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Canadian wrestler Benoit, family found dead

Updated Mon. Jun. 25 2007 8:51 PM ET

Associated Press


STAMFORD, Conn. — Canadian pro wrestler Chris Benoit has been found dead at his suburban Atlanta home along with his wife Nancy and son, World Wrestling Entertainment said Monday.

“There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities,” the WWE said in a statement on its website.

WWE said information about the deaths came from “authorities” in Fayetteville County, Ga. A spokesman for the Peachtree City Police Department said he had no information on the report, telling a reporter to contact his superior on Tuesday.

The WWE planned to air a tribute show to Benoit instead of its regular “Raw” TV show on Monday night. Benoit, 40, was born in Montreal and also lived in Edmonton.

“WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy,” the website statement said.

Benoit was scheduled to wrestle at the Vengeance pay-per-view Sunday night in Houston, but was replaced at the last minute because of what announcer Jim Ross called “personal reasons.”

Benoit, a five-foot-11 220-pounder, was often described as a rabid wolverine in the ring. “The Canadian Crippler” had a chiselled physique and was known for his superior technical skills. The “Crippler Crossface” was one of his signature moves, along with a flying headbutt from the top rope and triple German suplex.

“Chris was beloved among his fellow superstars, and was a favourite among WWE fans for his unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability,” the WWE said on its website. “He always took great pride in his performance, and always showed respect for the business he loved, for his peers and towards his fans. This is a terrible tragedy and an unbearable loss.”

Benoit began his career in 1985 after training with Stu Hart and family in Calgary. He competed for Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion in the late 1980’s and later wrestled in Japan and for the National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. He joined WWE in 2000.

Benoit held several titles over his career but realized his dream at Wrestlemania 20 in 2004, defeating Shawn Michaels and champion Triple H in a triple threat match at Madison Square Garden to win the WWE world heavyweight championship for the first time.

“He was a man of few words, but his passion for the sports-entertainment business was almost unrivaled,” the WWE said. “Whether loved or hated, Benoit was always well-respected by our fans and his peers for his in-ring ability, his trademark toothless grin and his no-nonsense attitude.

“The sports-entertainment world has truly suffered a loss with his passing, as one of the all-time greats was taken well before his time.’