In the realm of professional wrestling, George “The Animal” Steele stands as a true icon—a larger-than-life figure whose presence left an indelible mark on the hearts of fans worldwide. As his final days approached, the wrestling community came together to celebrate the life and legacy of a man who brought both entertainment and authenticity to the ring.
Born William James Myers on April 16, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan, George Steele’s journey into the world of wrestling was anything but conventional. Educated with a master’s degree in education and working as a high school teacher and coach, Steele’s transition into wrestling was a serendipitous turn of events. His unique persona and untamed character quickly caught the attention of promoters, paving the way for an unforgettable career.
Debuting in the 1960s, George Steele’s transformation into “The Animal” marked a departure from traditional wrestling personas. With his green tongue, wild behavior, and penchant for tearing apart turnbuckles, Steele was a true original. He didn’t fit the mold of the typical wrestler, but that’s precisely what made him a standout.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, George Steele became a beloved fixture in the wrestling world. His battles with some of the era’s greatest names, including “Macho Man” Randy Savage, created moments etched into wrestling history. The fans connected with his primal character and the genuine emotions he evoked, both as a villain and an anti-hero.
As Steele’s wrestling career reached its zenith, the toll of the physically demanding industry began to show. In an era before the extensive medical and safety protocols of today, wrestlers often endured significant wear and tear on their bodies. For Steele, the cumulative effects of years in the ring began to catch up with him.
In his final days, George Steele faced the challenges of aging and declining health. The boisterous persona that had made him famous was now juxtaposed with the reality of a man dealing with serious health issues. Despite the contrast, Steele’s spirit remained resilient. He confronted his health battles with the same tenacity he exhibited in the ring, showing a side of himself that many fans had never seen.
As his health deteriorated, Steele found solace in the support of his loved ones, especially his wife of many years. Her unwavering presence was a testament to the bond they shared, a bond that had seen them through both triumphs and trials. Friends and colleagues from the wrestling world also rallied around him, providing a source of comfort during his final days.
One aspect that defined George Steele’s legacy was his authenticity. He was never afraid to be himself, even if that meant breaking the mold of what a wrestler should be. His character, while exaggerated for entertainment, resonated with people because it was a part of who he truly was. This authenticity extended to his interactions with fans. Steele appreciated their loyalty and support, often taking the time to engage with them in meaningful ways.
In the midst of his health struggles, Steele’s final days were marked by a sense of reflection. He looked back on his storied career, recalling the highs and lows, the cheers and boos. He cherished the memories he had created with his fellow wrestlers, sharing anecdotes that brought smiles and laughter to those who visited him.
Tragedy struck on February 16, 2017, when George “The Animal” Steele passed away at the age of 79. The news reverberated throughout the wrestling community, prompting an outpouring of tributes and remembrances. Fans, fellow wrestlers, and industry insiders all came together to honor a man who had left an undeniable impact on their lives.
Steele’s death marked the end of an era—a reminder that even the larger-than-life figures we admire are mortal. Yet, his legacy lives on. The lessons he imparted through his authenticity, resilience, and ability to connect with people remain timeless. In the years since his passing, wrestling events have continued to pay homage to George Steele’s contributions, ensuring that his memory endures.
As fans remember George “The Animal” Steele’s final days, they celebrate not just his wrestling achievements, but also the genuine, relatable human being who brought joy to countless lives. His story serves as a testament to the power of embracing one’s true self and touching the hearts of others through unapologetic authenticity. The wrestling world may have lost a legend, but the legacy of George Steele continues to roar on.