Tragedy unmasked ‘narcissist’

Best known as Lex Luger, a ring name inspired by Superman’s arch-nemesis, Larry Pfohl fell from the highs of pro wrestling into addiction, prison and paralysis before finding redemption in an unexpected place

 Lex Luger
Lex Luger [Larry Pfohl]

With a career spanning over a decade, the three-time world heavyweight champ was the first to defeat the famed Hulk Hogan on national television and became known to millions of wrestling fans as both "the Narcissist" and "The Total Package".

Yet Lex confesses in his biography Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler that his inflated ego and selfish lifestyle resulted in painful consequences.

"My life was full of money, full of women, full of drugs and alcohol, I had played before packed arenas, I had everything the world had to offer, and then it all came crashing down," Lex explains in connection to the book.

Before his wrestling career Lex utilised his natural athletic abilities for college and professional football, where he was first introduced to drugs and steroids.

"If you snort it, spray it, shoot it, inject it, I did it, buddy. Or I was around it. That was my life. Alcohol? I abused it all, buddy. I took a lot of pills. I was a pill popper," he told ESPN in 2007.

Lex later married and had kids but confessed to CBN that he was living as two different people, enjoying family time as Larry back home and then parading as his alter ego in the ring with a mistress on the side.

His double-life eventually caught up with him when his mistress, a wrestling manager known as Miss Elizabeth, overdosed on a cocktail of drugs and died in his arms.

Police later charged Lex with 13 counts of drug possession after finding over 1,000 illegal pills in the townhouse the couple shared.

"It was all at once exposed, it was a huge story. It had all the secular world loves: betrayal, sex and drugs, arrest and death," Lex told CBN.

"I was getting high every day, all day long. The grief, the loss, the pain and the blame I was placing on others for why this was all happening. The God I never acknowledged my whole life or prayed for anything, now I acknowledged enough to be angry at Him. I was basically cursing God."

After violating his parole Lex served time in prison where he developed a friendship with a visiting pastor, Steve Baskin, who shared with Lex about Jesus Christ.

Thoughts about the sin in his life plagued Lex because he knew that he was not right with God so when he got out of prison he came back to Pastor Steve with a question.

"What about the sinner's prayer;" he asked Steve. "That's where we have a change of mind and turn it all over to Him – because I could tell you that pride was always my problem," Lex recalls.

In response they both got on their knees and Lex wept as he sincerely prayed to God for forgiveness for his sins, asking Jesus Christ to come into his life and change him from the inside out.

"When I started saying the sinner's prayer, I got emotional. All that hate, grief, despair, depression and everything I was going through in my life lifted off me," he says.

"I am stronger and richer than I have ever been because of the decision I made on April 23, 2006, to give my life to Jesus Christ," Lex declared in his biography.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Lex started to make a comeback in the ring but just over a year later his career ended after a nerve impingement in his neck left him temporarily paralysed.

Recovery was a slow, painful process but Lex says it was a great time of spiritual growth which demonstrated to him how reliant we are on God for everything.

"Even though I have lost 50 or 60 pounds of muscle from my spinal cord injury, God is rebuilding me from the inside out, showing me that my true strength, through this injury, comes from the inside out through Him," he boldly told CBN.

"God is always faithful to even someone like me - who ran from Him, hid from Him and cursed Him.

"He loved us all so much that because we are separated from God He brought His own Son in the flesh to die for all our sins so we are not separated from him anymore. He gives us each that opportunity [to accept Him].

"God is there for us and loves us. He wants us to turn it all over to Him."

Healed from his paralysis and his addictions, Lex now volunteers as a wellness counsellor at the Shepherd Center and shares his hope and faith through a non-profit organisation called World Wrestling Outreach.

"I used to be known as one of the strongest guys on the planet," he told The Christian Post recently. "I thought surrendering was a weakness, instead it's the strongest thing a man or a woman can ever do, to acknowledge our Creator who's in control of all things."