August 23, 2004
Michelle Kane

Overcoming The Odds

July 4th, 1990...it was less than two months away before that years Summerslam, when Ed Leslie (known to all of us as Brutus Beefcake) would face a tragedy that would take him quite some time to overcome.

Leslie, his good friend Brian Blair (formerly part of the tag team The Killer Bees) and a few other friends were having a good time parasailing on Brown Lake, located in Lutz, Florida. The accident occured when a female friend was parasailing. Leslie was 30 yards ahead of her and was to hold the boat back until the air caught the parasail and lifted the woman up into the air. Ed was facing the boat and felt that she had enough elevation to clear him, but she didn't. When he turned around to see what was going on, the accident occured; his friend whacked him in the face with her knees. The result: a shattered jaw, nose and other facial bones, and his palate also collapsed.

Doctors needed to totally reconstruct his face, a highly risky surgical procedure, but to keep him alive, it needed to be done. This operation took eight and a half hours, in which the surgeons cut Leslie from ear to ear and peeled back his skin on his skull. They then used the cranial bone to reconstruct the face by positioning all the other bones around the nose. They had to insert eight steel plates, forty screws, and more than one hundred staples.

In all, the surgery was a success, however it was a long journey to recovery. The WWE was in fact hesitant, upon his return, to even allow him to wrestle without some sort of hard "mask", or protection. It has been said that had it not been for the support of Hulk Hogan, the WWE may have let Leslie go, if anything, out of fear that he may have hurt himself. But Hogan believed that Leslie would make a full recovery, and eventually, he did. In fact, over time, Leslie would wrestle without any protection at all.

Brutus Beefcake: Just surviving all these years and coming back from the accident. The doctors said that I would never be able to participate in any kind of sport again, much less step back into the wrestling ring, make a comeback, compete on a world wide basis, team up with Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania, things like that which the doctors said would never, ever happen. That's definitely my greatest accomplishment. To be able to make a comeback of that magnitude which everyone said would be impossible

Indeed, one of his greatest accomplishments after his devestating accident occured on April 4th, 1993, when he and Hulk Hogan teamed up to face Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster, who were tag team champions at the time. In this battle, he and the Hulkster ultimately lose to the conniving Money Inc, but no matter. Ed Leslie, who we all grew to know and love as Brutus Beefcake, on this day had overcome all odds. He set foot in a ring again, and for a while, he thought he wouldn't. And even if he lost in the ring, he scored a personal victory. That's bigger that a lot of victories made that day. Or any day, for that matter.

Brutus Beefcake: I'm just happy to be here after the accident, to be able to do whatever I want. The doctors said I'd be limited as to what I could do and so far I've proved them 100% wrong. I'm able to do everything I wanna do and I'm looking forward to doing new things and traveling the world.

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