Wrestling with blood sharks

Stephanie Stein
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The one thing wrestler Devon “Hannibal” Nicholson has been dreaming his whole life – gone.


He filed a lawsuit against WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher after contracting Hepatitis C in a 2007 match when Abdullah allegedly used the same concealed razor blade to cut Devon that he used on himself.

Abdullah denies the accusation. When the Orléans Star called to hear his side of the story, he refused to comment.

After a 2009 tryout camp, Nicholson said he was offered a three-year contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, which is the largest professional wrestling company in the world. He felt on top of the world.

It came crashing down the day WWE cancelled his contract two and a half weeks later when the company learned that Nicholson had Hepatitis C, an infectious disease that attacks the liver. “That almost destroyed me.”

Health experts estimate 180 million people have chronic Hepatitis C worldwide. The Hepatitis C virus was not discovered until 1989. A test to detect the virus in the blood had not been developed until 1992.

Mr. Larry Shreve, otherwise known as Abdullah the Butcher, made a fortune as the first hard core wrestler when the 1970’s were famous for the blood bath years. Wrestler Billy Graham described the Butcher in the documentary, Don’t Bleed on Me, as “mentally ill and obsessed with cutting to the point where he can’t  be restrained or refrained from cutting people. “

In a slow motion take in the video Don’t Bleed on Me, it shows a glimpse of Shreve allegedly cutting himself and Nicholson during the match.

With the case still pending, Devon is suing Abdullah for $6.5 million. He said given the money pro wrestlers make yearly, and how his life has been set back as a result of the virus, he feels it’s a fair amount of money.

Abdullah’s blood test is the element of proof the courts are waiting for to reach a verdict. When Nicholson’s lawyer Ronald Casa was called for comments, he declined. As a result of blood tests being held back, Nicholson has been campaigning hard against Abdullah the Butcher’s inclusion into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Nicholson sees Shreve’s inclusion in the Hall is a slap in the face of any wrestler who may have been infected if in fact Shreve has Hepatitis C. “It sends the wrong message.”

For now, Nicholson is trying his best to cope. He is employed at Ottawa's Ray Friel complex as a personal trainer, and he’s wrestling for Great White North. His next match will be September 3 at the Robert Hartley Arena in Hawkesbury.  Check out www.greatnorthwrestling.com for details.

Despite his battle with situational anxiety and depression, he’s trying to stay positive and educate the public about the reality of Hepatitis C in wrestling. A veiled secret since the inception of the sport, he is shining a bright light on the issue and wrestling people like Abdullah for accountability.

Organizations: World Wrestling Entertainment

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • fdhtry
    August 18, 2011 - 22:05

    I just want to tell the people that you are not alone even when you have an STD! There are so many people who have the same situation as you. Also, there are many online communities for you to find support and dating! I recommend you to read the STD inspirational stories on the largest STD support and dating site STDslove. com. Hope that you find the stories helpful and informative.

    • Dave Magintis
      August 19, 2011 - 19:18

      Hep C is not an STD like Hep A or B. It is a blood to blood disease. I'd like to see Abdullah the Butcher punished for passing it to Devon. Shame on WWE for putting him in the HOF despite these allegations.