British wrestling legend Ian ‘Doc’ Dean – one half of The Liverpool Lads tag team with WWE coach Robbie Brookside – has died at 48.
The high flyer, from Garston, Liverpool, is suspected to have suffered a heart attack at his home in Orlando, Florida, USA on Monday. Emotional tributes have been paid to the globetrotting star, who helped pave the way for the current generation of UK grapplers.
Dean was best known on these shores for his run in Birkenhead-based All Star Wrestling (ASW) throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The dad-of-three teamed with current WWE trainer Brookside as The Liverpool Lads and twice clinched the ASW British tag team titles.
Eventually, a storyline saw Dean turn on Brookside, real name Robert Brooks, 52, from Kirkdale, to kick off a heated and acclaimed rivalry. They also famously recorded a Video Diary for BBC2, featuring clips of their matches, backstage footage and insight about life on the road.
Brookside posted on Twitter: “RIP Ian Doc Dean. I met you in 1984, you were dressed in a Doctors coat, a pair of rubber boots and a helmet.
“From then on we drove down every road and sailed the 7 seas. The great times will always be with me forever. I shall miss you my dear friend. Forever with me.x”
Dean had one of his children, Adam, with another British grappling great from ITV’s World of Sport era, Klondyke Kate, aka Jayne Porter.
She tweeted: “It’s with unbelievable sadness that my son Adam’s Dad Ian “Doc” Dean passed away last night in his home in Florida, he was 48 years old. He will be coming home to us and back to his home of Liverpool. Love you with all of my heart.”
She has now launched a Go Fund Me appeal in order to have his body flown home from the United States so he can be buried in his beloved Liverpool.
Among those paying tribute to Dean was veteran wrestler Saraya Knight, the mum of WWE star and SmackDown general manager Paige.
Dean and Brookside also teamed with another Scouser, Frankie Sloan, as The Liverpool Lads, touring across Europe, Africa and Asia.
The two-time ASW British Welterweight Champion moved to America in the 1990s and performed for World Championship Wrestling.
He made his WCW debut in early 1997, often appearing on episodes of WCW Saturday Night, but found his greatest success in Japan.
Dean took part in the 1997 Best of the Super Junior IV tournament in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, defeating the iconic Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger.
He also gained a victory over future WWE star Chavo Guerrero Jr. in the heralded tournament, before returning to regularly work for WCW.
Dean wrestled his last televised match on July 7, 1998, losing to Rick Fuller on WCW Saturday Night, before retiring from the ring full time.
He set up his own plumbing business in Florida but, despite wrestling occasional matches, was forced to hang up his boots due to injuries.