Dick Slater, the professional wrestler who was also known as “Dirty Dick,” has passed away at the age of 67. His cause of death has not yet been announced. Slater spent the 1960s and 1970s competing in regional wrestling championships before eventually joining the WWE. He moved to Japan in the late 1980s. Wrestling fans will remember Slater for his rivalry with WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts. But others may remember Slater for his controversial costumes and for his brush with the law later in life.
Here’s what you need to know about Dick Slater:
1. Slater Started His Career in Florida & Became a Regional Champion
“Dirty Dick” Slater was born Richard Van Slater in Tampa, Florida in 1942. Slater got his start as a wrestler in 1968. He was trained by trained by Bill Wats, Hiro Matsuda, Bob Roop, and Jack Brisco. The WWE says that Slater was a “prolific competitor” in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling during the 1970s and 1980s. Slater teamed with WWE Hall of Famer Bob Orton; he also had a long-lasting rivalry with WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
It wasn’t until 1986 that Slater joined WWF. He was mainly a tag team act, working with Dick Murdoch, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, The Great Muta, Greg Valentine, and Bunkhouse Buck.
2. Slater Spent Some Time as a Pro Wrestler in Japan
In 1987, Slater moved to Japan, where he joined All Japan Pro Wrestling. Slater spent about two years in the country, working on tag teams, before coming back to the US and going back to the WWF. He was said to be popular in Japan, where a number of American wrestlers found fame. You can watch one of his Japanese matches here.
3. Slater Was Known as ‘The Rebel’ & Used to Carry a Confederate Flag into the Ring
Since Slater was from Florida, wrestling promoters apparently wanted to give him a Southern “gimmick.” Slater was made to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag; he also carried the “stars and bars” with him into the ring.
The gimmick got Slater in trouble when he fought matches in the North — but it may not have been popular even with most Southern audiences. Wrestling fans have described the gimmick as “profoundly ridiculous” — especially when used on a national stage. Fans added that by 1986, this kind of gimmick was generally seen as offensive.
4. In 2004, Slater Was Convicted of Attacking His Girlfriend With a Butcher Knife
Slater was sentenced to a year of house arrest and two years of probation after he was found guilty of attacking his girlfriend, Theresa Halbert, with a butcher knife. Halbert and Slater had just broken up when he attacked her; the former wrestling star had gone to her house to collect some of his things when he suddenly came up from behind and attacked her. Halbert was hospitalized for stab wounds but was not seriously injured.
The former wrestling star said at the time that his mind was addled because he was taking pain killers. Slater had become addicted to morphine and Oxycontin after he broke two vertebrae during a fight in 1996. He told authorities that he was high on both drugs and out of his mind when he went after his girlfriend.
5. Slater Threatened Suicide After Stabbing His Girlfriend
Slater was 52 years old when he stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Theresa Halbert, with a butcher’s knife. Slater, who later said that his mind was addled by Oxycontin and morphine, told Halbert that he wanted to watch her die and then kill himself.
The couple had recently split up, and Slater had come to Halbert’s home to pick up his clothing. She told police that he punched her in the head and knocked her down, and then stabbed her with a knife. Then he said he wanted to watch her bleed to death; he also said he was going to kill himself. Halbert called 911 after he eventually left.
Slater was married twice: to Charlotte Ann Nipper and to Sandra Montieth.