I'll state right off the top that some of you will hate this article. Some of you will call me crass or inappropriate. Some will say you should never speak ill of the dead.
And to that I say, why not? Clearly the dead spoke ill of so many before.
Warrior (or Jim Hellwig) was a homophobe and a racist. I didn't know the man personally, but I've read up on his public comments since his passing and while others may want to white-wash his controversial views in light of his death (because, again, it's rude to speak ill of the dead) - I'm going to make sure they don't get forgotten.
I should state that I respect everyone's right to free speech. It's part of what I fought for in Afghanistan and while I firmly believe Jim Hellwig had a right to say the things he said in the past, that also means I have the right to say those comments should be added to his overall legacy.
Warrior may have been a complicated man, but most of his public statements on things outside of wrestling were very simple. He hated gay people. He hated middle eastern people. He made fun of women and the disabled.
He may have been an entertaining character for two or three years in the old WWF, but much of what he did in his post wrestling career was built around tearing people down, sowing the seeds of hate and dividing people up into groups with which to be mocked and ridiculed. If that sounds like someone you want to praise - even if the praise is for things which had nothing to do with public statements - that is your call. If you value the childhood memories he provided to you over the hurt he caused others, again, that is also your call.
But it won't be mine.
I liked Ultimate Warrior as a kid, but now that I'm an adult, I recognize that the two-year window when Warrior was hot is how most people will remember him. They probably won't remember the following:
(1) When he was asked to appear on the "Byte This!" TV show he rejected the invitation to appear, writing a letter to the hosts (Todd Grisham and Droz) which read, in part: "Order the queer and the cripple who host the show to read what I have written here..."
(2) While appearing at UCONN, he bashed multiculturalism and tolerance, saying they have resulted in a society where "the bum is as legitimate as the businessman..., that queers are as legitimate as heterosexuals..., that Kwanza is just as legitimate as Santa Claus and Christmas."
(3) Also at UCONN he told a gay student to "take that object out of your mouth when speaking to me"
(4) He also mocked a woman upset at his homophobic remarks and told her "Don't have an orgasm honey."
(5) When an Iranian student asked a question, Warrior told the student to "get a towel."
(6) Also at the UCONN appearance he played a video of himself ripping an Iraqi flag to pieces.
Now, some, if not all of this, is well known to hardcore fans. But there are many who probably only know Warrior from his highlight clips and matches available on the WWE network. And while I'm not saying that every wrestler's political views need to be known and judged before we can honor the in-ring legacy of that wrestler, it's rather difficult for me to separate the two.
Someone's words and actions become part of who they are, and cannot be separated, even in death. So while I feel horrible for Warrior's wife and daughters, I shed no tears for the man himself. As a professional wrestler he was limited in ability, but as a human being, a lot of evidence points to him being even more limited.
And if that offends you, well, now you know how many others felt about Warrior himself.