Doug Furnas in the early days of his wrestling career. Photo via images.wikia.com.
In an update to my report on Sunday about the death of former All Japan / WWE / WCW / ECW star Doug Furnas, more details have emerged thanks to Dave Meltzer talking to his coroner and Greg Oliver to his widow. Like so many muscular powerhouses before him, who all used steroids during their careers, such as Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith, Hercules Hernandez, Eddie Guerrero, Randy Savage and many others, he died of a heart attack caused by atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, though in this case recent drug usage was not thought to be a factor.
Sadly, we will never know for certain whether Furnas was also suffering from enlarged organs and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, on top of atherosclerosis and Parkinson's disease, because his organs were too badly decomposed by the time of his autopsy for such an analysis to be done. Furnas had donated his brain to be studied by Chris Nowinski's Sports Legacy Institute for possible concussion related brain injuries, but it didn't work out due to a delay in finding his body, so long they couldn't even estimate a time of death. His widow, Martha Furnas, is asking for donations in honour of his premature passing to be made to Nowinski's research group. She had this to say to Oliver's SLAM Wrestling:
Fortunately, he died very, very peacefully. He was a warrior and a champion. His cause of death ended up being his heart. I got the coroner's notice just this morning.
I wanted the contribution [to the Sports Legacy Institute]. We were going to donate his brain, but it didn't work out.
Another tragic, premature end to a great wrestler, sadly he's likely to be far from the last.