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Wrestling Superstar Axl Rotten Dies, Aged 44

The wrestler, real name Brian Knighton, was found dead on Thursday night in his car outside a McDonald's in Baltimore, Maryland, Pro Wrestling Sheet reported.

His mother, Maria Leydig, told the publication an overdose was suspected, adding: "Brian lost his battle with his demon."

The Baltimore-based star's former wrestling network paid tribute to him.

"WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Brian Knighton, best known for competing in ECW as Axl Rotten from 1993 to 1999, has passed away," read a statement.

"WWE extends its condolences to Knighton's family, friends and fans."

Knighton - whose ring name was inspired by the rockers Johnny Rotten and Axl Rose - burst on to the independent wrestling circuit in the late 1980s.

The 6ft 1in, 310lb (140kg) hulk moved in 1991 to World Championship Wrestling before joining rival promoter Extreme Championship Wrestling from 1993-99.

Knighton formed a tag team, The Bad Breed, with his fictional brother Ian Rotten (real name John Williams).

Their subsequent feud became one of the scripted entertainment franchise's most celebrated rivalries.

Axl eventually defeated his sibling in a 1995 bout, the Taipei Death Match, which saw each man prowl the ring with shards of glass taped to his knuckles.

A year later they reconciled and teamed up again.

Knighton spoke in later years of the toll the sport had taken on his body and his struggles with heroin abuse.





© Sky News, 2016