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Kevin Von Erich


Acrylic and spray on 24″ x 24″ wood

If you can’t tell by his last name, Kevin Von Erich is a member of the legendary Von Erich wrestling dynasty. Born Kevin Adkisson in 1957 Texas, as a young man he actively pursued football before an injury sidelined him. He began wrestling for his father Fritz Von Erich‘s World Class Championship Wrestling promotion in 1976, under the name Kevin Von Erich. He soon became known for wrestling bare-footed, due to a one-time practical joke by another wrestler who hid Kevin’s boots. The crowd reacted so well to it that he incorporated it into his persona. He rose to early prominence in the tag division, working primarily with his brothers David and Kerry. Kevin also made himself known as a serious singles competitor after a hard-fought victory over Bruiser Brody in 1978, paving the way for Kevin to be one of WCCW’s top stars.

In 1982 one of the greatest rivalries in the entire history of professional wrestling started when the Fabulous Freebirds, a team consisting of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts cost Kevin Von Erich the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in his Christmas match against Ric Flair. This instantly made the Freebirds the most hated team in WCCW and they went on to have hard-fought, bloody and brutal matches against the Von Erich brothers. My hairs are standing on end just typing about how good this feud was, guys. The heat from these matches was enough to get WCCW syndicated across the United States, bringing in millions of viewers. Hell, there were even pirate broadcasts of it airing all the way in the Middle East at the time, so many people wanted to see these matches that were reinventing what wrestling could and should be. This isn’t hype, they were just that good. The Von Erich boys were also way over with the ladies, a big part of the rivalry’s success. Pretty ladies wanted to see these young men, and other guys wanted to be where those pretty ladies were!

Kevin also had a long-time singles feud with “Gentleman” Chris Adams, with some notably violent matches that saw each man make some hospital trips. In 1986, Kevin won the now-World Class Wrestling Association’s World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Black Bart for the title. The majority of Kevin’s titles were in the tag division with his brothers.

Now retired from the wrestling life, he runs a family investment business with his wife in Hawaii. His sons Ross and Marshall have ventured into the wrestling world, largely competing in Japan, carrying on both their grandfather’s Von Erich name and their father’s bare-footed appearance.

About the piece: I’d had another plan in mind for this piece, something more minimal and high-concept, but a voice in the back of my head told me to go in a totally different direction while also staying in a vein with what I did in the Fritz piece. I brought in some of that piece’s color palette, but added new things, just as Kevin did. I used a mix of brush, sponge brush, palette knife and a few squirts of spray paint.

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