Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Autopsy report confirms Graham’s suicide
Posted Nov 19, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM
An autopsy performed on Mike Graham has confirmed that the longtime star of “Championship Wrestling from Florida” in the 1970s and ’80s committed suicide last month using a .22 caliber revolver to shoot himself in the left forehead. Also, a toxicology report confirmed that the former professional wrestler had alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
The findings were contained in documents requested from the Volusia County medical examiner office, and were sent in an email late Monday afternoon by Dave Byron, Volusia County’s director of community services.
The completed autopsy report by the Volusia County medical examiner office is dated Nov. 16, 2012. It confirms earlier reports by the Daytona Beach police department that Graham, 61, who lived in Indian Rocks Beach and whose real name was Edward Michael Gossett, committed suicide on the night of Oct. 18, 2012. The autopsy was performed the following day, and the toxicology report was submitted to the Volusia County medical examiner on Nov. 5.
According to the toxicology report, Graham’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at .259. BAC is defined as the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood per 100 milliliters (ml) of blood. In Florida, 0.08 is the BAC level at which a person is considered impaired.
The autopsy report stated that the fatal shot entered through Graham’s left forehead, and the direction of the bullet was from “front to back and slightly downward.”
Graham was in Daytona Beach last month for the 20th annual Biketoberfest. Police were called to a house on North Halifax Avenue in Daytona Beach at 8:47 p.m. on Oct. 18 “in reference to a suicide.” According to the initial police report, Graham was found “lying face up on the bed with a gunshot wound to the forehead.” He was pronounced dead at 8:54 p.m.
The incident report quoted Graham’s wife, Diane Marie Hamilton, as saying that Graham “had threatened to commit suicide frequently ever since (his) son committed suicide two years prior.”
Graham’s son, Steven Edward Gossett, died on Dec. 15, 2010. He was 37.
Graham hosted a weekly radio show on WHNZ, 1250 AM, called “Talking Wrestling with Mike Graham” on Saturday nights from 6-7 p.m. His roots ran deep in the Tampa area. He grew up in South Tampa and graduated from Robinson High School. He was the son of Eddie Graham, the longtime promoter of National Wrestling Alliance wrestling cards in the state of Florida. The elder Graham also took his life, dying Jan. 21, 1985, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Those are the facts, unfortunate as they are. They don’t address how Graham was a passionate wrestler during his career and did so many angles for “Championship Wrestling from Florida.”
Here are a few notes from the autopsy report that I found interesting.
I knew Graham wasn’t the tallest guy around or even the heaviest on the “CWF” program, but the report listed him as “a 66-inch, 165-pound adult.” I know that Mike wrestled in the 205-to-215 pound range (and possibly lighter) during his heyday in Florida. His chest is described in the autopsy report as “symmetrical,” while “the musculature of the legs is well formed and symmetrical.” So at the time of his death, Graham was at an ideal weight and appeared to be in good shape.
Graham sported several tattoos, the most poignant being a shark and dolphin drawing with inscriptions that read “12-14-10” and “1-12-13” on his left leg. The first inscription is a reference to the night his son shot himself. The second date refers to what would have been his son’s 40th birthday.
Another tattoo on the back of his left leg was of a skull and lightning bolt and the inscription “Peace of Mind.” We may never understand fully the reasons behind Graham’s decision to end his life, but with the autopsy report now official, the book can be closed. And hopefully, Mike is at peace now.