Dallas Morning News – February 12, 1984
By Debra Martine
David von Erich, the 25-year-old wrestling star from a locally prominent wrestling family, died Friday of acute enteritis, an inflamation of the intestine, medical officials in Tokyo said Saturday.
The disease, which generally attacks the large intestine and usually is not fatal, can be contracted in several ways – from having a virus to eating contaminated food, officials with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said Saturday.
The disease can become fatal if it causes the intestine to inflame and lose its protective lining that allows water to enter the body, officials said.
Without the intestinal lining, the body cannot store water and begins to dehydrate. Complications such as irregular heart beat and heart failure may result, medical officials said.
Von Erich, whose real name was David Adkisson, died in his hotel room in Tokyo. He was found by a wrestling referee after he failed to show up in the hotel lobby to leave for another match.
Officials said Saturday that Von Erich’s body would remain in a Tokyo hospital until Monday because the American consulate is closed until then and because Saturday is Founder’s Day, a Japanese national holiday.
Billed as “The Iron Nail,” von Erich comes from a well-known family of wrestlers. His father, Jack Adkisson, who adopted the stage name Fritz von Erich, has coached all of his sons in the sport – Kevin, 26, Kerry, 23, Michael, 19, and Chris, 13.
Fritz von Erich said Saturday that his son had been sick with flu-like symptoms for several weeks.
“Nobody knew what it was,” he said. “He had a flu-type condition for about six weeks. But in our business, if you can walk, you go out there. You’re expected to go out there. People have paid to see you. At least in our family it’s that way.
“David was in no condition (to wrestle). I feel very guilty about it. But that’s the way it is. I’m concerned about it. I’m very upset about it.”
Von Erich said the family has planned a ceremony 10:35 a.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church in Denton.
“We had at first planned a private ceremony, but I don’t have a right to close these fans out,” von Erich said. “They made us. They have a right to know and to be there.”
Burial will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Grove Hill Memorial Park in East Dallas.
Von Erich said David will be buried next to his oldest brother, Jack Jr., who died in an accident when he was six.