was Steve Kern, Don Curtis’s wife Dottie, Jack and Gerry Brisco, Buddy Colt and others. The conversation wasn’t always about wrestling but occasionally they would talk about some of the action that is going on now.”
Scott was at a loss to explain why some wrestlers resort to such a violent act. She mentioned wrestler Chris Benoit who killed his wife and son, then himself, in 2007.
“I recall Chris Benoit who killed his family a few years ago,” she said. “That was blamed on steroids. Then there are the concussions, George has had several concussions and there is plenty of pain.”
According to Scott wrestlers spend a lot of time in pain.
“If you don’t wrestle you don’t get paid,” she said. “But when you hurt you can’t wrestle. George has had four concussions, spinal stenosis, and many broken bones. Now that he is 83 all those old pains are coming out.”
But it may have been an emotional pain, not a physical one that caused Graham to take his life according to Scott. “It is so sad the way he died; his son killing himself may have had an impact,” she said. “I feel so very sorry for them, I think it is terrible.”
There will be a memorial service for Mike Graham (Gossett), at the Largo Cultural Center on Friday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m.