Former professional wrestling champion Jimmy Rave, whose legs were amputated due to an MRSA infection, has died at 39, his agent said on Tuesday.
The New York Post reports Rave, whose real name was James Michael Guffey, started in the ring professionally in 1999, later becoming a two-time National Wresting Alliance (NWA) junior heavyweight champ. He also appeared in matches for Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling and Ring of Honour, as well as WWE-produced “Sunday Night Heat”.
“James had been struggling with drug addiction for many years,” Rave’s agent, Bill Behrens, said in a statement written with help from the wrestler’s daughter, Kailah Guffey. “His struggles resulted in the amputation of his arm and, later, both of his legs.”
MRSA is a bacterium than can infect different parts of the body as is tough to treat because it is resistant to some common antibiotics.
Rave’s cause of death wasn’t immediately clear. The Atlanta native had been living in Philadelphia at the time of his passing, Behrens said. A memorial service will be held in Georgia, with details to be released at a later date.
Rave revealed in October that he started having trouble walking months earlier, prompting him to visit a surgeon.
“He determined I had MRSA in both legs & they needed to be amputated immediately,” Rave tweeted. “Promoters can tell you along with my peers, I’ve had a history w/ this and would cancel shows often due to this condition.”
Rave went on to say pro wrestling was “all I ever loved” while speaking directly to his fans.
“Sorry I fell short of your expectations,” Rave tweeted. “I tried … I really did.”
In November 2020, Rave said his 21-year ring career was “effectively” over when a doctor found an infection in his left arm, which needed to be amputated above the elbow.
“This was the hardest thing I have ever had to type,” Rave tweeted. “Please take your health much more seriously than I did. Support pro wrestling!”
Rave’s death sent shockwaves through the wrestling community, prompting many tributes online.
“The NWA is saddened to hear of the passing of former Jr. Heavyweight Champion Jimmy Rave,” the organisation tweeted. “Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this time.”
Wrestling legend Mick Foley, who previously helped raise money for Rave’s medical costs, shared a photo of his friend from the ring in his prime.
“This really hurts,” Foley tweeted. “He was only 39.”
Rave’s daughter has launched a fundraiser to honour the fallen star and offset his funeral costs. The public appeal had garnered $AUD4160 as of Wednesday.
“The last time I talked to him, he told me how much he loved me and how he was so proud of me for following my dreams to become a teacher,” Guffey wrote. “I’m so thankful that I was able to have that as our last conversation.”
Rave is survived by his ex-wife, daughter Kailah, son James and his parents, Jim and Toni Guffey.
This article first appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission