In the end, Whebbe died as he lived--with an inordinate amount of physical suffering. Friends who visited were shocked. In his final days, Whebbe, who had been whittled away by his illness, had ballooned.
"Last time I saw him, I didn't even recognize him," says Ricky Rice, a retired wrestler. "I asked Dukes, my old tag team partner, 'Where is he really? Because that's not him.' He didn't look like anything like his old self."
Courtesy of Richard Darud
The insider: Whebbe, right, gives the soul shake to a judge at a pro boxing card on the White Earth Indian Reservation last February
To a person, Whebbe's friends were surprised by how hard the death hit them. For the old wrestler Eddie Sharkey, it is like the loss of a landmark. "He was always around. Just a guy you take for granted," Sharkey sighs. "Then he's gone."