Requiem for an Ex-Heavyweight

Ray Whebbe Jr., hustler, journalist, champion of lost causes, dies at 48

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."

The insider: Whebbe, right, gives the soul shake to a judge at a pro boxing card on the White Earth Indian Reservation last February
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."

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